Ray Ratto

Ratto: Five reasons we can't have nice things ...


Ratto: Five reasons we can't have nice things ...

Its Finals Week, unless youve already finished, so you have time to consider five more reasons why we cant have nice things:

1. LeBron James is now discovering the true meaning of hate. His team ... OK, Dwyane Wades team, of which he is a member, if you read the internets ... wins to take a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals. But Wade is getting loved, Chris Bosh, the Larry in this interpretations of the Three Stooges, is getting a lot of like, and James is now being branded as the The SuperDuperStar Who Isnt Doing Enough To Befit His SuperDuperStar status. In other words, The Decision is worse than a bad season. It makes a good season disappear.

PBT: Dirk needs help if Mavs are to beat Heat

2. The Giants are one injury away from getting back to even for last season, when they were disgustingly healthy all year long. In short, if youre at the ballyard tonight for the series opener against Washington, that garlic you smell wont be for the fries. It will because the players are wearing it around their necks to ward off vampires.

PREVIEW: Lincecum seeks rare win over Nats in series opener

3. Speaking of which, Brian Sabean has apologized to Scott Cousins, which means we can now let the story die until August 11, when the Giants play in Florida and we can gather as a people to judge whether the apology was heartfelt enough. We dont let stories die. We just give them naps.

4. The As arent bringing up that sweep of the Orioles any more. They are now closer to Minnesota, the team with the games worst record, than they are to Texas, the AL West leader, or Boston, the wild card team. It seems they have this hit-no-pitch, pitch-no-hit thing pretty much down. But maybe a few more days with Doctor Feelgood (the Orioles) can get them back up and, well, sauntering.

PREVIEW: A's try to halt losing streak in Baltimore

5. Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final is tonight on Versus, and well explain it this way for you non-hockeyistas out there. Boston wins, or the series is very short and the Vancouver cops have a lot of Cleanup On Aisle Robson Street. But it is Canada, where the cops provide stats after big sporting events on arrests, citations and even pour-outs. Honest to God. Ask Andrea Woo of the Vancouver Sun who Tweeted the numbers from Game 2.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

Dusty Baker's postseason agonies and his Hall of Fame candidacy


Dusty Baker's postseason agonies and his Hall of Fame candidacy

Dusty Baker’s face tells a lot of different stories, but there is only one it tells in October.

Disappointment. Deflating, soul-crushing, hopeless disappointment.

With Thursday night’s National League Division Series defeat to the Chicago Cubs, the Washington Nationals have reinforced their place in the panoply of the capital’s legacy of failure.

But Baker’s agonies extend far further. His 3,500 games rank him 15th all-time, and only one manager above him, Gene Mauch, is not in the Hall of Fame. His 105 postseason games ranks seventh all-time, and his nine postseason appearances ranks sixth.

But his postseason record of 44-61 and no World Series titles curse him. He has been on the mailed backhand of eight series losses in 11 tries (plus a play-in game loss in 2013), and been marked by the media-ocracy as an old-school players’ manager who doesn’t wrap himself in the comforting embrace of statistical analysis.

He is now Marv Levy and Don Nelson – the good manager who can’t win the big one.

Only Levy and Nelson are in their respective halls of fame, and Baker probably won’t be. Having no World Series titles (his bullpen dying in 2002 being as close as he ever got) dooms him as it has doomed Mauch, although Mauch made his reputation as a brilliant tactician with bad teams.

But even if you take Baker’s worst metric – the postseason record – he still ranks in the 90th percentile of the 699 managers in the game’s history, though even then there’s the caveat of the 200 some-odd interim managers who you may choose not to count.

This is not to claim he should be in the Hall of Fame. This is to claim he should be discussed, if only to determine if reputations in the postseason are the only way managers are allowed to be evaluated. Because if that’s the case, Dusty Baker’s world-weary October face makes that conversation a very short one.


U.S. Soccer: Patriotism-fueled frontrunning born of inexcusable arrogance


U.S. Soccer: Patriotism-fueled frontrunning born of inexcusable arrogance

So Bruce Arena resigned as the U.S. National soccer team coach Friday. Big damned deal.

Oh, it is to him. He probably liked the job, and might have wanted to keep getting paid.

But whether he’s there or isn’t doesn’t matter. In fact, whether the people who hired him are there or not doesn’t matter either. U.S. Soccer is the definition of sporadic interest and patriotism-fueled frontrunning, of imbedded self-interest and general indolence, all born of inexcusable arrogance.

Bruce Arena didn’t bring that to the job, nor does he remove it by leaving. He’s just another head on a spike, like Jurgen Klinsmann was before him, and Bob Bradley before him.

But that would also be true if the head of U.S. Soccer, Sunil Gulati, quit or was fired too. Even the people bleating that the U.S. shamed itself by losing to Trinidad and Tobago display the same kind of blinkered ignorance and arrogance that dogs this sport in America.

Being in CONCACAF is a gift from the heavens, and the U.S. has decided as a national collective to replace that with actual achievement. Beating Germany in friendly is proof of long-term worth. The fact is, we don’t know how to evaluate America’s place in the soccer world except as an audience, let alone how much massive structural change is required to change that.

And change must be massive, and can’t be evaluated by the next cheap win or the next galling loss, or television ratings. America is good at watching soccer, good enough to catch on the actual chasm between its national team and development structure.

But that’s where it ends, because knowing what’s bad because you just watched it, or what is actually good (like, say, a UEFA or CONMEBOL qualifier) is light years from knowing how to fix a system built on the flawed concepts of work rate without creativity and money as a solution to crippling organizational problems.

So Bruce Arena does the decent thing given the circumstances, falling on a sword that should actually be a kebab skewer. But it makes no difference. The American soccer structure needs to get what it needs before it can get what it wants, and there are no more shortcuts to take in a short-attention-span world.