Ray Ratto

Ratto: Kolb to NFC West? What it would mean...


Ratto: Kolb to NFC West? What it would mean...

July 25, 2011


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Because gun-jumping is what we do because Comrade Maiocco hasnt really covered this more than four or five times, let us consider for a moment the apparent acquisition of quarterback Kevin Kolb by the Arizona Cardinals in the following ways:

1. How it affects the Cardinals.
2. How it affects the Seahawks, who also rumored to desire him.
3. How it affects the 49ers.

One, for the Cardinals, it cannot possibly hurt, given what they had (which is the discredited Derek Anderson and the mostly ethereal Max Hall) and what they needed (someone to throw the ball with some measure of accuracy to Larry Fitzgerald). Kolb may be one of those free agency myths, the kind of guy whose backup credentials are so spectacular that the real goods as a starter may not stand scrutiny.

But even if one-quarter dead and half-starved, Kolb is an upgrade for one of the teams who are like the 49ers mediocre to not very good. We base this analysis on the only thing we have, which is last year, and if you honestly believe the 49ers werent mediocre to not very good, you are certainly welcome to cheer unreservedly for the next team that hires Mike Singletary as its head coach.

Two, for the Seahawks, it means another year of Matt Hasselbeck, and while they did make the playoffs last year and even stole a first-round playoff game, they did want to upgrade the position, and not being able to at least suggests that they will be standing still. They are, after all, the tin standard for NFC West play, so all things must be compared to them, even if it makes your stomachs churn a bit.

And three, for the 49ers, it means more proof that Jim Harbaugh didnt like the market for quarterbacks so much that he would stand with Alex Smith. This will outrage many of you who long ago decided she should have been term-limited, but Harbaugh has clearly made his choice for his version of Mister Right more specifically, Mister Right Now. He is not a Kevin Kolb guy; if he was, Kolb would still be in play.

NEWS: 49ers' deal with Alex Smith 'pretty well set in stone'

That is, unless the Eagles didnt covet anything the 49ers were offering, though there seems no indication that they ever got very involved in discussions.

In short, the Cardinals did improve themselves, or to be more syntactically accurate, will improve themselves when the deal is finally done. That means one more obstacle for the 49ers to overcome as they emerge from stasis. But if this helps comfort you 49er fans at all, consider this:

There was never a Camp Kevin. Thats one thing the Cardinals will not benefit from this coming season.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

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.