Ray Ratto

Ratto: Lacob hires Jackson, expects Doc Rivers

212011.jpg

Ratto: Lacob hires Jackson, expects Doc Rivers

June 6, 2011RATTO ARCHIVEWARRIORS PAGE WARRIORSVIDEO
Ray RattoCSNBayArea.com

Mark Jackson just went from watching the NBA Finals to a team that has trouble making the NBA Octofinals. And he couldnt be happier.But give it time. Hell figure out what hes in for which is plenty.Understand this, though. More than anything else, the Warriors hired Mark Jackson not to be Mark Jackson, but Doc Rivers.

Rivers didnt have any coaching experience when he hooked up with Orlando in 1999. None. Zero games. The exact same number Jackson has now. But Rivers had players, he could communicate, he hired smart veteran assistants who could guide him through the tight squeezes and logistical tricks.STEINMETZ: Mark Jackson: Not Mr. Right, Mr. Right Now
Joe Lacob, though, became a minority partner with the Celtics in 2006, and he came across a more finished product in Rivers. In 2008, he won the NBA title. Even now, with an old team, he got to the Eastern Conference semis, and in 12 years has become one of the games top six coaches.Twelve years, though, cant be fabricated, and Jackson goes into a situation that is looking more and more like an expansion team. Expansion, that is, in all ways but the roster itself, and that may change soon enough.The ongoing debates about whether the Warriors could keep Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry or both will be ongoing, only there will be one more voice in the room. Jackson hasnt seen the Warriors in person in years, wed wager, but hell have an opinion, just like Jerry West will have one, just like Larry Riley will have one, just like Bob Myers will have one.And just like Joe Lacob will have five or six. And thats the important part.Jacksons hiring (3 years, 6 million and change) allows us to understand this hire for what it is Joe Lacobs, pure and simple. We knew all along he would be the one who ran this franchise on the basketball side, because thats all hes ever said. And the Jackson hire proves it.Larry Riley didnt make this hire. He is a lame duck by any definition. Bob Myers didnt make this hire. He isnt the general manager. And Jerry West didnt make this hire, because Mark Jackson doesnt have enough skins on his coaching wall for Wests comfort. He doesnt have any for anybodys comfort, to be honest.Except Lacobs. And Lacob is going to try and remake this franchise in his image, as defined by what he knows and believes to his soul.The Boston Celtics of the latter half of the Oughts.VIDEO: Warriors hire Mark Jackson
It surely isnt Jerry Wests idea, to be sure. And this is the sort of thing that could shorten Wests stay in Oakland. I mean, hes a guy who came in to provide guidance and counsel, and what requires more guidance and counsel for a first-time owner than his first coach?There is no way to know if Mark Jackson is a good idea or not, and anyone who says they do know is lying through his or her uvula. By all accounts, he can communicate well (hell, hes on TV, and players know whos on TV), and he was regarded as a smart player in his years with the Knickerbockers, Clippers, Pacers, Nuggets, Raptors, Jazz and Rockets.But very few coaches are lousy communicators or dopes. Lots of coaches dont have good enough players, or they have a bad atmosphere, or an owner who thinks he knows way more than an owner can know.And that, more than Mark Jacksons coaching skills, is the big issue here. Whether Joe Lacob really is the guy to run this team. I mean, he runs the franchise and all, but the team is not the same, and he will find that out soon enough.Especially now that he is running both the franchise and the team that desperately needs to reach the Octofinals.

MLS respects timing more than dominance, so Quakes have a counterpuncher's chance

quakes-ratto.jpg
USATSI

MLS respects timing more than dominance, so Quakes have a counterpuncher's chance

The San Jose Earthquakes cheated the reaper Sunday, which is news in and of itself. I mean, they’re a playoff team so rarely that getting to a 35th game is quite the achievement, and they should not begin the arduous process of sobering up until Tuesday morning.

I mean, their playoff game with Vancouver is Wednesday night, so slapping themselves back into form is probably a priority.

They got an improbable stoppage time goal from Marco Urena Sunday against Minnesota to sneak through the back door into the final Western Conference playoff spot Sunday, their first appearance in the postseason in five years. It was as electrifying a moment as Avaya Stadium has seen since it opened, and one of the best goals in franchise history if only for its importance.

That said, the Quakes also enter the postseason with a losing record (13-14-7) and the worst goal difference (minus-21) for any playoff team in league history. They are the most cinder-based of the league’s Cinderella stories, and are dismissed with prejudice by most observers as being as one-and-done as one-and-done can be without being none-and-done.

This is a league, though, that has respected timing more than dominance. In 2016, the Montreal Impact finished last in the East and got to the conference final; in 2012, Houston (which was a relocated Quakes team) just snuck in to the postseason and reached the final; in 2005 and 2009, the worst (Los Angeles and Real Salt Lake) ended up first.

In other words, the Quakes’ pedigree, modest though it is, still allows it a counterpuncher’s chance. Its attack, which is third-worst in the league, playoffs or no, is matched by its defense, which is fourth-worst in the league. Their years as a de facto vehicle for Chris Wondolowski are coming to a close, sooner rather than later. They are in no way an elegant team. They are working on their second coach of the year (Chris Leitch).

But therein lies their mutating charm. Their postseason pedigree stinks, but there is a no compelling reason why they cannot cheat a result or two. After all, the lower scoring a sport is, the greater chance for an upset, and the Quakes’ history screams that no franchise could use one more.

So they head for Vancouver, a raucous crowd and a difficult side, carrying with them only their humble resume and the indomitable cheek demanded of the upstart. I mean, anybody in their right mind would much prefer the Whitecaps’ chances, but you gotta be who you gotta be.

Plus, the Quakes are getting a 35th game, which is more than they had a right to expect, all things considered.

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

baker-dusty-head-down.jpg
USATI

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.