Ray Ratto

Ratto: Newsflash -- State won't pay for stadiums


Ratto: Newsflash -- State won't pay for stadiums

March 7, 2011
Ray Ratto

Not that anyone in the why-dont-you-pay-for-my-stadium game was pinning any hopes on Governor Jerry Brown, but when he gave the 49ers and Raiders the old Let em eat Cal and Stanford backhand, that told us everything to know not just about Browns position, but about the states position on stadium construction.

Specifically, Let em eat Cal and Stanford.

Through the courtesy of the comedy stylings of Phil Matier and Andy Ross in todays Chronicle, Brown upchucked all over the notion of government or taxpayer help for a Raiders49ers stadium, let alone an As park.

Oakland and Alameda County are spending 25 million a year, over a 20-year period, to repay a bond on a stadium that the owners now say may not be usable. That troubles me, Phil the Pill and Dandy Andy quoted Brown as saying. My general view is we have to put education first and entertainment second.

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Boy, you hate to hear that kind of social thought. How can anyone legitimately decide between a nuclear powered weight room with platinum elliptical machines and a functioning school?

But when he said the redevelopment money earmarked for the 49ers stadium is likely to disappear as part of Californias fiscal disaster, he said, Use the ones over at Berkeley and Stanford. They are good stadiums," Brown said.

Then he said something stupid about AT&T Park.

Private enterprise should be able to survive on its own, as witnessed at Pac Bell (AT&T) Park, he said, ignoring that the ballpark has changed names about six or seven times, and in either event has cost the City and County of San Francisco in the neighborhood of 150 million in infrastructure and security costs in its 11-plus years.

But the point is made nonetheless. Brown is not the go-to guy on this stadium stuff, and may offer significant political roadblocks to any end runs. That makes it harder for Jed York, or when the As drop the public component on their stadium plan in San Jose, to turn dirt into diamonds.

In other words, just one more brick in the wall that keeps the status so very quo in these parts. And why York and John Fisher have to make a hard determination on how much of their personal fortunes they want to throw into what is for each of them a grandiose hobby.

In the meantime, San Jose State is angry with the governor because they wanted Spartan Stadium included in his theyre good stadiums master plan. Nobodys ever happy.

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.