Ray Ratto

Ratto: Posey Will Grin and Bear Awards Spotlight


Ratto: Posey Will Grin and Bear Awards Spotlight


It's almost better for your vision of the 2010 San Francisco Giants that Buster Posey didn't get the National League Rookie of the Year award.

It wouldn't have done much for him, we grant you, but for you, it fits neatly into the profile you want for this team. No awards in sight, but one big honkin' piece of finger candy for everyone involved.

But he got it, beating Jason Heyward of Atlanta with 127 points and 20 of the 32 first-place votes; Heyward had nine others, Gaby Sanchez of Florida had two, and Jaime Garcia of St. Louis, one. Remarkably, one ballot didn't have Posey on it at all, and one ballot didn't have Heyward ( if it was the same ballot, someone needs a beating).

Balloting quirks aside, now Posey will stake his claim to a corner of the 2011 media guide cover -- unless general manager Brian Sabean has something to say about it, and we bet he does.

Sabean, you see, adamantly doesn't want Posey as the next FOTF (Face of The Franchise), and it's hard to hide Baseball Writers Association of America trophy winners when it comes time to printing season ticket brochures. Not impossible, mind you -- there is the big trophy with the 30 flagpoles behind which everything else can be hidden -- but difficult.

It also suits Posey's purposes to duck behind the shrubbery, because he (a) doesn't like a lot of media attention, viewing it as an eat-your-vegetables-level chore, and (b) he saw what attention did for Tim Lincecum and Pablo Sandoval. It complicated things, and Posey resists complications the way a brand new car resists dings.

Thus, Posey's victory, which raises an immediate argument with the significantly less prestigious Sporting News Awards, which are voted on by general managers, works slightly in favor of his agent and slightly against what the Giants want to be forever known as -- the team that won it all because it was a seamless whole with no single driving force.

On the other hand, winning it now only slightly accelerates the stardom process that was going to happen anyway. Posey stood out through October as the game's next potentially great catcher (what, no Taylor Teagarden?), and a trophy four months into his service time wasn't going to destroy the illusion of Gerald Dempsey Posey, Stealth Star.

But it won't help. Then again, maybe the Giants' media relations wizards can just put the two trophies and a ring on the cover without mentioning any names. You know, the quiet, understated dignity ploy. And since nobody knows what the Rookie of the Year trophy actually looks like, they can always say it was Mike Murphy's trophy for Equipment Manager of the Half-Century. I mean, who's to know otherwise?
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.