Ray Ratto

Ratto: Questions in aftermath of Rowell departure

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Ratto: Questions in aftermath of Rowell departure

June 21, 2011
RATTO ARCHIVE
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CSNBayArea.com

In a move that was long expected -- just not quite this soon -- the Warriors and team president Robert Rowell agreed that they would not share the same letterhead any longer, and announced same Tuesday.Rowell, one of the lightning rods for the storms of criticism surrounding the ill-formed and ill-fated Chris Cohan administration, was essentially fired with a softened press release -- and lots of flowery phrases about his many years of service and what-not -- that essentially said all that needed to be said in one line of the release:We believe that previous ownership really put him in a publicly challenging position over the past few years and I have a great deal of respect for how he has conducted himself as a professional.
That was short for You took some of Cohans heat, but you had some of it coming, too.RELATED: NBA Draft headquarters
As new owner Joe Lacob had added what seems to be two general managers (Jerry West and Bob Myers) to the one he already had (Larry Riley), there was little for Rowell to do outside the selling of tickets and control of the marketing efforts, and with a lockout looming that many believe could drastically curtail or even cancel the season, Rowell became expendable.In short, he got furloughed, with considerable prejudice. Hed been made a lame duck by Lacob, and now Lacob has decided he is too pricey a luxury as the lockout looks more and more certain.Rowell gets deserved credit for keeping the seats filled at near capacity during the long and arduous Cohan years, but his over-reaching into the basketball side helped muddy what chain of command there was in the organization, and dragged him into the wormhole of criticism Cohan endured throughout most of his tenure atop the organizational table.STEINMETZ: NBA Mock Draft version 2
It also reduces by one noteworthy figure the links between current and previous management. Lacob is, as he continues to point out ion so many ways, a hands-on owner, and hands-on owners want their own hands where they can see them. The hands of previous owners dont last long, and Rowell got nine post-transition months.No successor has been named, but one suspects that either Lacob or one of the other owners will take over the business side of the operation. That announcement is expected under separate cover in the next few days or weeks; no timetable was indicated.In sum, Bobby Rowell is gone, and skeptical fans who enjoyed using him as a goat well worth scaping will now have to find other targets, or decide that this was a positive move in and of itself. How they approach that task remains to be seen, but as for Rowell, he served an unpopular king well, and paid the price in blowback from an angry populace for it.Ray Ratto is a sports columnist for CSNBayArea.com.

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

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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.

 

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

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AP

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.