Ray Ratto

Ratto: Setoguchi helps Sharks cheat the reaper


Ratto: Setoguchi helps Sharks cheat the reaper


Ray RattoCSNBayArea.com

DETROIT -- Devin Setoguchi and Logan Couture spent a bit of the locker room time before the overtime period of San Joses 4-3 Game 3 win over Detroit bartering potential game-winning celebrations with each other.

Setoguchi won.

Well, if you really want to know, I looked over at Logan Couture and I said, 'You better get (the game-winning goal) before I do, because I've already got my celebration ready to go. Setoguchi said after beating Jimmy Howard for the third time, 9:21 into overtime.

And he said, 'So do I.' And I said, 'Well, I'm going to go pull the (Cristiano) Ronaldo double-knee.' And he said, 'That was mine.' So I said, 'Well, I'll try to beat you to it then.' So it was kind of weird that it happened that way.

But thats planning for you.

Right before we went on the ice, about four minutes before the overtime started. He said I stole his celebration.

Coutures lawyers will be in touch. So will a lot of other Sharks and their supporters who will acknowledge that Setoguchi poached his team through a game in which they werent really the better team the majority of the time.

Nobody remembers the celebration though, not even Ronaldo himself, if that helps. Setoguchi was kissed by God on this night, to the point where he could simply come on the ice and head for a soft spot on the Red Wings defensive coverage and have the puck magically appear on his tape.

RELATED: Sharks face off with history in Game 4

Which is exactly how he scored the game-winner and put the Sharks within a game of sweeping the Red Wings and within three games of scaring themselves half to death. He found an open place, Joe Thornton, who had done the heavy work carrying and chipping and retrieving the puck through all three zones, found him, and he beat the Detroit goalie low and clean.

I saw Jumbo curl up the wall. Usually when he does that, he always looks to the middle for the quick pop play and for the shot, and I got it. (Wing center Henrik) Zetterberg was in the slot, just kind of right there, so I just tried to get it through his legs or by him quickly, and snuck one right past him (Howard).

I dont know why it happens that way sometimes, he said. Sometimes you work and work and things just sort of happen for you.

Also to you, for Setoguchi also committed two harrowing holding penalties, one which led to Pavel Datsyuks go-ahead goal in the third period, and the other, in overtime, which almost buried the Sharks.

Yeah, Ill talk to him about that, said a clearly torn head coach Todd McLellan.

But he will remember to thank Setoguchi as well for helping the Sharks cheat the reaper on a night that was more Detroits than San Joses.

A year to the day of last years overtime victory that put the Sharks up 3-0 on the Wings, San Jose endured an up-and-down evening which, without Antti Niemis best game as the Sharks goalie, might have gotten them chased from the building.

Detroit controlled the first and large chunks of the first two periods, getting goals from Nicklas Lidstrom, Patrick Eaves and Datsyuk to tie the game at 1 and take 2-1 and 3-2 leads. In fact, McLellan was more unhappy with the play than the result, a lot more unhappy.

(Game 4) will be as hard on us as we make it. We didnt have a lot of polish, we didnt have enough better players in my opinion to play. We got away with one. We have to be better, because theyve proven they are not going to go away.

Of course, McLellan is also seeing Game 4 a year ago, in which the Sharks smugged their way through a 7-1 defeat that cost them a fifth game, one that this year is not really recommended, given the parity and trouble teams have had finishing series -- Tampa Bay notwithstanding.

Then again, he may also take time to notice that Thornton has been instrumental in four of the five overtime winners the Sharks have logged so far in this postseason. The NHL has had 20 overtime games so far, the second round isnt done yet, and the record is 28. San Jose has 25 percent of those wins, and zero percent of those losses. The persistent complaint that Thornton doesnt come up big in the spring has been de-legged, at least insofar as this truth: Thornton may not come up big, but he does come up subtle.

Setoguchi, on the other hand, is flash on flash. At least he was this night. If he can steal from Logan Couture and Cristiano Ronaldo on the same evening, the two holding penalties seem like barely a trifle.

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.