Ray Ratto

Ratto: Time to shut up about Alex Smith


Ratto: Time to shut up about Alex Smith

Sept. 9, 2011


Follow @RattoCSNRay Ratto
CSNBayArea.comWe do a lot of challenges and contests around here as part of our pledge to be so interactive with our audience that it makes us all hurl.Well, heres mine. See if you can shut up about Alex Smith for as long as possible.Set it up as a kind of game of Charades, or as a drinking game, or make physical threats a part of it. We dont care. As long as you dont invoke the name.
See, heres the deal. You dont have anything new to say about Alex Smith. We know this because weve been at it for seven years and we dont have anything new to say about Alex Smith. There isnt anything new for anyone to say about Alex Smith because theres nothing new about Alex Smith.And dont give us the But hes the quarterback and the quarterback is the most important position on earth and the 49er quarterback is an exalted position in the galaxy and . . . argument. Its lazy thinking. Shut up about all of it. Youve used that excuse long enough. Youre done. Were all done.Let us lay it out for you to help you with it.1. Alex Smith cannot help the 49ers get better.
2. The 49ers cannot help Alex Smith get better.
3. Alex Smith isnt a longterm solution for them and theyre not a longterm solution for him.
4. Your continued whining, bitching, carping and sniveling about him is pointless, time-wasting and boring.
5. Your friends will hate you if you keep invoking his name, to the point where they will either force you into rehab, an intervention, or just skip to Step Three and beat the hell out of you.In other words, were doing this for you.Do you want to be the girl who bores her friends? Do you want to be the guy who gets his hinder kicked by his friends? Do you want to be known as a bore with only one subject on his mind?If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then you should give your car keys to a more responsible adult, and go to your room until the answer is no.Because the answer has to be no. Smith was badly served the day he was drafted by the wrong team for the wrong reason to do the wrong job. It isnt his fault he wasnt Aaron Rodgers, and that some team with every reason to prefer Aaron Rodgers thought he was better than Aaron Rodgers because he dressed better and talked better and practiced better than Aaron Rodgers.You dont go on and on about Mike Nolan for making that call, do you? No. You say Alex Smith over and over again to the point where his names blur together into one -- Alexsmith. And if saying his name is in your mind sufficient, and it is, then youve talked too long on the subject.And you have, because everyone has, and its time to move to another name. Jim Harbaugh, Jed York, Patrick Willis, Michael Crabtree, it doesnt matter. Just so it isnt Alex Freaking Smith any more.So thats your challenge, completely unsanctioned by ComcastNBC Intergalactic Headquarters or any of its subsidiaries. Stop saying the name, stop making salient points about him that you think are unique but really arent, and stop saying the name Colin Kaepernick like its the secret antidote.And dont say Scott Tolzein at all.But if your interest skill set is that bankrupt and you cant manage the silence, at least stop blaming him for the mess around him unless you blame the mess around him for him.And then shut up about him. And that goes for all of us. Because if we can all agree to do this one thing, we all win in the end, whether the 49ers do or not. You may not win a luxurious ComcastNBC Intergalactic Headquarters prize package, but you will avoid a beating that you will richly deserve, and isn't that better than a ball cap?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.