Ray Ratto

Ratto: Whispers Around 49ers Mean the Situation is Bad


Ratto: Whispers Around 49ers Mean the Situation is Bad

Oct. 25, 2010

Ray Ratto

ComradeMaioccos reportage on the Yorkies newfound discontent with MikeSingletary is both realistic, believable and logical in so many ways.He was supposed to be their human shield, and now he is merely one moredirectional arrow toward the reason the franchise is, well, the way itis.

And now with the 49ers in England (John Y. is head of the leaguesinternational committee, so this week must be going over like a hotlead latte), the chance of even more reasons to de-head the coacharises.

But if they really do think Singletary is not the coach for this team,the question about timing naturally arises. Mike Nolan got taken out aweek before the bye two years ago because the family had had enough,and because leaks about Nolans security were busting out everywhere.

And now . . . hey, leaks!

It seemed unthinkable that they would can Singletary before the seasonwas over, but if the ubiquitous people close to the situation arestarting to whisper, that means the situation is way worse than that.

This season is lost, and anyone who clings to the idiotic hope that thedivision is so bad that even this start can be overcome is flat crazy.This team is done, dead, doomed, and there will be no argument allowedin their defense. No coaching change will affect that in any way.

Thus, the only real reasons to fire Singletary are if he is making itno fun to own the team again (which is why Nolan got it), or if thereis some bright young assistant just itching for a chance (which theredoesnt seem to be). The first reason is weak. The second makes somesense.

But in a clever organization, one with deep institutional knowledge andthe people who know every human being in the league backward andforward and where all the brains are kept, there is a third. Theressomeone out there worth getting, and the process is already beingcreated to get him.

And even he will fail unless he has a strong, independent and smartgeneral manager running the football side. That has always been theYorks greatest failing, both father and son underestimating the needfor someone to be in charge of the football department withoutinterference from the non-football department. Someone to hire thecoaches and scouts, do the contract math and set the tone by which theorganization is run.

That means a transfer of power, and thats where the whole process of moving forward ceases.

When that changes, when the Yorks can stop being tired of the coachestheyve hired and move on to being tired of operating a franchise withthese kinds of results year in and year out, then we can talk about afranchise turning the corner. But firing Mike Singletary, whenever thathappens, will make them feel good. You decide whats more important.

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.