Ray Ratto

Ratto's AP Top 25 Poll (109)

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Ratto's AP Top 25 Poll (109)

Every week, our intrepid jackass . . . sorry, senior insider Ray Ratto votes in the Associated Press College Football Poll. This is this weeks latest stab at perfection.

RANKTEAMLAST WEEKTHIS WEEKCOMMENT1LSUBEAT FLORIDA, 41-11At TennesseeAre there any non-believers left?2ALABAMABEAT VANDERBILT, 38-10At MississippiNovember 5 looks bigger and bigger3OKLAHOMABEAT TEXAS, 55-17At KansasNovember 6 looks bigger and bigger4BOISE STATEBEAT FRESNO STATE, 57-7At Colorado StateBrilliantly positioned to be odd man out again5CLEMSONBEAT BOSTON COLLEGE, 36-14At MarylandWasn't that long ago that this would have been an impressive result6WISCONSINSat idly while rest of would toiledINDIANAMichigan State in two weeks looks intriguing7STANFORDBEAT COLORADO, 48-7At Washington StateEventually, a challenge will reveal itself8OKLAHOMA STATEBEAT KANSAS, 70-28At TexasThis is suddenly less daunting a game for 'Pokes9ARKANSASBEAT AUBURN, 38-14Kickin' back for the time beingHolding serve until South Carolina November 510OREGONBEAT CALIFORNIA, 43-15ARIZONA STATEA possible Pac-12 title game preview, for what little that may be worth11MICHIGANBEAT NORTHWESTERN, 42-24At Michigan StateA halftime scare was all this was12GEORGIA TECHBEAT MARYLAND, 21-16at VirginiaNot a brilliant result, but sufficient13TEXAS A&MBEAT TEXAS TECH, 45-40BAYLORAs predicted here, Tech was better than it seems14WEST VIRGINIABEAT CONNECTICUT, 43-16Accordion lessonsJust lookin' for a home15VIRGINIA TECHBEAT MIAMI, 38-35at Wake ForestA bigger game than expected, suddenly16ILLINOISBEAT INDIANA, 41-20OHIO STATE"Is Ohio State still in the league?" not a question Illinois fans ever figured to ask17KANSAS STATEBEAT MISSOURI, 24-17At Texas TechOkay, so we were late on these guys. Calm the hell down18HOUSTONBEAT EAST CAROLINA, 56-3Admiring that"0" at the end of their recordWish we had more confidence in Conference USA19TEXASLost Oklahoma, 55-17OKLAHOMA STATENow that'll straighten your teeth20NEBRASKABEAT OHIO STATE, 34-27Game-planning for MinnesotaThat ought to kill a half-hour21SOUTH CAROLINABEAT KENTUCKY, 54-3At Mississippi StateSpurrier has his quarterback, at least until Thursday22BAYLORBEAT IOWA STATE, 49-26At Texas A&MThis could be last call, or it could be one last middle finger to the SEC23ARIZONA STATEBEAT UTAH, 35-14At OregonBet they lead at halftime, and then they don't24TEXAS TECHLost to Texas A&M, 45-40KANSAS STATEA big'un, no question25WAKE FORESTBEAT FLORIDA STATE, 35-30VIRGINIA TECHReplaced Washington, which had the week off. That'll teach them not to be indolent

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.