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

MLS respects timing more than dominance, so Quakes have a counterpuncher's chance

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MLS respects timing more than dominance, so Quakes have a counterpuncher's chance

The San Jose Earthquakes cheated the reaper Sunday, which is news in and of itself. I mean, they’re a playoff team so rarely that getting to a 35th game is quite the achievement, and they should not begin the arduous process of sobering up until Tuesday morning.

I mean, their playoff game with Vancouver is Wednesday night, so slapping themselves back into form is probably a priority.

They got an improbable stoppage time goal from Marco Urena Sunday against Minnesota to sneak through the back door into the final Western Conference playoff spot Sunday, their first appearance in the postseason in five years. It was as electrifying a moment as Avaya Stadium has seen since it opened, and one of the best goals in franchise history if only for its importance.

That said, the Quakes also enter the postseason with a losing record (13-14-7) and the worst goal difference (minus-21) for any playoff team in league history. They are the most cinder-based of the league’s Cinderella stories, and are dismissed with prejudice by most observers as being as one-and-done as one-and-done can be without being none-and-done.

This is a league, though, that has respected timing more than dominance. In 2016, the Montreal Impact finished last in the East and got to the conference final; in 2012, Houston (which was a relocated Quakes team) just snuck in to the postseason and reached the final; in 2005 and 2009, the worst (Los Angeles and Real Salt Lake) ended up first.

In other words, the Quakes’ pedigree, modest though it is, still allows it a counterpuncher’s chance. Its attack, which is third-worst in the league, playoffs or no, is matched by its defense, which is fourth-worst in the league. Their years as a de facto vehicle for Chris Wondolowski are coming to a close, sooner rather than later. They are in no way an elegant team. They are working on their second coach of the year (Chris Leitch).

But therein lies their mutating charm. Their postseason pedigree stinks, but there is a no compelling reason why they cannot cheat a result or two. After all, the lower scoring a sport is, the greater chance for an upset, and the Quakes’ history screams that no franchise could use one more.

So they head for Vancouver, a raucous crowd and a difficult side, carrying with them only their humble resume and the indomitable cheek demanded of the upstart. I mean, anybody in their right mind would much prefer the Whitecaps’ chances, but you gotta be who you gotta be.

Plus, the Quakes are getting a 35th game, which is more than they had a right to expect, all things considered.

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

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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.