Ray Ratto

Ray's Top 25: Final bowl rsums submitted

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Ray's Top 25: Final bowl rsums submitted

Every week, our Senior Decider votes in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, which of course makes all other opinions both superfluous and valueless.

RATTO: Stanford races future with roses at their feet

1 NOTRE DAME Next up -- Alabama in the big one 2 OHIO STATE Next up -- Spring practice 3 ALABAMA After one of the best games of the year by any measure, next up -- Notre Dame 4 GEORGIA After having one too few time outs, next up -- Oklahoma in the Cotton 5 OREGON Next up -- Kansas State in the Fiesta (and some of these are just projections) 6 FLORIDA Next up -- Louisville in the Sugar 7 STANFORD After scaring the student body one last time, next up -- Wisconsin in the Rose 8 KANSAS STATE Texas got schooled but good, so next up -- Oregon in the Fiesta 9 LOUISIANA STATE Next up -- Clemson in the Chik-Fil-A 10 TEXAS A&M Next up -- Nebraska in the Capital One 11 SOUTH CAROLINA Next up -- Northwestern in the Outback 12 OKLAHOMA Next up --Georgia in the Cotton 13 FLORIDA STATE Next up -- Northern Illinois in the Orange 14 NORTHERN ILLINOIS Next up -- Florida State in the Orange. And good on them for that. 15 BOISE STATE Next up -- Washington in the Las Vegas 16 KENT STATE Next up -- Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato 17 CLEMSON Next up -- LSU in the Chik-Fil-A 18 OREGON STATE Next up -- Texas in the Alamo 19 UTAH STATE Next up -- Kent State in their Famous Idaho Potato 20 NORTHWESTERN Next up -- South Carolina in the Outback 21 UCLA Next up -- TCU in the Holiday 22 TEXAS Next up -- Oregon State in the Alamo 23 SAN JOSE STATE Next up -- Ohio in the Military, and grateful it isn't like the Marines 24 LOUISVILLE Next up -- Florida in the Sugar 25 TULSA Because this can't be Nebraska. Next up -- Louisiana Tech in the Liberty

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.