Ray Ratto

Super Bowl a loss, not a legacy for Brady


Super Bowl a loss, not a legacy for Brady

Let us now assess Tom Bradys legacy in light of Sundays 21-17 loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI.

Shut up.

In fact, lets agree that that answer also suffices for Bill Belichick, Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin too. All the way down to Chris Snee and Sterling Moore, if you must.

And heres why: Legacies are not for the active player. They are also not for the active sportswriter, even though that seems to be the new staple of the craft -- What does the thing I just saw So-and-so do affect how we think of him in 20 years?

And therein lies the one truly dissatisfying theme from the Super Bowl and yes, that includes M.I.A. trying to become some social provocateur by using an everyday gesture to shock people who can no longer be shocked by anything.


Brady has now lost two Super Bowls by a total of eight points, David Tyree and Mario Manningham. He must stink. Belichick too, for letting his defense go to seed instead of being the smartest man in the universe.

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And Manning now has as many Super Bowl rings as Jim Plunkett and two years out of eight where his quarterback rating has resided over 90. And Coughlin has as many rings as Tom Flores and George Seifert, neither of whom is in the Hall of Fame but has the advantage of being fired every other week in the media.

In other words, the legacy topic is a fraud. You cannot make a legacy while someone is still crafting it. A legacy is not like a gauge that moves back and forth every time you step on the gas.

And while were at it, a legacy isnt even made by the athlete or coach in question. It is one of those eye-of-the-beholder things. Brady was going to be Joe Montana if he had won Sunday -- except to the people who prefer Joe Montana, or Johnny Unitas, or John Elway, or Otto Graham, or Sid Luckman. A players career is now simply a rolling argument, to be kicked up and down the bar floor by whomever happens to be playing at the time.

In short, when you hear the word legacy, youre on safe ground only if a player has retired and promises not to commit some heinous crime (O.J. Simpson), or decides to become an owner (Mario Lemieux), do charitable works (Quintin Dailey), become a famous broadcaster (John Madden), or die (too numerous to mention).

In fact, when you get down to it, even dying isnt that safe an option if the famous figure has done something that nobody knew about until the will was read.

So what we have here when we do the How it affects his legacy nonsense is an entirely subjective, always changing, potentially erroneous and cheap media device designed to get people arguing until the show ends, the end of the paper is reached, or closing time. It means exactly nothing.

Oh, and one other thing -- any legacy discussion is heavily weighted toward the thing someone just did, which is why Brady failed, Belichick is only a good coach, Coughlin is a genius, and Eli is the Manningest Manning of them all. Today.

If truth be told, Brady is still one of the finest quarterbacks of all time, Belichick is the dominant coach of the modern era, Coughlin is underrated but no longer underappreciated, and Manning is an impressive late bloomer. Those things wont change unless and until they do something either spectacular or horrific or just plain bizarre in the future.

And anything is possible.

So argue legacies all you want if you must, but you must know that Sundays game didnt really destroy any. It bent and misdirected a paragraph here and there, but legacies . . . no. The legacy hook is merely a way to waste everyones time with an hoary old story construct that has no lasting merit even while it is being typed, spoken or mimed.

Although if Rob Gronkowski could have reached the ball that Kenny Phillips batted away on the last play of the game . . .

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.