I love hanging out with Ray Ratto. He knows about everything that has ever happened in sports and has delightful stories about all manner of scoundrels, like professional gamblers, Canadians, and people who used to work for the San Francisco Chronicle. He even taught me to like and almost understand ice hockey. You can name a year and he’ll tell you who won the NLCS MVP. He’s an empathetic guy who cares about stuff and speaks in incredible sentences. As we are each other’s only Defector coworker in the Bay Area, it’s nice to have someone to talk shop with, and I can help him answer questions such as, “What is Barry Petchesky’s deal?” He will drink wine and I will drink beer, and at some point, no matter where we are, someone will ask him if he is Ray Ratto (he has a very funny go-to quip for this that I will not do him the disservice of spoiling here).
He doesn’t love this, though as Ray is a Bay Area sports media legend, the attention is understandable. He’s on the radio all the time, he used to be on the TV all the time, and if you care about any of the professional teams in the Bay Area, you almost certainly know who Ray is. We have not yet gone to any of the natural wine bars on Telegraph where all the hot, late-20s Oakland types go, but when we do, people will know who he is. Once they spot Ray, bar-goers will bother him with all manner of annoying sports questions—someone once asked him for his list of top-10 quarterbacks and he made a sound like a dying giraffe—that he mostly takes with good humor and the requisite return ribbing, though Ray definitely prefers to drink and talk shit and not confirm that he is Ray Ratto.
His righteous take here is that fans should simply care more about their favorite players on the field than the guys in the proverbial press box. I think this is true! But also, Ray has been doing this so well for so long, and Bay Area sports fans’ experience with their teams has been mediated by Ray for a good amount of that time, so I don’t think it’s an egregious imposition to be like, “Ray, thank you for doing blogs, etc.” I guess if you read this and see us out, it’s OK to say hi to him but don’t be weird about it.
Where I fit into these interactions is a somewhat trickier, though far less consequential, matter. Mostly I am ignored, which is fine by me. Sometimes people mistake me for one of Ray’s radio colleagues, none of whom look like me. One guy asked if I was Ray’s son, which I am not, and my negative response might have spared me from having to answer whether or not I thought this was the Niners’ year. I think Ray and my dad would get along great.