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Coin Flips
2006-09-12 15:37
by Ken Arneson

Here at Catfish Stew, we have been tracking the Oakland A's completely unbelievable bad luck in coin flip situations. Today, MLB set the home fields for playoff tiebreakers. The A's lost their 10th consecutive coin flip, this time to the Anaheim Angels. If the A's and Angels finish tied at the end of the regular season, the Angels will host the tiebreaker.

Consider this: the A's are 0-for-their-last-9 in playoff-advancing games, and 0-for-their-last-10 in playoff tiebreak coin flips. That, by itself, is a 1-in-524,288 longshot. Then throw in Kirk Gibson, two sucky players named Hatcher, and--for your only World Series victory in 30 years--a major earthquake, and you gotta start thinking that somebody up there has a really wicked sense of humor about the Oakland A's.

So while technically, the A's have a 5 1/2 game lead, and almost a 90% chance of making it to the postseason, to me, their playoff odds still feel like little more than a coin flip.

And yet, although we might have been given some bad breaks, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

* * *

For instance, although I'm sure everything worked out fine because I've never heard about any airplanes crashing into the San Francisco Bay wetlands, but I still feel fortunate that I wasn't on this plane. That looks scary.

* * *

Also scary: yet another Moneyball/What's-So-Great-About-Billy-Beane article has popped up, this time on by Jon Heyman at

Ho hum. You know, as an A's fan, should it matter to me if Billy Beane is a great GM or not, or if Ken Macha is a great manager or not, or if Lew Wolff is a great owner or not, if I am at least confident that they are competent?

I think all three are, at a minimum, competent at their jobs. The rest is gravy. (Or at least, it should be, but I suppose that won't stop me from barking when I feel they're making mistakes.)

* * *

I mean, imagine if the A's were owned by Charles Wang. If he ran the A's the way he's running the New York Islanders, Billy Beane might have been hired back in 1997, but he would have been fired two weeks later, and replaced as GM by the A's sixth starter, Dave Telgheder, who would have immediately signed up-and-coming star Ben Grieve to a 15-year contract that would today, even several years after Grieve's career went down the tubes, still have six years left on it.

There but for the grace of God go I. Charles Wang was actually my boss for about three hours back in 1994, when Wang's company, Computer Associates, purchased Ingres, my employer at the time. CA, as they love to tell you themselves, is a great place to work. You get free breakfast and day care! Unfortunately, I was childless at the time, so I didn't get to take advantage of the day care, but on the first day that CA took ownership of Ingres, I did receive a fat, sticky pastry to coat my stomach with, just before they showed me the door.

I'm not sure why they let me go, but now I think it pretty much went like this: OK, Tech-Support-Kid, here we go--heads, you're the new VP of Database Engineering, tails, you're fired. Oops, sorry, kid.

Maybe I coulda done some wicked cool things with that database, instead of watching it rot into irrelevance from afar, but then again, if that had happened, Charles Wang would have been my boss for more than three hours. Shudder.

* * *

More shuddering: if the coin flips in my life had gone differently, I might have been the guy who figured out that if you turn the energy flow in a refrigerator backwards, you will finally know where to put all the dung and dead Indians. Or even worse, I might have been the QA guy for that product, instead of the inventor. Ewwww.

* * *

Instead, here I am, many years and many figurative coin flips later, sitting in a pleasant room, with a pleasant view, following a pleasant team, and devoting my time instead to some weird thing called a Baseball Toaster. And that's just dandy. What were the odds of that?

2006-09-12 16:57:31
1.   Zak
Coin flips are like the playoffs - a crapshoot.
2006-09-12 18:43:18
2.   Sam DC
I love this post.
2006-09-12 22:28:41
3.   BlueMamma
What's all this then?

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