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Macha Out?
2006-10-16 04:59
by Philip Michaels

Ken Macha -- you've just managed the Oakland A's to an appearance in the American League Championship Series. What are you going to do next?

"I'm stepping down, either by choice or by request!"

Or, at least, that's what Ken Macha will be doing in the next day or so if this San Francisco Chronicle report is to be believed.

One team insider said Sunday that it is unclear if any firm decision has been made about Macha's status, but there is no doubt that Macha is on shaky ground, despite taking the team to the American League Championship Series and despite having two years remaining on his contract.

When reached Sunday evening, general manager Billy Beane would not comment on Macha's future other than to say, "The end of the year is the time for evaluation, not only players, but staff as well. It's a matter of routine this time of year."

Man, I hate reruns.

To sum up, the signs and portents suggesting a Macha departure this time around are these:

  1. You now need a second hand to count the number of players griping about Macha's communication skills.
  2. Macha's attitude to injured players is apparently something out of a Ben Hur slave galley -- "We keep you alive to serve the ship" -- which is not a way to make millionaires feel all warm and fuzzy about you.
  3. Macha himself does not particularly care for life under the thumb of Billy Beane and his mainframe computer, 20-sided dice, and protractor.

I'm surprised by this rumored turn of events, largely because I had no idea the attitude toward Macha had turned so negative. (Mark Kotsay doesn't get along with Ken Macha? But they seem so chummy in those Fitzpatrick Hummer ads!) My own feelings about Ken Macha as a manager are slightly more nuanced than I've let on in public. I find him to be of questionable value as an in-game strategist, particularly when it comes to summoning relievers from the bullpen. On the other hand, I'm fully aware that on the spectrum of Major League managers, Macha probably falls somewhere in the middle -- there are a few managers who are better than him, there are others who are a whole lot worse. Of course, that assessment was based largely on the belief that, whatever Macha's failings with allocating the resources given to him, he was at least able to keep 25 guys on an even keel for a six-month grind. That doesn't appear to be the case if the Chronicle story has it straight.

We've a ways to go before published reports become certified facts. Firing Macha would mean eating the last two years of his contract, which is something the A's aren't particularly fond of doing. So after whatever hubbub this story causes, chances are that Ken Macha will still be the A's manager when the team re-assembles in Phoenix next spring.

But then there's one paragraph of the story that makes me think Susan Slusser might be on to something here:

Toward the end of the season, one member of the starting lineup was openly critical of Macha in the clubhouse. By the final weekend of the regular season, another prominent member of the team had joined in the criticism. Several players went so far as to take their complaints to Beane, telling him they did not want to return to the club if Macha remained as manager, according to sources.

It's one thing if you have Terrence Long or Adam Piatt or even Adam Melhuse sniping about your communication skills. If those last names of the people described above look anything like "Kotsay," "Thomas," "Kendall," or "Chavez," Bob Geren better start planning on how he wants to decorate the manager's office right now.

Maybe Ken's prediction of a Dick Williams revival isn't so fanciful after all.

2006-10-16 06:14:28
1.   Chyll Will
Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones didn't take their issues that seriously when they did ads together, neither did Burt and Loni...

oh, wait.

2006-10-16 06:23:51
2.   Vishal
i wouldn't mind seeing the beginning of the ron washington era, though i really don't know too much about what his philosophies are.
2006-10-16 11:07:22
3.   standuptriple
The manager of the Rivercats has done well. Could he be in the running too?
2006-10-16 11:40:43
4.   Ken Arneson
I'm not going to suffer through this hokey-pokey again. Wake me up when this dance is over.
2006-10-16 12:15:08
5.   standuptriple
Will they let him go and then re-hire him? Because that would be awesome.
2006-10-16 12:29:04
6.   Philip Michaels
5 Only if each year, the terms of his re-hiring become just a little bit more humilating.

"Sure, I'll bring you back, Mach... but next year, you have to wear this bear suit. And on visits to the mound, you have to ride out there on a unicycle."

"But... I don't know how to ride a unicycle."

"Well, you better start learning then."

2006-10-16 12:43:40
7.   Philip Michaels
4 Wake up. The dance is over...

2006-10-16 12:55:38
8.   Ken Arneson
7 They said Macha was gone last year, too. I mean wake me up when they've hired a new manager.
2006-10-16 13:05:50
9.   Xeifrank
It would be interesting to see a study from each year of the new managers selected. How many were recycled managers (previous big league managerial experience) and how many were first time managers, or managers hired from the minor leagues. It just seems like there are alot of recycled managers. Pinella to the Cubs. I mean, how many times has this guy been recycled now? What are the benefits or reasoning behind hiring so many recycled managers? I mean, weren't these guys fired for a reason in the first place? If I had a few gajillion dollars and had my own team, I'd hire the best manager I could, whether they were from the minors, college, or the recycle bin. vr, Xei
2006-10-16 13:40:57
10.   Xeifrank
Well, it's offical now. Macha is out. Everyone get their resumes polished. Dusty Baker is out there!!!
vr, Xei
2006-10-16 13:42:17
11.   Bob Timmermann
Piniella went from the Yankees to the Reds to the Mariners to the Devil Rays to the Cubs.
2006-10-16 14:12:12
12.   standuptriple
As much as I would hate to, I will officially boycott the A's 2007 season if they hire Dusty.
2006-10-16 14:20:06
13.   Philip Michaels
I almost certain it will be Bob Geren who fits the three criteria Billy Beane seeks in a manager:

1. Cheap
2. Pliant
3. Low-profile

12 It will almost certainly not be Dusty who would command more money than the A's are willing to spend on a manager.

2006-10-16 14:34:31
14.   Ken Arneson
13 I think so too. I thought so last year too. Ron Washington is a fabulous 3rd base coach, but I get the feeling he isn't as pliant as Billy Beane would like.
2006-10-16 15:20:31
15.   Kayaker7
10 The one thing that is great about having a job in the public eye, you don't have to update your resume.
2006-10-16 15:21:47
16.   Kayaker7
Meet the new A's manager:

2006-10-16 15:32:16
17.   Ken Arneson
16 That should be A'simo.
2006-10-16 17:18:09
18.   trainwreck
Beane likes Showalter he has said it in interviews before. He could be a dark horse candidate.
2006-10-16 17:19:30
19.   Kayaker7
A little factoid on Asimo, it's pronounced like, "Ashimo," which means something, "Legs, even" in Japanese. The Japanese language does not have a syllable that can be pronounced like "see" (neither does another related language, Korean), rather it is pronounced like "she."
2006-10-16 17:20:31
20.   Kayaker7
18 I thought communication was not exactly Showalter's strong suit. Communication seems to be the major reason given by Beane for dismissing Macha.
2006-10-16 21:41:43
21.   Jason Snell
19 I always pronounced it "Asimo," like "Asimov," because its name is a tip of the hat to Isaac Asimov, author of the Robot series of stories and novels and the famed "Three Laws of Robotics."

Things you talk about on an A's blog...

2006-10-16 22:35:16
22.   das411
Somebody ask Bob who Lou was traded for from Seattle to Tampa Bay!
2006-10-17 10:13:10
23.   Kayaker7
21 I've read that it was a tip of the hat to Asimov also, but I think that was a story that they came up with later to save Honda the embarrassment. The "legs" explanation was out first, if I recall correctly. The main thing about Asimo that was touted from the beginning was its ability to walk.

When I lived Japan for 2 years, I saw many cases of incorrect romanization of Japanese word, simply because some idiosycrasies of the Japanese language. For example, I've seen the surname, "Matsuda" often written as "Matuda," because the Japanese language does not have a syllable can be pronounce like, "too." That is why the movie, "Twister," was translated as, "Tsuisuta." The world reknown Japanese instrument maker, Mitutoyo, should be written as "Mitsutoyo," in order for it to be pronounced properly by Westerners.

Similarly, the Japanese pronunciation of "CD" sounds like, "sheedee."

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