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The Macha Details Trickle Out
2006-10-16 22:55
by Philip Michaels

Just to formally answer the question I posed earlier today: Yes, Macha out. And the more I read about the details behind the sacking, the more convinced I am that the A's made the right call, even if it has people far removed from the situation scratching their heads. Consider this quote from the Chronicle story from Barry Zito:

"The fact is, when you have someone leading people, you want them to be a visionary, to forge ahead and be on the front lines,'' Zito said. "We felt like we were on the front lines, and he might have been with us but he didn't have the same conviction or faith. I think it was a fear of failure. He was a little more focused on the pessimistic stuff than on success."

Or, if criticism carries more weight for you if it comes from a player who will still be wearing an A's uniform next year, here's a comment from Jason Kendall:

"I know that the one thing any player wants from his manager is to be protected,'' catcher Jason Kendall said. "If there's a bang-bang play at first, even if you're out, if you're arguing you want someone there behind you. If you argue a pitch, even if you're wrong, you want someone joining in. And I'm not sure Macha did that.''

Oh, we'll excerpt one more quote, this one from Mark Kotsay:

"I heard Steve Phillips on ESPN saying, 'I don't understand this move because those guys were playing (well) for Macha,' '' Kotsay said. "Well, we didn't play for him. This collective group wanted to win together, we felt we have a chance to win together, and we provided the leadership. The core guys who went out and played every day were the leaders of the team and carried us through the uncertainty. If there were problems, they were dealt with among the 25 guys.''

That's some pretty damning stuff, particularly in an era in which athletes talking on the record tend to murmur bland pronouncements about the recently departed. Ken Macha may have had many strengths as a manager, but motivating his players and convincing them that he was in their corner apparently weren't among them.

And really, what else is a manager supposed to do? With a few possible brainteasers, the strategic decisions that come up in the course of a baseball game are so cut-and-dried that you or I could sit there with a copy of Weaver on Strategy and probably do a passable job, summoning pinch hitters and calling for the hit-and-run. Filling out a lineup card has little appreciable impact on a team's performance over the long haul -- for heaven's sake, the Detroit Tigers are about to win a World Series title with Jim Leyland regularly submitting a lineup that seems designed to make sure that the team's best hitter is burried as deep in the order as possible. At the end of the day, all a manager can do is keep his players from killing one or another or falling prey to the many pitfalls that crop up over the grind of 162 games.

Ken Macha didn't do that. In fact, if the A's players quoted above are to be believed, his attitude was one of the pitfalls. If that's the case, then we're best rid of him, even if it means he'll still be cashing paychecks signed by Lew Wolf well into 2008.

2006-10-17 01:36:49
1.   WaDsTa
I agree with the move 100%, and was hoping for this even before the recent reports on the lack of communication. Although I didn't know this side of the story, I can comment on the moves Macha does (or doesn't) make in a game. He cost us Game 2 and possibly Game 4 in the ALSC, although I think the Tigers were going to win regardless, as well as many games in the regular season due to poor decisions during the game. Sure, everyone makes mistakes and anyone can critisize a managers moves, but how many times does it take for someone to learn what not to do. Regarding the comment from Kendall, I have a saying that I think holds true with Macha, "The A's were built to win in the posteseason, they were not built to manage the postseason."


2006-10-17 09:52:41
2.   Bluebleeder87
thanks for the link Philip Michaels, it gives you a nice look at the inside workings of a professional team
2006-10-17 12:30:23
3.   scareduck
"cute-and-dried"? Hello Kitty for A's manager! Think about what this could mean:

• Always behind the players. Heck, Billy Beane could duct tape one to each player's behind, if it came to it.

• Won't make screwups in lineup construction or bullpen utilization by virtue of being a stuffed animal.

• Will work on the very cheap.

2006-10-17 13:37:05
4.   Linkmeister
Re: Kotsay

My goodness. A straightforward statement from an insider. Has he never been to PR school?

2006-10-17 13:56:29
5.   Philip Michaels
3 The typo has been fixed and the urchin I pay to transcribe my dictation has been mercilessly beaten.

I hope you're happy.

2006-10-17 14:43:08
6.   Ken Arneson
5 I don't know if Rob's happy now, but I'm not. I prefered the typo. I want a cute-and-dried manager.

I think we can do better than Hello Kitty, though. Mark Donohue would probably suggest Alyson Hannigan; I agree she's pretty cute, and I've never seen her wet. Although if she drinks alcohol, that might eliminate her in that sense of the word "dried". The A's have a dry clubhouse, so I can see why it's a qualification.

However, I'll suggest my six-year-old daughter. She's cute, she doesn't drink alcohol, and although she enjoys swimming and taking baths, she spends most of her days in a state of non-wetness.

More qualifications:

• She can fill out an A's lineup card by herself; she already knows all the players' names, uniform numbers and positions.

• She's very outgoing and friendly. I'm sure she'd say "hi" to Adam Melhuse more often than Ken Macha did.

• She'd work more cheaply than Ken Macha

• She can throw a better temper tantrum than Ken Macha, so the players think she "has their back".

• She's really good at math, so she'd totally be cool with the Billy Beane statistical program.

What else could you want?

2006-10-17 14:45:59
7.   Linkmeister
Wouldn't Bobby Valentine fit the "cute and dried" requirement?

And Ken, if you're gonna be your daughter's agent, wouldn't you be violating your fiduciary duty if you got smaller wages for her than Macha got?

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