"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.