Kenny Rogers, Ken Macha, blah blah blah. All we ever hear about these days is Kenny, Ken, Ken. Somebody should hold a Ken fast. I'd do it myself, but I'm afraid I'd end up like that kid in that Gary Larson Far Side strip who accidentally sucks himself into a bottle.
So let's take a breath, and contemplate some non-Ken news. Guillaume Latendresse of the Montreal Canadiens just became the first person in the history of the NHL to wear uniform #84. It was the last unused number in NHL history. This got me curious about A's uniform numbers. There's a list of uniform numbers over at Baseball Almanac. Which leads us to:
Ken's Non-Ken Fact of the Day:
The lowest number that has never been worn by an Oakland A's player during the regular season is 62.
Ken's Non-Ken Addendum of the Day to Ken's Non-Ken Fact of the Day:
Only four numbers above 62 have been worn by Oakland Athletics players: 64 (Joe Blanton), 73 (Ricardo Rincon), 75 (Barry Zito) and 99 (Willie Crawford).
And now, back to your regularly scheduled Ken programming.
OK, so Kenny Rogers used pine tar. I don't care. I don't like Rogers, but I'm not going to jump on the "Get Kenny Rogers" bandwagon just so I can feel a little schadenfreude.
I don't think the pine tar explains why he beat the A's in the ALCS or the Yankees in the ALDS. On the levels of cheating scale, this ranks just beyond stealing signs. Stealing signs is fully preventable. If you lose because someone cheated you that way, blame yourself. Stopping pine tar abuse is a little harder than that, but once you know someone's done it, you don't let him do it again. You check every time. Rogers won't have that advantage anymore. If he beats you again because of it, blame yourself. Move on.
As for Ken Macha, I don't feel a bit sorry for him. He knew exactly what he was getting into when he signed that contract. He probably didn't want to stay in Oakland and work for Billy Beane, but it turned out to be his best option, so he took it. Now he can sit at home in Pittsburgh for two years, and collect $2 million for services already rendered. Good for him.
The person to blame here is Billy Beane. He obviously micromanages his managers. But anyone in business knows, if you have to micromanage an employee, you have hired the wrong employee. Any business thrives best when you hire people you can trust to leave alone to do their jobs. Which leaves one of three possibilities:
Billy Beane is incapable of trusting anyone enough to leave alone to do their jobs;
Billy Beane made the mistake of retaining someone whom he couldn't trust enough to leave alone to do his job; or
There is nobody in organized baseball who is both qualified to lead a team as manager, and who also understands and agrees with the Moneyball philosophy of risk management. As a result, there is nobody out there he can fully trust to do the job, so he hired someone who was not what he wanted, but someone who was "good enough" for now.
One way or another, Beane is accountable for the error. Let's hope it's error #2, and Beane can learn from it and do better next time.
If it's error #3, then Beane is guilty of not preparing someone for the job. Somebody within the organization should be groomed for the job under the current management philosophy, and be ready to go if called upon.
If it's error #1--yikes. If Beane is a hopeless micromanager, this scene will just repeat itself over and over. As a part-owner, Beane is now essentially GM for life, or at least, until the team is sold. Ugly things happen when you can't get rid of an evil or incompetent dictator. Checks and balances are a good thing.