FIRE JOE MORGAN: I Don't See Any Problem With This


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Wednesday, October 18, 2006


I Don't See Any Problem With This

Today, Toronto Star, Richard Griffin:

Macha not a true believer
A's canned him because he wasn't a Moneyball guy

Those fourteen beautiful words tell the whole story.

On Monday, Ken Macha became the sixth major-league manager fired since Oct. 1. A's GM Billy Beane, in making the announcement, claimed there was a "disconnect on a lot of levels." The disconnect seems to be that the ego-driven Beane cannot find anyone to religiously manage by the book — his book, Moneyball.

If you take the trouble to write a book about baseball, the least your manager can do is try to abide by it.

"There were things that transpired over the course of the year that the players were unhappy about,'' A's center fielder Mark Kotsay said.

How'd that get in there? Ignore that. Back to the real story:

Now, we're getting as tired as anyone else of the baseball term originally coined as the title of a Michael Lewis book on how to compete on a limited budget by going against the grain of traditional baseball thinking.

Amen! Macha had the players' support. It was Beane's megalomania and Moneyball-worship that probably cost the A's the World Series this year.

"I felt like he didn't protect me,'' Zito said. "I know a lot of managers do -- (White Sox first baseman) Paul Konerko told me that Ozzie Guillen would take a bullet for his players. I was upset but Macha was fighting his own battle and he probably couldn't process that kind of pressure, so, OK, I'll wear it.''

Like many other things once new, Moneyball has become old. It doesn't work because now everybody does at least a little outside the box thinking. It's like comparing Ozzy Osbourne of the '70s to Osbourne today. No more edge.

Just like the A's, Ozzy doesn't know how to do the little things anymore. When was the last time you saw Ozzy lay down a sacrifice bunt and give himself up for the team? Not recently enough, if you ask me.

"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.''

The point about the Beane and Macha lack of chemistry is that Macha never bought into Moneyball and often, with a dry, somewhat quirky sense of humour, would let his true feelings come out in quotes not always flattering to the talents of the players he was given by Beane.

It's the manager's right -- no, his duty -- to tear down his players every chance he gets. That's smallball. The kind of ball we used to play in the good ol' small days. When managers made players feel small.

"When I got injured, I felt disrespected,'' Kotsay said. "The 'puzzling' comment really threw me. My manager didn't have my back, and every manager's first business is to protect his players. That totally lost my trust in that relationship, between us as player and manager.''

When Little was fired in Boston after '03 due to the Yankees playoff debacle, Macha's bench coach Terry Francona (also not a big fan of Moneyball) was hired by the Sox and went on to win the World Series.

Who could forget Terry Francona's two-run walkoff homer to win Game 4 of the ALCS? Or his grand slam in the second inning of Game 7? Everyone will always remember the famous Francona bloody sock game. If there's one thing that's for sure, it's this: Moneyball principles had absolutely nothing to do with the Red Sox winning the World Series. It was the handiwork of one man: Terry Francona.

"The atmosphere wasn't positive, for some reason,'' Chavez said. "That was hard for us to deal with -- here we are, winning the division, we're banged up but we're still doing what we should be doing, and every time he spoke to us, he'd say how much appreciated the effort, but then you'd read things where he was always smashing people. ... This negative cloud was just eating at everybody.''

Clearly, Macha knew what Beane always thought of him. It was only Macha's success of making it to the post-season with a great second-half that kept Beane's wolves at bay.

Ken Fucking Second Half Macha. The only reason the A's were any good, ever. Preach on, brother!

"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.''

Beane always blames managers, but the fact is the A's were just not deep enough or good enough to advance to the World Series. Macha is a National League manager, with a love of small-ball. The A's was his first opportunity to manage in the big leagues, so he was willing to take whatever Beane offered, to get his foot in the door. He is better off moving on.

Like Francona before him, the guess here is that Macha, with another managerial job, will earn a World Series chance before Beane ever does.

Not one word of this article is out of place. God bless you, Richard Griffin. God bless you, you brave, brave man.

"Deep down inside, I think he cared about the players, he just didn't have a good way of communicating,'' Chavez said. "He was always asking me about guys, he wanted to know if they were OK, but I was always the one he talked to in his office and I was probably the one who least needed to be in there.''


posted by Junior  # 8:10 PM
Thanks to reader Jim for pointing us to this gem from Richard Griffin's past:

Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi along with Oakland's Billy Beane and other new-wavers believe in building offence through patience at the plate and taking no chances on the bases. That's a pre-WWII style of play. Under those criteria, Jackie Robinson could not have played in the majors.

Jackie Robinson. The dude with the .409 lifetime OBP.

Could not have played in the majors.
The 1927 Yankees happened post-WWII, right?
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