Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Macha Deserved Better Fate, As So Many Of Them Do

Already, before this playoff run has even been completed, the Tigers are leaving casualties in their wake.

The Oakland A's fired manager Ken Macha yesterday, a few days after the Tigers dispatched his club in four straight games to capture the AL pennant. Better hands have been dealt.

In four seasons -- his first job as a manager -- Macha's A's won 360 games, an average of 90 per season. This season, the A's appeared in their first ALCS since 1992. They swept away a Twins team that was the hottest in baseball going into the postseason. Then they ran into a buzz saw of a Tigers team -- one that not even the mighty Yankees could handle.

All that, and Macha got the pink slip anyway.

The old football coach Bum Phillips said that if a team wants to fire you, they'll come up with a reason.

In this case, A's management trotted out one of the excuses from the team brass Greatest Hits Album: He wasn't communicating with his players. Whatever that means.

It's an age old, handy reason. It at least dates back to the Pistons slapstick days, when the team fired Ray Scott as coach in 1976. "He wasn't communicating well with his players," Pistons GM Oscar Feldman fed the media at the time. Age old.

"I felt that there was a disconnect," A's GM Billy Beane said in announcing Macha's cashiering. "It's not to point the finger squarely at Ken."

Yet it is only Ken who is losing his job.

I don't know then, what could have saved Macha. Beating the Tigers once? Twice? Four times? What would have demonstrated that there was no "disconnect"? And how was he not communicating? Perhaps it was with Frank Thomas that Ken Macha had trouble communicating. Thomas went hitless in the ALCS. The Big Hurt was exactly that -- to his own team. Maybe Nick Swisher was another with which Macha didn't communicate so good. Swisher got exactly one hit in the Tigers series. Swisher -- an appropriate name, considering the results of so many of his swings.

But the A's weren't going to fire their two sluggers, who had so cruelly abandoned them in the worst possible time, so the manager gets the ziggy instead. Poor communication.

Poor excuse.


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