With the A's reaching the second round of the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade, some were surprised as to the speed which the team dispatched their manager of four years, Ken Macha. Initially, his dismissal came just with the saying that their was a "disconnect" between Macha and the front office, namely the team's general manager, Billy Beane. But in the week or so following, the press has been full of players claiming he snubbed them or left them in the dark as to why decisions were made. Now Macha is answering back, tired of seeing his name "dragged in mud."
As fans of the game, we don't expect to know all the nuances of how a team is put on the field, how lineups are decided, and how relations are between the dozens of individuals that comprise a 25-man roster and a team's front office. While on the surface, a team like the A's might be full of smiles and excellent camaraderie, we have seen this crack in the armor grow, revealing ugliness between players and manager, and manager and the front office, that in combination, left no option but to make a change.
A report in the San Francisco Chronicle today said that Macha's firing came from "too much interference". He felt that he couldn't make critical decisions independently, and had to relay orders coming from above while acting as those were his calls. Regulars and backups alike, from Adam Melhuse to Mark Kotsay, Jay Payton and Bobby Kielty are all cited as having confronted Macha about playing time, while it was clear the team was far from unanimity on which starting pitchers should take the mound against the Tigers in the ALCS. That the team was swept 4-0 surely didn't help anybody's cause.
In the wake of Macha's firing, GM Beane was asked if Macha would have been fired had he won the World Series. Beane's answer was quite telling: "We'll never know." This was damning in two ways - one reminding that the A's didn't win the World Series, and the second being that the issues around Macha were more than anything we saw on the field. For a team that should be basking in the memory of a hard-fought season where they took the division title, and swept the Minnesota Twins out of the ALDS, instead the A's are very publicly fighting amongst themselves over who said what when, and it's very petty. It shouldn't be like this, and regardless of who's right, it's time to be done with it. Macha is gone, and the A's have a lot of work to do to make sure 2007 is an even greater success.
San Francisco Chronicle: 'Hurt' by players' comments, Macha tells his side of story
Inside Bay Area: Macha Voices Dismay
Listening to ''Gamemaster'', by Lost Tribe (Play Count: 6)