The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

If the season ended today, the Oakland Athletics would make the playoffs as the wildcard. The playoffs, after being 15 games under 0.500 in late May!

The hot streak ended tonight as the green and gold fell 2-0 to the visiting Cleveland Indians. The A's offense did nothing until the final inning, when they put runners on first and second. At this point, closer Bob Wickman -- who reminds me of my cat Archie as they are both goofily cheerful, ridiculous, and quite large -- got an assist from the manager.

Not the Indians manager though; it was hometown skipper Ken Macha who put the bunt sign on for Mark Ellis! Down two runs, Macha tried to bunt with his 0.300 hitter who had a nine game hitting streak! (The "hot hand" is nonsense, but I'll try anything to avoid bunting. "Look Ken, he has The Good Face." More relevant is that Ellis is fast and therefore could wiggle out of some double plays.)

Have you ever had plenty of time to get to an engagement or appointment, but frivolled so much of it away that you were then forced to rush and arrived shamefaced and late? Such is the experience of those who bunt. Two men on and no out looked like a limitless oasis of opportunity as Ellis was commanded to bunt. He tried twice, damn near popped out on the second attempt, then struck out swinging. No problem! Still one out!

Then Bobby Crosby hit a fly ball to center.

At that point the A's were down to their final out, and Chavez could not get the job done. Suddenly Ellis' squandered opportunity looked a lot more important.

Macha has been a steady hand on the till, and refused to let the team get down on itself during the long losing streak. But it's still irritating to see him throw away some large percentage of a chance at victory. Is there some obscure law that dictates that all big league managers must be no less than five per cent fucking idiot? Just what surplus of resources does Oakland possess that they can squander to satisfy baseball tradition?



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