I'm a huge A's fan and just came upon your site. I'm not particularly anti-Macha; actually, I blame mostly other things for the failures of the past five years (ex. Byrnes and Tejada's baserunning mistakes in Game 3 vs. Boston in 2003-- not the coach's fault). I even point to pitch-calling by the catchers (Hernandez calling fastball high after fastball high from Zito vs. Manny in Game 5 in 2003). And the Zito vs. Belliard this thing from this year was totally lucky; the curveball broke down and in (quality pitch), and somehow Belliard turned it around inside the foul pole. Some of the material seems to be just fodder for bashing and not thought of until after the game was lost (the whole "hindsight is always 20/20" thing).
Anyway, what are the big things that stick out as far as bad managing decisions that Macha has made that cost us huge games or playoff wins, in your mind? Do you think Art Howe was much better? Just curious to know.
Thanks for the letter, Sean. It's always nice to hear from A's fans, and dissenting opinions are welcome, because if my opinion cannot withstand the scrutiny of the other side of the argument, then perhaps I should re-examine my position.
However, my record of never being wrong continues unchecked, as Sean overlooked a few important details in his note. Actually, just one detail: that Macha's brain is a hunk of garbage.
Ok, first things first: Byrnes' and Tejada's brain freezes in Game 3 against Boston? 100% not Macha's fault. Professional ballplayers should know to touch home plate; they shouldn't have to be reminded by anybody. Byrnes and Tejada are morons, so Macha is completely exonerated from blame.
But the other two incidents? 100% Macha's fault. Let's look at them a little more closely. First up, is Zito vs. Manny in Game 5. Sean maintains that Hernandez was at fault for his pitch calling in that at-bat, and I'll address that claim later. But first, it is necessary to point out that Zito should have never been throwing those pitches in the first place, and the only reason he was is because Macha was asleep.
If you'll recall, Zito was starting that game on 3 days rest, the first time in his career he had undertaken such an endeavor. And for those of us watching the game, it was plainly evident that he was tiring in the 5th inning. In fact, he had allowed both a single and a walk in that frame, but Millar was thrown out at second trying to stretch his single into a double. Everyone who was watching that game (a group that does not include Macha, btw) was thinking that Zito should probably be taken out after that 5th frame. At any rate, he started the 6th, because Macha was still napping, and promptly allowed a game-tying homer to Jason Varitek. No ifs ands or buts about it, that pitch was a meatball, and Varitek crushed it. Any other manager gets somebody up after that. But not Macha. Because he was still sleeping.
2 of the next 3 batters reached, 1 via walk, and 1 via HBP. It is abundantly clear that Zito's control has vanished by this point in the game, and he needs to be taken out. However, nobody was warming up, so when up to the plate came Manny Ramirez, the homerun had already happened, we just hadn't seen it yet. So where was Chad Bradford, I asked? Not only had Bradford completely OWNED righties all season, but he had already struck Manny out the two times he had faced him in the series. He had completely tied him up in knots in both of those at-bats. Perhaps he should have been in the game? There was absolutely no excuse not to get him warmed up after Varitek's homerun, where he would have had 3 batters to get loose. The wrong guy was in the game at that point. Now, as to Sean's point that Hernandez should not have been calling high fastballs? Well, he wasn't. The gameplan that series was to bust Manny inside at the hands, something A's pitchers had done extremely well up until that point in the series. Zito left it over the plate because he was finished and his control was gone. That is why this is 100% Macha's fault. He didn't have the right guy in there, and when that happens, it's the wrong move, regardless of the outcome. It's entirely Macha's fault.
And as for his AB against Belliard last year? Same thing. It was obvious to anyone who was watching that Zito shouldn't have been pitching that 7th inning. He had been struggling all game, and was absolutely finished. Here is what I wrote that night on the subject. I held back my emotions for this post, I hope you appreciate it. Anyway, it was the same thing. Zito was finished, and his pitches weren't sharp. You know what happens to un-sharp curveballs in the big leagues? They get crushed into the outfield bleachers. The outcome of that AB surprised nobody but Macha.
But rather than go through instance by instance how much I hate Macha, I will address Sean's larger point, which is that I, as well as other fans, have the ability of 20/20 hindsight, so everytime something goes wrong, we can fit the facts to make it Macha's fault. That, in essence, it is the players who decide the outcome of games, and the manager is just along for the ride. But this is not true. For every situation in a game, there are a number of moves Macha can make. He can go with a number of pitchers, a number of batters, or defenders, and position them any way he wants. Most of the time, there will be one move that represents the best chance of attaining a favorable outcome. And most of the time, Macha chooses the wrong guy to put in. Yabu in the 10th? Wrong move. Hatte over Melhuse? Wrong move. Moves like this are more publicized because they end up going against the A's. But that doesn't change the fact that had Yabu gotten out of that jam, or had Hatte hit 4 homeruns that game, it still was the wrong move. How many times a year does Macha leave the starter in too long, either trying to get him a win, or steal just one more inning out of the guy, and end up getting burned? You have to do what is going to give your team the best chance to win. And most of the time, Yabu over Street and Hatte over Melhuse is going to be the wrong move. You don't know what is going to happen in a game before you go in (unless you're an A's fan and you're predicting an idiotic lineup or stupid pitching changes). You just have to know which players to call for in which situations. Where the fuck was Bradford in that game 5? Street was warmed up; why the fuck wasn't he brought in? And had Macha done both those things, and they STILL turned out poorly, well, that's when we realize that players aren't perfect. Bradford may have allowed that homer to Manny. Street might have come in and promptly allowed the winning run to score. Bases loaded, 1 out, and Manny Ramirez up at the plate? It would be tough for the 1999 Pedro Martinez to get out of that jam. But the right players WEREN'T in the game in those situations. The right players are NEVER in the game in those situations. Macha might as well be using a damn dartboard to decide his moves. And, as expected, he got burned.
I hate Macha because he never gives our best players the chance to win the game. I hate him because he insists on batting our worst hitters 2nd and 4th all season without realizing that there are better options. I hate him because he doesn't fight for the team, and I hate him because he's dumber than dog shit, and listening to him speak is the equivalent of receiving a root canal in your anal cavity. Sean, what I am doing is not 20/20 hindsight. It is you who is using post hoc rationalization in order to defend him, but in the end, whether wittingly or unwittingly, you're defending a criminal, a coward, and a nincompoop. The manager is not simply along for the ride in a baseball season. The manager can and does have an effect on the game. Unfortunately, with Macha, it's never the good kind of effect, only the bad kind.
Do I think Art Howe was better than Macha? Absofrigginlutely I do. Much better? No, not much better. But tangibly better. Howe would have brought in Bradford and Street in those situations, and somebody else would have been pitching to Belliard, I can promise you that. But Howe had his own problems, they were just fewer than Macha's. As far as Macha's bad managing decisions, it's pretty much everything I've described. Macha doesn't know how to adapt, react, or anticipate anything that happens in a game. He'll let himself get backed into a situation where Rincon HAS to face a righty, or where Byrnes HAS to do the same. Other managers toy with him. It's like at the end of a chess game, how some guy will manage to have 3 pawns, a bishop, and a rook (11 points), and his opponent just 2 pawns and 2 knights (8 points), and the underdog will win because he has the ability to use positioning to his advantage, and his opponent is sitting there with his thumbs up his ass, eagerly sacrificing his pieces while trying to get his pawns across the board, but in the end his pawns get killed too because he doesn't have the pieces left to protect them. The underdog had no business winning that game given the situation, but did, because his opponent was a retard. Well, Macha is that retard.
And that's why, every September, our opponents say to us, "Checkmate, Ken. Checkmate."
Thanks for the letter, Sean. If you would like to rebut any or all of my claims, send me a note, and you will be granted a forum on this site. FireMacha.com is not about censorship because it doesn't have to be. We have the truth on our side, and we're just trying to make a difference in people's lives, while at the same time calling Macha a testicle-tickling loser.