Lew Wolff

Firing Bob Geren is not gonna solve the A’s problems

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If you believe what we’ve been hearing about the Atheltics’ clubhouse issues — and I tend to believe it — Bob Geren had to go. He had lost his team, assuming he ever had ’em, and it was time for a change.

The second pass at all of that — that it wasn’t Bob Geren who kept the A’s from hitting and kept the pitchers from being healthy — is also true.  The A’s have a bunch of problems. Firing Geren may have been necessary because no one wants to go to work in an office where everyone hates the boss, but it’s not going to dramatically change the factors that are keeping the A’s from winning these days.

But there’s a third layer to the Atheltics’ issues, and that’s fan apathy and the overall health of the franchise, and today Glenn Dickey of the San Francisco Examiner fires both barrels at the man responsible: A’s owner Lew Wolff:

Wolff and John Fisher, his money man, have taken the A’s from a perennially contending team which drew more than 2 million people a year and turned it into an also-ran which is near the bottom in attendance each year. Not easy, but Wolff has been determined to run down the franchise so he can argue that he should be allowed to move to San Jose … This is the way Wolff wants it. He’s done everything he can to force attendance down, closing off almost all the upper deck, ending the popular Fan Fest, sending out media emails prior to seasons saying he has no interest in Oakland. Though he and Fisher are, according to Forbes magazine, the fourth-richest owners in baseball, they’ve spent no money on comforts for fans, content to collect revenue-sharing money from other clubs each year.

The South has tornadoes, the East Coast has hurricanes, Oakland has Lew Wolff.

The A’s could be losing no matter who sat in the owners’ chair. But they didn’t have to be a depressing slog for the fans who have been given absolutely no reason to care about the future of the team.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this:

Tony Clark responds to Rob Manfred’s claim that union had a “lack of cooperation”

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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Earlier, Craig covered Rob Manfred’s comments in which he accused the Major League Baseball Players’ Association of “a lack of cooperation” concerning some proposed rule changes. The union would need to agree to any such changes, which have included automatic intentional walks, limiting mound visits, pitch clocks, and swapping batting practice times for home and visiting teams.

Manfred went on to say that MLB will impose those rule changes unilaterally next year as allowed in the latest collective bargaining agreement.

Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLBPA, responded to Manfred’s comment. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

“Unless your definition of ‘cooperation’ is blanket approval, I don’t agree that we’ve failed to cooperate with the Commissioner’s office on these issues.”

“Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this off season we’ve been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened.”

“I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don’t continue, notwithstanding today’s comments about implementation. As I’ve said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open.”

“My understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2min limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of Game warning/fine adjustments.”

Clark’s response isn’t anything too shocking. Manfred’s accusation was pretty baseless, but it’s behavior to be expected of a commissioner who comes down on the side of the owners over the players almost always.