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

14 Comments

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.

Sandy Koufax to be honored with statue at Dodger Stadium

Tim Bradbury/Getty Images
1 Comment

Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.

Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.

Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.

Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign  on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.