The White Sox lose coach Kevin Hickey

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Kevin Hickey, who has served as a “pregame instructor” — basically a non-titled coach, right? — for the Chicago White Sox for several years died yesterday. From CSNChicago.com:

Kevin Hickey, who pitched on the South Side from 1981-83 and served as a pregame instructor since 2004, died Wednesday at Rush Memorial Center. He was 56.

Hickey was unresponsive in the intensive care unit at Rush University Medical Center after being moved to Chicago from Dallas in early April. He was taken to Parkland Hospital in Dallas on April 5 after missing the White Sox workout prior to Opening Day.

His death unleashed an outpouring of emotion from all kinds of people who have or had associations with the White Sox, from ownership to Ozzie Guillen to any number of players who worked with him.

Before coaching, Hickey spent some time pitching for the Sox in the early 80s. His career path was an unusual one. He never played high school ball and was discovered by the White Sox after showing up for a tryout one day. His experience before that was playing softball.

Even if you’ve never heard of him — and I can’t say that I did before I heard of his death — he clearly had a big impact on those who did know him. There are a lot of people like that.

Rays lose, clinching postseason berth for Athletics

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The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.

Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).

Yay?

John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.

What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.

The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?