Off to see the A’s vs. Italy

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I’m going to Phoenix Municipal Stadium today to see the Oakland A’s play a game against team Italy from the WBC. It’s a warmup game for everyone, obviously. I just don’t know for which team it is a greater formality.

The big names on team Italy: Anthony Rizzo. Chris Denorfia. Nick Punto, who I’ve already seen play three friggin’ times in the past six days. Jason Grilli. Drew Butera and Tyler De La Torre are the team’s catchers, but Mike Piazza is a coach and even at this point might still be a better option. Pat Venditte will be there. That’s the guy who can pitch with either arm. I sorta want to see his two-thumb glove.

I’m about as hazy about WBC things as anyone you’ll meet, but my understanding is that once a team loses two games in the first round they’re done. Italy plays Mexico in its first real WBC game and should likely get beat. Then Canada. If they somehow make it through that they probably have the United States to deal with. What I’m saying is, today’s exhibition against the A’s is one of the final few games this squad is going to play together.

But it should be fun anyway. Maybe the uniforms will be nice. And heck, with my last name perhaps I can convince someone to let me play a little.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.