Monday, June 20, 2011

Melvin's Pride in Oakland Legacy Aids Team's Turnaround

Ever since Bob Melvin took over as A's manager, he has consistently shown one thing that has been lacking in the A's organization since 2005: Pride. He especially has shown pride in the A's history and its rich Oakland legacy.

And his style of embracing the A's 43-plus years of 'Oakland-ness' has helped turn the team around, yielding six straight wins before Wednesday night's close loss. Despite the setback, Melvin has done the unthinkable in just two weeks: He brought the A's back to respectability.

Most importantly, Melvin's style is what A's fans have been waiting for and what Lew Wolff and Billy Beane have been trying to avoid for years. Melvin's success speaks to the owners' lie that they can't succeed in Oakland. For, Melvin has almost instantly succeeded by doing what the owners have stubbornly refused to do: embrace Oakland.

Melvin immediately took the No. 6 for his jersey. It was Captain Sal Bando's number, he explained -- a reference to the A's third baseman and team captain of Oakland's World Series dynasty of the early 1970s.

Almost immediately, Melvin has embraced the Oakland Coliseum, boasting to the media that he not only remembered the A's dynasty of the '70s and the great La Russa/Alderson teams of the late '80s, but he also attended the legendary Day on the Green concerts held each summer at the Coliseum back in the day. Melvin said he went to the 1976 concert with the legendary co-headliners, The Who and The Grateful Dead. More importantly, he's welcoming former A's legends with open arms, like when he enthusiastically welcomed Oakland baseball legend Rickey Henderson during the Bay Bridge Series to help teach the young A's about baserunning.

All of this may sound trivial, but it's not. Melvin is showing pride in three things that Wolff, Fisher and Beane have refused to: 1) Oakland baseball history, 2) memories of the Coliseum's heyday, 3) legendary former A's players.

While Wolff and Beane were throwing a pity party -- to quote columnist Ann Killion -- the A's went 28-40 and were considered a "rotting franchise" by many. With Melvin's positive approach, in contrast, he instantly turned the team around -- on the field, in the win column and with the attitude in the clubhouse. We'll take Melvin's way over Wolff's and Beane's way, anytime.

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