Monday, June 11, 2012

Ka'aihue Deserved Better from Beane

When Billy Beane DFA'd Kila Ka'aihue last week as his wife is days away from giving birth to twins, it sent a clear message from the A's organization that was heard all throughout baseball:

"A's front office officials are heartless, gutless jerks."

At least that's what a number of A's players, speaking anonymously, and national sportswriters were saying. Check out this report from the S.F. Chronicle:

His wife, Blair, is due to deliver twins any day, and that, combined with the brief window Ka'aihue had the everyday job, left some of the Oakland players shaking their heads.
"Everyone is in shock," one player said.
"Total horse" manure, said another.

Wow, those are harsh quotes from A's players who are ripping Billy Beane's decision. The national sportswriters were equally brutal. Here's a critical take from baseball reporter David Brown with Yahoo! Sports:

With Ka'aihue's wife on the verge of giving birth, and with Moss' bring-me-up-or-else deadline more than a week away, they could have waited. They should have waited. These aren't merely pieces on a chess board. They are people. And there's very flimsy evidence to support having to make a move right now. The A's are treating their roster like a fantasy baseball player might, and they are short-sighted to do so. It's horse manure, as the one player said. went even further, calling Beane's and Wolff's franchise "hopeless and heartless." They added this about the A's clubhouse:

This should be a safe space for young men to learn, and grow as humans, and form a band of brothers. Instead, the clubhouse is righteously pissed because Kila Ka'aihue was designated for assignment.

For years, Beane and Wolff have blamed their home city and stadium for chasing away free agents. The colder reality is that Beane's heartless un-player-friendly style is as much to blame for that than anything.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Wolff Interview: More of the Same

Yesterday Lew Wolff was on 95.7-The Game and let us give you the breaking news that came out of it: NOTHING. That's right, nothing. Nothing at all. Sometimes we wonder why we even brother tuning in for such things. It's borderline masochism. It's not like Lew's going to come out and say that he loves everything about Oakland, such as the fans, Lake Merritt and even the hipsters in Temescal. No, never. I would have been better off just going for a jog after work, but there I was running into my house to turn on the radio like it was FDR delivering a WWII speech. Instead, all we got from Wolff's chat with Chris Townsend and Brandon Tierney was the same ol' same ol'. He used the old line about the infamous binder taking an hour and 45 minutes to go through. A few stale jokes about his age. And, of course, some whining. It was good ol' Grandpa Lew, who just wants some free stadiums and, darn it, no one is letting him. Boo-hoo. 

That alone is not blogworthy. However, if you tune into the podcast (here) and wait until about the 3:30 mark, Wolff starts talking about the budget and keeping team payroll within the budget. After listening to Wolff's comments, it’s pretty clear that he values short-term profit over winning. But that's not news. What really grinds our gears was this quote (paraphrasing): "If we win a World Series but lose $40 million, I don’t want to do that because it would feel like we just bought it." Say what? Seriously? Why are you in the baseball business, Lew? The pinnacle of success in baseball is a World Series victory and nothing else. Also, what happened to the notion of "spending money to make money" or "short-term losses for long-term gains?" Those sayings have been in the business lexicon forever, even before Sharper Image starting selling those motivational posters. Brandon Tierney asked Wolff the following: If the team spent money and put a winning team on the field, wouldn't the fans respond with increased ticket sales? Wolff simply responded with more silliness. First of all, he got the playoff year wrong (2005 vs. 2006), but then he went on to say that the year after the last playoff run, season ticket sales were down. Let's zoom back five or six years. In the offseason before the 2006 season, Wolff tarped off the 3rd deck and then announced the ill-fated and divisive Fremont move. The fan base was simply rejecting the direction that Wolff was taking the franchise. Couple those things with ticket price increases and customer-service reductions, and it doesn't take a Wall Street analyst to know all of that is going to lead to reduced sales.  

There is more from the interview. Listen to it if you want. One more takeaway from it is that Wolff stubbornly feels that the move to San Jose will happen, despite the fact that many of his supporters have expressed their doubts. Let us ask you this, A's fans: how long do you think that Lew Wolff will actually be fighting for you? Was he ever fighting for you? Losing games for profit is not what baseball is supposed to be about. Ken Burns didn't make a documentary about how awesome billionaires are. Kevin Costner did not star in a movie about rich people coming out of cornfields whining about how much money could be made. That's not baseball. If I cared that much about rich people making money I would be watching streaming footage of Goldman Sachs executives. No, thank you.