Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
2003-10-08 18:54
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

"I'll tell you one thing, if you want to give me $50 million more, I'll promise you we won't blow the 2-0 lead."

Billy Beane

Now that the dust is starting to settle over yet another unfortunate playoff performance by the Oakland A's, general manager Billy Beane is taking some heat. Sports Illustrated's chief baseball writer, Tom Verducci opines:

There are real reasons why the Athletics don't get it done in October, and they have nothing to do with shooting craps. This team doesn't catch the ball well enough, doesn't exceed at situational hitting and, as one Oakland source put it, "We're the worst baserunning team in the league." There is also the matter of their leadership vacuum.

...Nobody is taking anything away from how Oakland, with a small payroll, has fought its way into the playoffs four years running. It's an amazing achievement. But the Athletics -- and not some cosmic Ouiji board -- must bear responsibility for their poor execution in the postseason, when home runs and walks are harder to come by and runs are more precious. The A's ineptness does have something to do with the kinds of players they acquire and the construction of the team.

...Oakland is in many ways a model organization for getting the most bang for its buck and extending its window for success, a very tough task for a small-revenue team. Its management has been properly commended for thinking outside the traditional baseball establishment. But 0-9 in clinchers is no accident. The Athletics have earned their reputation as a team that plays sloppy baseball when it counts most.

Rob Neyer adds:

If you want to blame anything, blame brains. Blame brains for what happened in Game 3. It was Eric Byrnes' brain that didn't tell him to go back and touch home plate in the sixth, and it was Miguel Tejada's brain that didn't tell him to continue plateward after he'd been interfered with in the same inning. But were these brain problems symptomatic? Well, Byrnes is considered one of the more intense players in the league, and just a year ago Tejada was considered by many the most valuable player in the league.

And yet, an inch here or there and we wouldn't be having this discussion because the A's would have won.

Steve Lombardi, who runs the NetShrine discussion forum, has another explanation: the A's have been cursed ever since Mark McGwire was shipped out of town. (Thanks to Lee Sinins for the link.)

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