Oakland A's Bob Geren: The Worst Man for the Job?
I received the news as most others seem to receive news these days—via an online social network. According to the A's Facebook fan page status update, what Oakland loyalists had suspected and dreaded was official, delivered with all the cheeriness of Pravda reporting that the Politburo had again thrown its support to Dear Leader Stalin:
"Here's something new: @OaklandAs Happy off-season fans...This just in: all our coaches will be returning to the same roles for the 2010 season!"
The response from A's fans over the virtual transom of Facebook was just as rapid, if not necessarily optimistic.
"Damn. Give us good news!"
"geren is horrible!"
"What? that's the worst news I've heard all week."
"Is that good news?"
"that's the worst 'good' news i've ever heard!"
You get the picture. In case you don't, at the time of this writing, 40 people have commented on this development, but only six people have "liked" it. Probably not the fan response the A's front office was looking for.
Of course, this move was merely a fait accompli after the A's extended Geren's contract last March through 2010, with a club option for 2011. Aside from some fan gripes about in-game management, Geren had done nothing since renewing his contract to justify the A's breaking that contract.
Sure, the A's were slow out of the gate and performing well below expectations after acquiring Matt Holliday from the Colorado Rockies. But that move always seemed to be a roll of the dice by the mad scientist Billy Beane, made with the expectation that—in the likely event it would indeed fail—it could be easily reversed (which is exactly what Beane did when he flipped Holliday to St. Louis for prospects).
It wasn't Geren's fault the A's acquired a player who—for whatever reasons—couldn't hit the ball in the American League, just as it wasn't Tony LaRussa's fault that said hitter was blinded by the white towels of Dodger Stadium in the National League, and couldn't field a game-ending line-out during the NLDS.
(Speaking of LaRussa, there has some been chatter among the A's lunatic fringe that the club should bring him back to close out the career where he first enjoyed championship glory. The idea is so outside the realm of any plausible reality that this column will not discuss it any depth, other than to reluctantly acknowledge its presence, like that of conspiracy theories or alien abduction stories.)
After the A's went 17-10 in September, their first winning month in over a year, Geren all but sealed a return appearance in 2010.
Then there's the matter of Beane and Geren having a relationship that blurs the line between the professional and personal more than any this side of David Letterman. Beane and Geren have a friendship that goes back to high school, and Geren's role as the best man in Beane's second wedding is well-documented. Dismissing Geren would certainly make Christmas card season somewhat awkward.
However, even more awkward would be if Beane continues to retain Geren at the expense of fans enduring continued losing seasons from the A's. The outcry will be louder than just some comments on Facebook.
Then again, maybe it's just a tough time to be a coach in the East Bay area of northern California right now.
Jeff Tedford, head coach of the Golden Bears that call Berkeley home—and one of the most successful in California's long and mostly undistinguished history—has had to listen to his own share of fan griping after two consecutive embarrassing losses. It makes you wonder if Cal should just change its fight song to Janet Jackson's "What Have You Done For Me Lately?"
And let's not forget the alleged felon who coaches the Oakland Raiders, the moribund football team that also calls the Coliseum home. In the last decade, the team has shown a commitment only to jumpsuits, local television blackouts, and maintaining a stranglehold (not to be confused with a punch, or throwing someone into furniture) on the AFC West cellar.
So, Bob, you may not have earned your fan base's love and complete support yet, but look on the bright side: At least you don't have to worry about stomping wine grapes in a Napa correctional facility anytime soon.
Just remember, if there are many more 80-something-loss seasons in the future, your act may grow as tired with your best friend as it appears to have with the fans.
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