Manager Billy

Books, Games, Management, Media, Players

In a destructive fashion that almost appears intentional, Billy Beane has taken steps to dismantle the aura of genius created by Moneyball as if the yoke around his neck was far too much for him to bear. In the years since the Michael Lewis farce was published, Beane has eschewed a vast number of the tenets upon which the foundation of his supposed infallibility was concocted.  Hindered by the fleeting nature of perfection, Beane’s work hasn’t only been slipshod for the most part, but it’s been poor; in addition to that, his treatment of players and employees—specifically his managers—has been at best inconsistent and arbitrary.

How is it possible that Bob Geren is still managing the Athletics?

Of course you can make the argument that Geren hasn’t been at fault for the team’s mediocre showings since he took over; but given the way Beane callously dismissed the managerial contributions of Art Howe and Ken Macha, one cannot escape the contention that the only reason that Geren is still there is because of his personal friendship with Beane.

After the Brian Fuentes dustup several weeks ago—that was the fault of the manager—what other explanation is there?

You can read about the issues with Geren and the club in detail here in a piece by Ann Killion for Sports Illustrated.

Because Beane’s entire being was crafted by Moneyball, his only recourse is to live up to the fantasy by doing what it was that he was said to have been doing, or demolish it completely.

With the ridiculous movie soon to be released, Beane’s story is nearly at its logical conclusion and it ain’t gonna be Rocky. My friend Jane Heller was right when she told me that the movie would get made and it would bear little resemblance to that which was intended when the entire concept of a movie adaptation from that book was hatched.

When a manager isn’t given credit, nor should he be given blame. So who else is there apart from the “all-seeing/all-knowing” general manager?

Eventually it gets to the point—even for his remaining idol-worshippers for whom he can do no wrong—that there’s nowhere else to look but Beane.

As the team is stumbling badly and complaining about the way in which they’re handled, how is it glossed over so ignorantly? Fuentes isn’t a good closer, but he was right in his complaints about a “lack of communication”—conveniently the very reason (arbitrary as it was) for the firing of Macha.

All Macha did was win; all Geren has done is lose; but Macha wasn’t Beane’s buddy, so the clear implication is that Geren is either there because Beane is objectively looking at the circumstances under which the manager is working and saying, “it’s not his fault” or he’s keeping him for a subjective reason such as friendship—a reason that contradicts that which the Beane legend was based as a ruthless corporate titan or cold Michael Corleone clone who did whatever was necessary to win and maintain control.

But Macha was fired for no reason other than Beane’s whims; Howe was pushed out the door in part so he could make an amount of money with the Mets that he never would’ve made with the A’s (I honestly believe Beane was doing Howe a favor financially), and because Beane wanted to make a managerial change.

So what now?

It won’t happen, but here’s what I’d like to see: Manager Billy Beane.

Rather than “manage the team from the weight room” as was alleged in Moneyball, let Beane get back into uniform and put the onus of the entire organization on his desk. There’d no longer be anyone else to hold accountable; no one to toss overboard but Beane himself. But as much as every GM claims to be the one who is responsible for what goes on throughout an organization, that’s the last thing 99.9% of them would be willing to do.

It’d be a predictable train wreck, but a fitting end to the myth of Lewis and Moneyball.

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