Athletics

Melvin's longevity with A's a remarkable feat in Billy Beane Era

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AP

Melvin's longevity with A's a remarkable feat in Billy Beane Era

Bob Melvin’s contract extension through 2019 with Oakland wasn’t nearly so much a surprise as the fact that he’s been the Athletics' manager as long as he has.
 
The A’s, after all, have been known for their roster volatility for years, a strategy that has hit as often as it has failed but has almost always been more frustrating than enervating.
 
But managers? Remarkably stable, even in the Billy Beane era, which will be precisely 20 years long in 19 days. Do send a card.

[RELATED: Beane explains Melvin's extension: 'We couldn’t have a better man' as manager]
 
The A’s have had but four managers – Art Howe, who was worked over in Beane’s most volatile period; Ken Macha, whose own volatility got him fired and rehired in the same managerial cycle; Bob Geren, Beane's close personal friend whose time matched a particularly stultifying period in franchise history; and Melvin, whose first three full seasons look very little like his last three.
 
But the A’s are acknowledging here that the team’s latest cratering is really roster-based, and that Melvin is better suited to resuscitate this franchise as it leans into its new stadium phase than anyone else either in or outside the organization.
 
Indeed, he is 64 games away from passing Howe for third in games managed with this team, and is three years away from passing Tony La Russa for second. Barring continued stagnation, political intrigues or some other catastrophe, he is likely to do so.
 
But he is under the same make-this-good-when-the-ballpark-opens pressure that general manager David Forst and even Beane himself are under. The A’s are playing not only for their place in the American League and the hearts of a city who is losing its two other teams, but for the success of a billion-dollar real estate venture.
 
Now guess which of those matters most owner John Fisher. 

Young A’s fan writes letter to team after fires take home, beloved memorabilia

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Twitter @KatieUtehs

Young A’s fan writes letter to team after fires take home, beloved memorabilia

Young Athletics fan Loren Jade Smith is among the thousands of people affected by the Northern California wildfires. Along with his family's home, the fire storm took his most valued possession -- his A's memorabilia collection. 

In his disappointment, Smith wrote a letter to the A's that has since gone viral. 

After the letter was shared throughout the Twitterverse, A's President Dave Kaval said the team would reach out to Jade and his family to replace his memorabilia. 

And since Kaval's announcement, the A's community of fans has responded with offers to send the young fan some memorabilia. The A's have even set up an address where fans can send Smith their gifts. 

Who can we blame for epidemic of teams losing three straight elimination games?

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AP

Who can we blame for epidemic of teams losing three straight elimination games?

Fox’ Matt Vasgersian, who does his job well,  declared the New York Yankees’ American League Division Series win over Cleveland to be amazing.

It is not. Not any more.

In fact, the Yankees winning three elimination games in succession is a feat that has happened seven times in the past three years. And we can only conclude from that that they’re not making teams that can avoid the bad beat the way they used to.

The 2017 Indians joined the 2016 Indians, Warriors and Thunder, the 2015 Clippers, Capitals and Texas Rangers, the 2014 Penguins and Sharks, the 2013 Red Wings, the 2012 Reds and Cardinals, the 2011 Penguins, the 2010 Bruins and Capitals as proud laryngectomy victims – teams that needed to win only one of three (or in the Sharks’ case, four) games to advance in the playoffs (or in the Warriors’ case, win).

That’s 15 times this “amazing” thing has happened, which means that by any estimate, teams that needed to win three consecutive games to escape the icy hand of Uncle Death are now pretty much the norm in this decade.

And why, you ask? I blame Twitter. I blame global warming. I blame video games. I blame smartphones. I blame phones. I blame the new president. I blame the old president. I blame Satan. I blame participation trophies and orange slices and juice boxes. I blame the players and I blame the owners and I blame the fans and definitely those smarmy bastards in the media. They’re the worst.

I blame you. Hell, I think I blame Matt Vasgersian.

But whomever is at fault, we have here an epidemic of feet strangling their owners when everything seems their cheeriest. And unless we live in such misery-enriched times that good times are only precursors to far worse ones, there is no sensible explanation. Players’ windpipes are no smaller than they were a decade ago. The Internet is older than seven years. Close-out games are not materially more difficult than they were before 2010.

And yet winning that one extra game is suddenly like finding out your SAT test has been written totally in anagrams. In other words, when things look brightest, that’s when you know you’re totally screwed.

And if you don’t believe me, ask Terry Francona. In a few weeks maybe. Not right away. Not unless you’re keen to see how it feels to have your neck used as a bathmat.