Athletics

Bob Melvin Q&A: A's manager discusses dream car, advice to players

Bob Melvin Q&A: A's manager discusses dream car, advice to players

Bob Melvin has come a long way since his first day managing the Oakland A’s.

When he took over mid-season of 2011, the team was in Chicago. For those first few games, Melvin admits he needed peeks at names on the backs of jerseys just to learn who everyone was.

Since then he earned AL Manager of the year in 2012, and 2018, and probably should have been a frontrunner last season coming off another 97-win campaign. 

The Palo Alto native is MLB’s longest-tenured skipper, and has taken Oakland to the playoffs in five of his eight full seasons at the helm. All of this while routinely sporting one of the consistently lowest payrolls in baseball.

It’s distinctly possible the 2020 A’s could be Melvin’s most talented group yet. We chatted about much lighter topics last month at team headquarters.

The teammate who you think gives the best interviews on your team?
"If you want straight answers, Marcus Semien. If you want something a little offbeat, maybe Mark Canha. Both Cal guys."

The teammate who you think hates interviews the most?
"Depending on the mood, Matt Chapman."

A through F: grade your emoji usage?
"Currently, I give myself a B-. With the guys these days, Ichiro [Suzuki], he can send you a text message and it’s all emojis. He’s the best I’ve ever seen. All emojis, and for a guy that’s a little longer in the tooth, you’d think it would be not his thing.  It’s all his game."

The most important aspect you’ve observed for a good walkup song?
"Probably going to date myself here a little bit. Some of the younger guys, I just don’t know the music. One of the aspects you need to have is something that a lot of the fanbase is going to know."

Something you think a player needs to get done in the on-deck circle?
"Timing."

The best thing you could tell a player after they made an error?
“The pitcher is going to pick you up right here.”

Number one piece of tech in your backpack for road trips?
"No backpack. A bag. I have a computer and iPad, and my phone is somewhere around as well."

Team potluck dinner, what does Bob Melvin bring?
"Salmon and sorrel."

Are audiobooks reading?
"No, I can’t stay with an audiobook. I have to read."

Amount of players that come in your office each day?
"Probably around 6, and then others are summoned in there."

Tougher sport to play, if you had to try it tonight: Football or ice hockey?
"I’ll say hockey, I know nothing about it. All I know is that if the puck crosses the line, it’s a point."

You get an all-expense-paid trip, where do you choose: Napa, Tahoe, Monterey?
"Can’t go wrong with either one of those. I’ve been to Napa enough, I’d probably say Monterey."

The first animal you’d go see at the zoo?
"Lions. Is this some sort of psychological profile that we’re doing on that one? That’s why I went with the lion. I’d actually go something a little different, a giraffe."

[RELATED: Manaea answers questions about favorite food, exit velocity]

Favorite account or brand that you’d follow, if you were on social media?
"Restaurants."

We’ll put a dream car in your driveway tonight: what do you go with?
"Maybe like a 1965 Mustang or Corvette or something like that. I actually have a ’66 Buick Electra. Biggest car you’ve ever seen in your life."

Kelly Green jerseys in one word?
"'Players favorite”, two words. I’m traditional, I’m a white and grey guy, but I do like the Kelly Green."

Relive three iconic A's victories, performances against rival Astros

Relive three iconic A's victories, performances against rival Astros

Programming note: NBC Sports California will air three classic A’s-Astros games beginning Saturday at 3 p.m. PT.

Since joining the AL West after switching leagues in 2013, the Houston Astros quickly have morphed into one of the A’s most hated rivals.

Those seven seasons have produced plenty of classic matchups, as the clubs finished the season as the division’s top two teams in four of the seven years.

However, the coronavirus outbreak forcing an indefinite suspension upon MLB has robbed teams of getting a chance at revenge on Houston, after the organization was implicated in a nefarious sign-stealing scheme this offseason.

Nevertheless, there's still a way to get your fix, as fans can tune in to NBC Sports California on Saturday afternoon to relive three memorable A’s victories over the Astros.

Lowrie caps comeback -- Sept. 8, 2017

The A’s had their backs against the wall entering the bottom of the seventh inning, trailing Houston 7-3 on a cloudy fall evening in Oakland.

Then Marcus Semien walked to the plate. It took just one swing for the game to be tied at seven as the Bay Area native connected on his third career grand slam. After former A’s outfielder Josh Reddick gave Houston back the lead in the top half, the A’s brought out the power once again. 

Boog Powell led off the bottom half by tying the game with a solo home run, then a few batters later Jed Lowrie brought Semien home to deliver a walk-off win.

The A’s clearly fed off the momentum of that victory, as Oakland went on to sweep the four-game set.

Olson beats Astros -- Aug. 17, 2018

Neck-and-neck in the divisional race, these two adversaries faced off once again at the Oakland Coliseum just under a year later. 

In his 29th career MLB appearance, outfielder Nick Martini was the night’s first hero, tying the game in the bottom of the ninth with an RBI double to bring home Ramon Laureano, who initially was called out before a replay review reversed the ruling.

Slugger Matt Olson came up in the 10th, and lifted a towering shot just over the right-field fence, bringing the A’s to within one game of the AL West lead.

[RELATED: Why Olson's walk-off homer vs. Brewers was so impressive]

A’s offense explodes -- Sept. 10, 2019

A day after the A’s were hammered 15-0 at Minute Maid Park, the A’s returned the favor in a big way with a 21-7 win.

Astros starter Wade Miley lasted just a third of an inning before being relieved, having allowed six runs, all of which came on RBI singles.

Oakland ended up with six total home runs, including two apiece from Olson and young catcher Sean Murphy. It also was the first time in the expansive history of the A’s that the team scored 20 or more runs, had 25 or more hits, and hit at least six home runs in the same contest.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy what likely would have become America’s new greatest pastime this summer: Watching your team beat the Astros.

Chad Pinder, A's players will feel 'residual effects' when MLB returns

Chad Pinder, A's players will feel 'residual effects' when MLB returns

A’s utility man Chad Pinder is home in Charlotte, North Carolina getting plenty of things done. Watching Netflix, painting nursery furniture, and getting in decent workouts in his garage.

Productive, but not reassuring.

“This is kind of unprecedented in our lifetime, basically to have the nation on hold right now,” Pinder told NBC  Sports Bay Area this week. “It is a very scary time, especially in some the areas that are affected bad right now.”

It was only a few weeks ago Pinder and his Oakland teammates were in Mesa, Arizona getting ready for a highly anticipated 2020 MLB season. 

They, like most of the country, didn’t fully interpret the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic at first.

“I don’t know if we initially realized what was going on,” Pinder said. “Thought maybe this would be a two-week break, month maximum. The more information you get, the more you see going around, you realize this is a long-term thing.”

Pinder, a highly-regarded clubhouse leader, now keeps in touch with teammates mostly through text messages.

“We have a group thread, everybody’s talking,” Pinder said.

Their main conversations are about MLB developments, and to keep each other in the loop of when baseball could resume. Players don’t have any more assurances or insights than the average fan does these days. But there are some certainties. 

“Even when we resume stuff, there will be residual effects of what’s been going on,” Pinder said.

[RELATED: Stewart better after coronavirus scare]

That aforementioned nursery project is indeed preparation for Chad and his wife Taylor’s first child, due in the late summer months. He is certainly seeing different perspectives of events right now, as they relate to the future.

“The way we handle this, the way we come out of this,” Pinder said. “We’ll look back on the rest of our lives and remember this time.”