The Biggest Loser(s)

How far have the A's fallen?  An O's fan rejoices, sort of:

Wow, Not Sucking rocks, y'know? Seriously! ‘Course, not sucking against the A's recently doesn't exactly have the virtue of exclusivity. But hey, who's counting THEIR losses?

Well, Titov, we're counting them.  After all, the A's are skinny-dipping ever so closely into uncharted waters.  The nine-game losing streak is their sixth-longest skid since moving to Oakland the year after I was born, but it's not the worst in the Bob Geren era.  The 2008 A's lost ten straight from July 28 to August 7, a mark that this current bunch can tie tonight. A sweep in Chicago will put the streak at a dozen games, which would surpass the 1978 A's (11 games, June 8-18) and equal the second-worst mark set in 1994 (April 19-30), and reached again when the A's lost their last nine games in 1995, and dropped their first three contests the following season.

Still a little ways off is the all-time Oakland record for consecutive defeats (14), set in 1977 (July 29-August 1977), and well beyond that is the franchise mark of 20 straight losses, accomplished twice by the Philadelphia Athletics (1916 and 1943).  The 1916 squad set the standard for suck: their .235 winning percentage (36-117) is the worst in the modern era (post-1901).

And we can't leave out the Kansas City A's, no foreigner to poor performance.  During their 13-year stay in the Midwest- in which they failed to record even one winning season- the Athletics had five losing streaks of nine games or more, including a 13-game stretch of futility in 1959.

It should be noted that no A's manager lost their job during or immediately following any of the aforementioned streaks, although Tony La Russa moved to St. Louis at the end of the 1995 season, leaving Art Howe to pick up the tab on that 12-game slide.

Interesting tidbit on the 1977-78 A's: Jack McKeon started the '77 season as the A's manager, but was by fired by Charlie Finley, after compiling a respectable 26-27 record.  Bobby Winkles took over and lasted the remainder of the season, with the A's going 37-71 under his direction, including the 14-game losing streak.  Somehow Winkles' head survived Finley's axe, and he had the upstart A's playing well the following season.  But he soon tired of Finley's constant meddling- gee, imagine that- and quit the team on May 21- with the A's (24-15) in first place.  The man to replace Winkles: McKeon.  A sampling of Finley's need to be in total control:

Bobby Winkles, who managed the A’s in Oakland for Finley in 1977 and 1978, explained how he treated everyone as a lackey. Winkles liked to get up early, during the season or not, and play golf. One day during the season he was playing when his wife took a call from Charlie Finley. She told him that her husband was on the golf course and unavailable. “Well, I want you to pass this on to your husband,” Finley said. “I might be calling him for something important. I might call him for a trade. I might call him for anything, and I want him to be accountable to me, so if he’s going to be away from the house any more than 20 minutes, I want to know the phone number of where he’s gonna be.”

***

As for the current man in charge, this latest skid is not for lack of trying:

"The guys are giving me great effort. Effort has never been a problem and I don't ever anticipate it being a problem."

I'm sure Bob Geren is a fine man, and I'm not about to re-open the can of how much impact he has (or hasn't) on the A's losing ways, but you kids need to understand something. We're simply not used to clipboard holders sticking around these parts for very long.  Only one manager in Oakland A's history has logged more time than Geren: Tony La Russa.

If memory serves, he had some decent years here.

I will be your game-thread host again this afternoon- and I might even show up on time!- at least until someone relieves me so I can make my godson's baseball award ceremonies (hint, hint, wink, wink).

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