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A's Finally Get It Right On The "Urgency" Continuum

First of all, let it be acknowledged that most fans, most managers, and most owners are too impatient, reacting too much in the now and with too little perspective on the bigger picture. We are, after all, Americans, and we want what we want and we want it now, and if it messes us up for the future, well--it's not the future right now, is it? Let's take a moment to appreciate that Ken Macha is not Dusty Baker and that Lew Wolff is not George Steinbrenner. It is a good thing to have people in charge who remember that the season doesn't usually hinge on today's game, that tomorrow will be today soon enough, and that you can't ask athletes to pump at "7th game of the World Series" adrenaline 180 days in a row.

That being said, I believe the A's have generally been guilty of the lesser, but also harmful, tendency to be too patient, too inclined to ask, rhetorically, "In the big picture, does today's game really that matter that much?", too confident that things will turn around eventually so it doesn't have to be today. Perhaps this is why the A's often start slow in a given season, and often start slow in a given game. Have you noticed that? "We'll get `em in the second half" is good friends with "We'll get `em the second time through the order," as they were introduced at a party by "He'll reach his career norms by the end of the season." No sense of urgency, just great confidence that everything will surely come together before time runs out.

Then there was Wednesday's game against the Angels. I thought Ken Macha managed it brilliantly. He was far from impatient or reactive with his starter, but in the 6th inning, by the time Loaiza had runners at 1st and 3rd with one out, Halsey and Calero were already up, warm, and ready to go. Wanting to put his best foot forward, Macha turned to his best lefty (Halsey) for a key at-bat against Adam Kennedy, then went, in the 6th inning of a tie game, to the pitcher (Calero) more often seen in the 8th inning of a game the A's are leading. He then entrusted the ball to his closer (Street) against the heart of the order in the 8th, and sat back while Street attempted a rare 2-inning save.

Macha surely did this for a couple of reasons. He knew that the game had twice the significance of an average game, both mathematically and symbolically. He also knew the A's had an off-day the next day. Now mind you, Macha managed with a sense of urgency and determination, but he did not manage with any irresponsibility or desperation. He did not ask Calero to pitch for a 4th day in a row, nor did he ask Street to pitch 3.2 innings. He just managed like it was a big game followed by an off-day.

Please manage like that all the time. Not like it's Game 7 of the World Series, nor even like it's Game 2 of the ALDS. Just like it's "a big game followed by an off-day". Because that appears to be when the A's play, and the manager manages, with just the right level of urgency--the level that a team, and a manager, should bring to the ballpark as many times as possible out of 162 games.