As the Good Ship Milwaukee Brewers continues to drift aimlessly in this wasted season, it's clear that it's time to end our weekly pulse-check on the job security of skipper Ken Macha. The All Star Break presented the ideal opportunity to make a change at the helm, especially given the Crew's recent comatose performance against the Giants. Instead, last Tuesday, we got yet another vote of confidence from Brewers' GM Doug Melvin:
"I'm not a big believer in interim managers," said Melvin, reached at his office at Miller Park. "If things get to the point where you see no fight in the players, that's different."
That sealed it for MACHAWATCH! The guy isn't getting fired, not during the season. At this point, I'm not sure what Ken Macha would need to do to get fired.
That said, we've never let a little thing like irrelevance stop MACHAWATCH! before. So we'll soldier on, assessing the job security of a person who's not going to get fired.
The nullacct ManagerometerTM hasn't budged in the last two weeks. In case you had to ask: no, we weren't much impressed with the sweep of the Pirates before the All Star Break, and, while the split with the Braves was a puddle of water in the desert, the last two games against Pittsburgh have canceled that out, and then some.
After the jump: Doug Melvin's created an interim monster; sympathy for K-Mach; and a completely off-topic note on umpiring. Sadly, though, there's no @notkenmacha this week. He said he had something to take care of and left in a huff. He mentioned something about Tony Curtis "not knowing a good piece of peanut brittle from his ass." I'm not exactly sure what he meant by that, but whatever: we roll on.
This Week's Vote of Confidence / Kiss of Death: Doug Melvin's comments last Tuesday served as a two-birds-one-stone twin killing, qualifying as both a vote of confidence and a kiss of death. The only fair reading of those remarks is that Ken Macha is keeping his job because Doug Melvin doesn't want to have an interim manager hold down the fort for the last two months of the season.
That's it. That's all.
Now, here's the ironic part: as I understand it, Melvin's concern with canning the skipper and naming an interim manager is that the players are prone to dick around for the remainder of the season when they know they've got a substitute teacher running the classroom. But, by saying (in so many words) that Macha won't be fired because Melvin doesn't want to name an interim manager, Doug's just created the very problem he was trying to avoid: now the players know that Macha's not coming back next year, giving them all the more reason to tune him out. Derp.
And, by the by, Doug, there's an easy workaround for that whole "the players don't respect an interim manager" thing: tell them that this is Willie Randolph's (or Dale Sveum's) audition for next year. Tell them that it's entirely possible that Willie or Dale will remain at the helm next season. After that, if some of the players still half-ass the rest of the year ... well, maybe they shouldn't have a spot on the team going forward. Maybe?
This Week in a Hallmark Sympathy Card: Heard you were involved in a beanball war. I think those are really dumb, too. My deepest sympathies in this difficult time. I remain, as always, your bestest friend, G. Rubicon Quebotsky, Esq.
We can be pretty hard on Ken Macha here at MACHAWATCH!, so it's only fair to note that the skipper found himself in a no-win situation this past weekend in Atlanta. With Bobby Cox seemingly ordering his pitchers to throw at any Brewer who didn't immediately drop his bat and sprint around the bases, Macha was placed in an untenable position: protect his players and retaliate, or end the nonsense by refusing to acknowledge Cox's hissy-fit. Macha wasn't happy with those two choices, and it's hard to fault him:
"You've got to get rid of this type of stuff. ... Take a look at the film and hit the guy hard and then that stops, and I don't have to worry about guys yelling at me because I'm protecting my players or not protecting my players. I want to protect my players. If we have a fight, I'm going to be right in the middle of it. That's all there is to it."
I'm decidedly in Macha's corner on this issue. There are few things in sports dumber than a beanball war.* Stuff like that -- and by "that" I mean: ordering someone to fire a projectile at the upper body of an opposing player in response to some barely-definable slight to the Integrity of the Game, and the other side responding in kind -- is how athletes get the reputation for being dumb. Stuff like that is championed by brain-dead dipwads like Tony LaRussa and Ned Yost. Good for the skip for saying "POPPYCOCK!" on the whole stinkin' thing.
* Said things include Brett Favre, the designated hitter, Joe Morgan, and the fact that FIFA refuses to use replay on goals (or disallowed goals) in the World Cup.
This Week in Menace to Society: Because we're without @notkenmacha this week, I can't bring you the tangential (at best) musings that typically occupy this space. Thus, I present this one-time, off-topic rumination on one of my favorite bugaboos: umpiring.
Phil Cuzzi is an absolute menace. Phil Cuzzi must be stopped.
In case you don't know what I'm talking about: during Sunday's Giants - Mets matinee, the Mets took a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning. Francisco Rodriguez came on to pitch, and things got a bit nutty when Cuzzi -- who you might remember from such blown calls as The Joe Mauer Foul Ball That Wasn't a Foul Ball in the 2009 ALDS -- called a couple of very close pitches balls. K-Rod wasn't pleased with the calls and motioned towards the plate, and then Cuzzi lost his ****, gesticulating and screaming at Rodriguez, the Mets bench, catcher Henry Blanco, and hot dog vendor.
Then, to make matters worse, Cuzzi whiffed on a play at the plate in the bottom of the ninth: with the score tied and a runner on third, Freddy Sanchez hit a high chopper to David Wright. Wright threw home, high and late, and Travis Ishigawa slid home with the winning run ... except Phil Cuzzi called him out, shocking everyone in the stadium, including Blanco, who said, after the game: "He was safe all the way."