Somewhere around the fifth consecutive loss in the Brewers seemingly-never-ending death spiral, we decided that the time was right to launch MACHA WATCH, a weekly look at the job security of skipper Ken Macha. Sadly, after the Crew gagged away another late-inning lead and dropped to a full ten games under .500 last night, it appears that MACHA WATCH is going to be a one-time feature: if Macha's not canned immediately after today's game against the Pirates (they could drop him off in Milwaukee on the way to Minneapolis and let him make some headway on cleaning out his office at Miller Park), it's almost a certainty that Macha will be let go before the next home stand begins.
Now, the fact that I believe that Macha's going to be gassed in the near future should not be confused as an argument that Macha should be fired. That's an argument for a different place. (And if you want to tackle it in the comments, please: be my guest.) It's also not to suggest that firing Ken Macha would serve as a panacea to the Brewers' maladies. In fact, I'm not convinced that a new manager would make a whit of difference in the 2010 season.
Rather, the task here is three-fold: first, and primarily, find an excuse to run awesome nullacct Photoshops, like this one:
Two: give Fatter than Joey the chance to stretch the legs of his @notkenmacha alter ego in a more-than-140-character setting.
And, third, try to read the tea leaves to assess how likely it is that Ken Macha is going to be fired this week. Let's start divining, after the jump.There's an old baseball adage: nothing gets a manager fired more quickly than a shoddy bullpen. With that in mind, let's examine how many games the Brewers lost in the last week that they were leading (or that were tied) when the 'pen was summoned:
Friday, May 14 vs. PHI: Brewers never led, game tied at 3 until the top of the fourth inning, when Randy Wolf surrenders three runs. 'Pen gives up three more (only one earned), but it didn't matter.
Saturday, May 15 vs. PHI: Brewers never led; 'pen surrenders 6 runs in 3.1 innings of work.
Sunday, May 16 vs. PHI: Brewers never led; Todd Coffey cedes a run in the eighth inning to give the Phils a 4-2 lead.
Monday, May 17 @ CIN: Game tied, 1-1, going into the bottom of the seventh. Coffey implodes, giving up 5 runs and putting the game out of reach.
Tuesday, May 18 @ CIN: 4-2 lead in the bottom of the ninth. Hoffman'd.
Wednesday, May 19 @ PIT: Brewers claw back to lead 4-3, going into the bottom of the seventh. Wolf spits the bit and gives away the lead, and Coffey allows an inherited runner to score.
In sum, that's one lead blown by the 'pen, one implosion in a tie game, plus the disaster against the Phillies on Saturday. It wasn't a good week, to put it mildly.
This week's vote of confidence / kiss of death: Perhaps sensing that I need material for MACHA WATCH, the Brewers obliged with a vote of confidence and a kiss of death this week.
Doug Melvin delivered the former just this morning, telling 620 WTMJ:
"I don't see any reason" to fire manager Ken Macha at this point. ... "Everybody wants to fire everybody, but I talk to Mark everyday and Ken everyday. You go about and do your business, and all you've got to do is continue to work hard."
And Prince Fielder had the death smooch earlier this week: Howie Magner noted the Brewer slugger's comments to brewers.com about the possibility of a change at the helm:
"That happens at times if things aren't going right, but that's not something you can dwell on. That's the business side. ... Those aren't even my decisions anyway, so I try to stay out of that."
I haven't seen anyone ask Macha for his thoughts on Fielder's comments, so I did the next best thing: I asked @notkenmacha for his response. As you might expect, things got weird:
Thank you for taking the time to write me. My apologies for not writing back to you sooner, however I have been distracted by our team's performance as of late.
Regarding Prince Fielder, I know it must be disheartening for a dedicated young fan like yourself discovering that a player of the caliber of Fielder, is not doing his best to support one of the pillars of modern baseball like myself. Let me be the first to assure you that things will eventually be OK. In the grand scope of baseball, guys like Prince Fielder are just one of the many thousands of players that have been blessed to play this great game, much like a Lynn Jones or Paul Serna. Rest assured that my legacy will not be tarnished by the grumblings of one insignificant cog in the machine.
The fact of the matter is, I can relate to Prince Fielder well. As every great baseball legend starts out, I was once a green and inexperienced baseball player that probably was a little too big for his britches as well. It may shock you to learn that I once had put myself in the same position that Prince has put himself into, when I got out of line with my manager, the legendary Salty Parker.
The year was 1956, and I was playing ball in the Erie Exploratory League for the Upper Sandusky River Rats in Ohio. In the pre-season we were picked by the Erie Examiner to win the EEL, under the guidance of Salty Parker. I was the team's backup left-handed catcher and a bit full of myself. My roommate was the legendary Ed Ott. One night we decided to sneak out of our hotels after curfew to chase some tail. Ed Ott already had a lady-friend named Ethel. Ed was a decent enough guy, and a great catcher, but in 1954 he decided to play most of the season without a facemask, and his face and mental facilities seemed to suffer because of that decision. Consequently, Ed's lady-friend Ethel was a woman that I would best describe as "stout" or "portly", and not the greatest catch, but Ed seemed happy enough, so who was I to judge?
Ed and I had gotten the hankering for some pie, and we decided that we would see if Ethel and a couple of her friends wanted to get some pie, and then have sex with us afterward. I should also point out that 1956 was also the year that I discovered pie and opium. My mother had always told me that pie was the "Devil's vegetable" and that I should avoid it, of course that only made me want it more.
Ed and I went to pick up Ethel, however we first needed to gas up Ed's Dodge. It was a chilly night, so Ed and I went inside the service station while Ethel dispatched fuel into Ed's cruiser. As luck would have it, I happened to notice that after Ethel started the pump, she went back inside the car to sit down. Static electricity had been invented a couple of years back, and a rash of gas station explosions were claiming hundreds of lives across the Ohio industrial belt. Broads were sitting inside their car while refueling and then discharging static electricity. This would anger God, causing him to send a fireball from heaven killing everyone in the vicinity.
Earlier in the season, I happened to be waiting in Ed's Dodge, while he was rogering Carmen Fazone's wife, and I happened to read through the owner's manual to pass time. The manual clearly stated the potential danger of not properly discharging static electricity while refueling. When I pointed this out to Ed, he said to me "Ethel always sits in the car when she pumps gas, because she is a trollop". I pleaded with Ed to refer to the owner's manual, however my concerns fell on deaf ears. Not wanting to die, I shook Ed's hand and told him that I would be continuing on without him. Sadly, that would be the last time anyone talked to Ed Ott ever again.
I walked about a half mile in the cold Ohio night, when a car stopped and offered me a ride, pancakes and a good time. Ivan Perkins was this gentleman's name, and he didn't seem to be a Hungarian, so I decided I would accept his offer for a ride, nourishment and good times. He took me to his new restaurant, which was open 24 hours. At that time in Upper Sandusky, the only things that were open 24 hours were the brothels, and drycleaners, and of course the dry-cleaning brothel on Harrison Boulevard. I was disappointed with the lack of hookers but the pancakes were delightful. My mood started to improve and I started "scat-singing" as I am known to do when I am in a good spirits.
Out of the booth across from me, this dark-haired gentleman stood up and approached me. I will never forget his name, it was Elton Presney or something like that. Anyway he hopped up on a stool and said "Ken let me tell you what, I guess you didn't know it, but I am a scat singer too, and if you care to take a dare, I'll make a bet with you. Now you sing a pretty good scat son, but give old Elton his due, I will bet my black kung-fu belt against your soul to say I am better than you".
I responded in kind, "You know my name is Kenny, and it may be a sin, but you're going to regret that I took this bet, because I am the best scatter that's ever been." Elton cleared his throat, and said "I'll start this show" as he made an evil hiss, and the Jordanaires joined in and they scatted something like this "skeep-beep de bop-bop beep bop bo-dope skeetle-at-de-op-de-day!"
When Elton finished I said "Well that was pretty good old son, but sit down on that stool right there and let me show you how it's done, Ho-de-ho-de-ho-de-ho-de-ho-de-oh Skeedle-a-booka-diki biki skeedly beeka gookity woop! A-booriki-booriki-booriki Hoy! Yowza.
Elton bowed his head because he knew he had been beat, and he laid his black kung-fu belt on the ground at my feet. I told him "Elton you come on back if you ever want to try again, because I told you once you sonofabitch I am the best that has ever been."
At that point Ivan Perkins kicked me out of his establishment for causing a ruckus.
Anyway Jimmy, that is the story of how I built the Liberty Bridge in Pittsburgh without any sort of certification from the state or taking any engineering classes. Thanks for you interest in all things Macha, and I hope to meet you soon.
PS. Tony Curtis sucks.
So: there's your answer.
This week in "the inmates are running the asylum": Last night, after leading off the top of the ninth with a well-placed bunt, Ryan Braun made back-to-back curious decisions, first stealing second with Prince Fielder down two strikes -- and, it seems, distracting the big man, who chased a high fastball with the runner going -- and then attempting to take third base, which was unoccupied due to the infield shift with Fielder at the plate. Only problem was: Andy LaRoche still had the ball when Braun decided to break for third. Two outs, budding rally dead. Something tells me that Macha didn't have the steal sign on in that situation.
Likelihood that Macha will be fired before May 27, 2010: 90%.