OAKLAND — This is a cautionary tale about the Oakland A’s.
On Sunday morning before his team lost to the Twins 6-1, A’s manager Bob Melvin sat in his usual place on the dugout bench. It was his pregame news conference. After the beat writers had asked their nuts-and-bolts questions about who was and wasn’t playing, about who was hurt, I said to Melvin, “Bob, try to remember back to when you took an English class at Cal.”
“I think I took it three times, to tell you the truth,” he said maybe feeling edgy about where I was going.
“Well then you’re going to do good on this,” I said, throwing grammar to the wind. “I’ll give you a quick essay question. What is your goal for the remainder of the regular season? I’ll grade you afterward.”
“You’ll grade me afterward?” he said, obviously thinking he does the grading around the A’s, not some sports writer. Then he gave his answer because he’s a good sport, and he wanted a good grade: “Our goal from here to the end of the regular season is to win the division.”
“And win the division,” he said.
He laughed. He meant there was no discussion, no better answer. Only one right answer.
“To stay out of the wild-card game?” I said just to make sure.
“Well, I think that would be prudent. Any time you get into the postseason, it’s exciting. But if you can win the division . . .”