Athletics

Melvin named 2012 AL Manager of the Year

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Melvin named 2012 AL Manager of the Year

Programming note: The Final Cut: 2012 Oakland A's, the story of Oaklands incredible 2012 season, debuts Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California!

OAKLAND -- Bob Melvin was named the 2012 American League Manager of the Year Tuesday after leading the Oakland Athletics to a 94-68 record. The A's overcame a 13-game deficit to win the AL West on the final day of the season and reached the postseason for the first time since 2006.

Melvin beat out Buck Showalter for the honor. Both Melvin and Showalter appeared, in some order, in the first two slots on all of the 28 ballots.

Melvin took home 16 first-place votes and 12 second-place votes for 116 overall points. Showalter was close behind with 108 points -- 12 first-place votes and 16 second-place votes.

On June 9, 2011, the A's named Melvin their interim manager. Since that day Oakland has gone 141-120. Under Melvin's guidance the culture of the A's has changed.After shipping off All-Stars Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, and Andrew Bailey prior to the 2011 season, no one outside of the A's organization expected the team to succeed in 2012. Yet, they finished 20 games better than they did in 2011.Is it any surprise that Melvin is the American League Manager of the Year? It shouldn't be. He is just the second A's manager to win the award that was first given out in 1983 -- Tony La Russa took home the honor for the A's in 1988 and 1992. Melvin was voted the National League Manager of the Year with the Diamondbacks in 2007, and is the 13th skipper to win the award more than once, and just the fifth to win the award in each league.With Melvin at the helm, the A's overcame the seemingly insurmountable. They won the AL West after trailing by 13 games. They overcame the loss of their three best starting pitchers during the stretch run to become the first team in MLB history to win a division while trailing by five games with nine to play. They had a catcher playing third base, a shortstop playing second base, a center fielder playing left field and an outfielder playing first base.Somehow, Melvin made it all work. At times the A's roster looked like an insolvable brainteaser, but the A's manager had more answers than The Riddler. "To do what he did with a ballclub that wasn't supposed to do anything is something special," A's outfielder Josh Reddick said.
The A's offense thrived though the use of platoons at first base, second base, shortstop, DH, and catcher. They were able to do so because of Melvin's communication skills. Every player knew when he was going to be in the lineup, out of the lineup, and the reason why. After every game Melvin had his coaching staff let each player know what their role for the next day would be. He used every last player on the roster to win. He simply managed the A's to success. Melvin was communicative, had his lineups posted early every day, openly answered any and all questions asked by the media, and even donated his office microwave to the beat writers so we could heat up our food in the press box.He went above and beyond in every way imaginable.Melvin won the award over Orioles' manager Buck Showalter, who snapped a skid of 14 consecutive losing seasons in Baltimore with a 93-win season. Showalter's Orioles were one of the biggest surprises in baseball, but the A's story was more shocking. The Orioles entered 2012 with a far more talented roster than the A's that included All-Stars Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy, and Jim Johnson. The A's used 19 rookies, 12 of them were pitchers.REWIND: Melvin among three finalists
"Obviously I am biased, but all do respect, I think Buck Showalter has done a phenomenal job, I can't imagine anyone other than Bob Melvin being manager of the year," general manager Billy Beane said at the conclusion of the season. "That statement from me says it all."Beane's vote of confidence in Melvin is huge. Traditionally the A's GM has employed more passive managers. His hiring of Melvin was a departure from that strategy and it worked.It's not just the front office singing Melvin's praises. During the A's champagne celebration after winning the AL West, third baseman Josh Donaldson pulled me aside, made sure my recorder was ready and went on an impassioned rant about why Melvin deserved to be manager of the year. Melvin made that strong of an impression on the team. Every player on the A's would run through a brick wall for Melvin."If Bob Melvin doesn't win manager of the year, then baseball is ridiculous," Donaldson said after the 162nd game. "I know we don't get publicity from the East Coast, but people have to realize the job that Bob Melvin has done and what has happened in Oakland. You've got to give the man his respect."Melvin got his respect. Not that he was seeking it. The humble manager usually likes to deflect attention and he is the first to credit his players, coaches and front office for the team's success. After a remarkable 2012 season across the board in Oakland, the future appears to be brighter than ever for Melvin and the A's.

A's blow it again in ninth, swept on walk-off grand slam in 10th

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USATI

A's blow it again in ninth, swept on walk-off grand slam in 10th

BOX SCORE

TORONTO  — Steve Pearce became the latest Blue Jay to hit a game-ending home run.

Pearce hit a tiebreaking grand slam in the 10th inning and Toronto beat the Oakland Athletics 8-4 on Thursday to complete a four-game sweep.

"Hopefully we just keep the ball rolling," Pearce said. "We're getting down to the end of the season so we've got to step it up and this was a great series to get it started."

Oakland reliever Liam Hendriks (3-2) walked the bases loaded with two outs before Pearce hooked a 3-2 pitch down the left field line and into the second deck. The grand slam was the second of his career and first since May 2015.

The Blue Jays won consecutive games on home runs for the first time in team history.

Kendrys Morales, who hit a game-winning homer in the ninth inning Wednesday, had two more home runs Thursday. Morales connected off Sean Manaea in the fifth and added a tying blast off Blake Treinen in the ninth, the 19th multihomer game of his career.

Treinen got the ninth in place of Santiago Casilla, who blew Wednesday's game. The Athletics have blown five of their past six save opportunities.

"We're just having trouble finishing off games," manager Bob Melvin said.

Toronto has hit four game-ending home runs this season, the third-highest total in team history. They hit six in 2011.

Josh Donaldson also homered for Toronto, a solo blast in the first.

Roberto Osuna (3-0) worked one inning for the win.

Marcus Semien had three hits and a walk for the Athletics, who have lost 12 of 13 in Toronto.

In the fifth, one batter after Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was ejected for arguing ball and strikes with home plate umpire Will Little, Stroman and catcher Russell Martin were both tossed. An irate Stroman charged toward home plate to confront Little, and had to be restrained by Martin and bench coach DeMarlo Hale.

Right-hander Chris Smith replaced Stroman and Miguel Montero took over for Martin.

Stroman allowed three runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings, walking a season-high six. Asked about the ejection afterward, he had little to say.

"When it comes to umpires or any of that, I'm not going to be making any comments about that," Stroman said. "I want to make my next start."

Oakland struck quickly against Stroman, scoring three runs in the first against a pitcher who had allowed just four earned runs combined in his previous four July starts. Ryon Healy drove in a run with a groundout and Bruce Maxwell followed with a two-run single.

Donaldson replied with a one-out blast in the bottom half, his 10th, and Morales connected to begin the fifth, his 19th.

Toronto tied it in the sixth when Jose Bautista hit a leadoff double and scored on Justin Smoak's two-out single.

Troy Tulowitzki tried to score from second on Darwin Barney's two-out single in the seventh, but was thrown out at home plate by a strong throw from right fielder Matt Joyce.

Manaea allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings.

"It kind of stings a little bit," Manaea said. "We had an opportunity to win and just didn't put it together."

Oakland broke a 3-all tie against Ryan Tepera in the eighth when Semien's two-out single scored Jaycob Brugman, but Morales answered in the ninth.

GETTING THE AX

Oakland RHP John Axford, the NL saves leader in 2011, was designated for assignment. Melvin said it was tough to cut Axford, citing his veteran presence in the clubhouse. Axford went 0-1 with no saves and a 6.43 ERA in 22 appearances.

WORST IN THE FIRST

Blue Jays pitchers have an AL-worst 6.35 ERA in the first inning.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Athletics: C Josh Phegley (left oblique) was placed on the 10-day DL and C Ryan Lavarnway was recalled from Triple-A Nashville. ... RHP Ryan Dull (right knee) was activated off the DL, taking Axford's spot on the roster.

Blue Jays: Quality control coach Derek Shelton replaced first base coach Tim Leiper (illness) midway through the game.

UP NEXT

Athletics: RHP Daniel Gossett (2-5, 5.40) starts the opener of a three-game home series against Minnesota. Gossett has allowed at least one homer in seven of his first eight starts. Newly acquired LHP Jaime Garcia (4-7. 4.30) goes for the Twins.

Blue Jays: LHP J.A. Happ (3-7, 4.13) starts the opener of a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels. Happ allowed a season-high seven earned runs in his previous outing, a July 23 loss at Cleveland. RHP Parker Bridwell (4-1, 3.09) starts for the Angels.

There was so much more to Bill King’s life beyond the broadcast booth

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There was so much more to Bill King’s life beyond the broadcast booth

When the Hall of Fame presents Bill King with the Ford C. Frick award Saturday, it will be big not only for the multitude of fans that listened to him but the colleagues who worked alongside the legendary A's broadcaster.

“I think he was the very best radio sports broadcaster we’ve ever had in this country,” NBC Sports Bay Area’s Greg Papa said. “He’s just a radio genius. To me, he epitomized the Bay Area as a sportscaster because he was the Bay Area. His word choice, his vocabulary, the way he was able to describe things. In so many ways he was the perfect Bay Area radio broadcaster.”

King was the rare breed of broadcaster, someone versatile enough and knowledgable enough to excel at announcing three major sports — football with the Raiders from 1966-92, basketball with the Warriors from 1962-83 and baseball with the A’s from 1981 until his death in 2005.

It was baseball that was nearest to his heart. And while his expertise at describing a ballgame was unparalleled, there was so much more to King’s life beyond the broadcast booth. That’s something current A’s radio play-by-play man Ken Korach discovered in the decade he worked alongside King after joining the A’s in 1995.

Korach, who chronicled King’s career in the 2013 book “Holy Toledo: Lessons from Bill King, Renaissance Man of the Mic”, found himself visiting art museums with King during A’s road trips.

“He was a patron of the arts and the ballet, the opera,” Korach said. “One thing that people may not know is that he was a wonderful impressionist painter. He painted landscapes that were absolutely beautiful, breaththaking.”

Korach has one of King’s paintings hanging in his den.

Like King, Papa also announced three different sports at the same time for a period — football with the Raiders, basketball with the San Antonio Spurs and baseball with the A’s. When he joined the A’s television booth in 1990, King was a crucial resource for him.

“When I began doing A’s TV in 1990, I would listen to Bill and have a legal pad out and take notes,” said Papa, who still calls Raider games. “It was better than any research I could do. He was so meticulously prepared.”

Korach chuckled when recalling King’s idiosyncrasies in the booth, such as insisting the window always remain open regardless of the elements.

“Even if it was December in Cleveland, and it was a Raider game and snowing and 5 degrees, the window would stay open,” Korach said. “He was real meticulous with the way he would set up the table when broadcasting the game, all of the notes in a certain place. And the wind would just wreak havoc. There was one game when literally I was on the air and he just took all of his stuff and slammed it on the ground, he was so upset and frustrated.”

For many years King was bypassed for Cooperstown, his excellence in three sports probably robbing him of being appreciated in one specific sport. On Saturday, he gets the ultimate tribute in being inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Korach and his wife, Denise, will be on hand for the ceremony.

“The most important thing,” Korach said, “is what it means to A’s fans, and fans in the Bay Area in general.”