The Oakland A's radio broadcast team.
In Part Two of our interview with Oakland A's radio broadcaster Vince Cotroneo, we discuss the departure of Ken Macha, Ron Washington's personality and Bob Geren's prospects for success in his first season as Oakland's manager.
Part One of the Interview
The Interview, Part Two
OC: I know that you had spent a lot of time with Ken Macha through the radio show. How surprised were you when that decision came down to let him go?
VC: I was surprised at the timing. I would not have been surprised if a move would have been made before the end of his contract. When that would have been, I don’t know, but sensing the tension in the clubhouse - that discussion about the void in the communication - was becoming more evident late in the season. Certainly Billy and the front office were acutely aware of it and they felt that it was best to make a move sooner rather than later.
Ken was supportive when I got the job and he was supportive of me throughout the year and when I had questions away from the general media sessions, he was always very forthright and always gave me very well thought out answers. Ken Macha is a very good baseball man and knows the game extremely well. For whatever reason, it just wasn’t working out for him as a manager in Oakland long-term, but I know that the day he was let go, he was offered jobs and that is a credit to him. We’ll see him again in major league baseball very soon.
It’s not an easy decision for a front office and I know given the history of the ballclub, Billy wanted to make sure that the timing was right and he felt like that was the right time to do it.
OC: When Ron Washington was hired by Texas, where you had been before, did you have a chance to talk to him about the team and about being in Arlington?
VC: I did. I gave him a congratulatory call when it was made official here in the Dallas area that he got the job. I was actually one of the first ones to tell him that there was an interest by Texas in him. I had some friends of mine tell me that there were going to be some discussions in the off-season [by the Rangers] and that Ron Washington was on their radar. I am certainly very happy for him and I was pleasantly surprised, for Ron Washington’s sake, that a team in Texas that hasn’t historically looked outside of the box when making that commitment decided to go a completely different direction from who they had hired in the past.
I wish Ron all of the best except for those 19 games or so when he plays the A’s. It will be fun to see him. He has more than earned the opportunity and more people like Ron Washington, who are straight-forward, straight-shooters, true baseball men, need a chance to have success. It will be interesting to see what he does with Hank Blalock and what he does being around Michael Young on a daily basis. The Rangers have always had talent, but there has always been something that has held them back. I get the sense that they think they have someone now who is going to make the line-up out, leave the players alone and let them play. That might allow them to flourish, if they have pitching, so we’ll see.
It will be fun to see Ron in spring training. He has not changed since the first day I met him in 1989 and I don’t anticipate him changing when I see him running a major league team.
OC: What do you expect from Bob Geren as a rookie manager having seen him as a coach for a year now?
VC: I don’t know. I can go by what the players have been saying and that has been all positive. He has definitely earned the position himself. Independent of what has been written about him and his off-field relationship with Billy Beane, Geren has managed in the minors, has managed in foreign countries and he has been a big league player and a big league coach. I don’t know what else he has to prove before he is given a chance.
The key for Bob, it seems, will be communication and they say that that is a very strong suit for him. It certainly was with us. I sense that the clubhouse will have a positive reaction to Bob and I am anxious to see it get going. I am very happy for him and I think it was the right thing for the club to do, if they were not going to hire Ron Washington, to go in that direction.
OC: Is there any thought at this point if anyone will be replacing Ron Washington on the post-game radio shows or is that something that you will all discuss during spring training?
VC: That is a Robert deal, although I did help out with it some. As A’s fans know, Ron Washington is unique on the radio, especially when he did the show live and fans got to witness first hand what Ron Washington is all about. That is going to be a big hole to fill and I don’t know if there is really somebody on the coaching staff that can fill the radio show like Ron Washington, although those coaches are all excellent baseball people. Maybe one of them will bring their personality right out during spring training and make their mark. However, Wash was just unique in his own right and I was glad to be a part of seeing him get that kind of exposure as a coach, which really doesn’t happen a whole lot in many major league circles.
OC: What are your expectations for yourself going into spring training?
VC: Very simply, just knowing where to go when I am getting off the airplane and getting to my rental car and finding the stadium. Not that it was that hard to get to [Phoenix] Municipal Stadium, but it is just that familiarity with the routine, walking into the clubhouse with some familiarity, it makes all of the difference. I am already preparing notes and the other stuff that I do on a regular basis to get ready for a season. The fact that I have experienced a full year with the club, a full year back in the league and a full year of stories about things that happened to certain clubs at certain times of the year just makes it a much easier task to get up and running much earlier then what I was up against last year.
OC: Did you have a favorite game last season, like the first game of the final home series against the Angels or another game during the regular season?
VC: That game was fun because when you are playing playoff-like baseball in a playoff atmosphere and you are essentially playing your heated rival and all of those games have historically come down to one or two runs, and that one was no different. That was fun because you can look at it as having been a part of a significant play in a significant game, but in many respects I wouldn’t really want to characterize a favorite moment because there are so many great moments in a season that are worth remembering, whether I was a part of the call of the play or not.
I think for me, one thing that I take away from this season is just how impressed I was with the day-to-day defense of Eric Chavez, which I knew was outstanding, but had not seen on a regular basis before. I think the Texas series late in the year when he almost single-handedly won that series with his glove that kind of comes to mind as a signature moment. That along with some of Frank Thomas’ big hits, Mark Kotsay playing essentially with duct-tape holding him together, making some great running catches, appreciating Jason Kendall and what he meant to the club and Mark Ellis and his professionalism are all things I took from this season. Certainly I can take every player and give you a moment to remember about him.
Just the season as a whole and to be back in it and being a part of major league baseball and being blessed to get that second chance meant more to me then any one individual moment.
OC: When does the regular broadcast crew call its first game this spring?
VC: We will be on the air on the first Saturday of the spring, which is March 3 against the Chicago Cubs. Robert will be calling all of the games that we don’t call over the internet and his first game will be that Thursday, March 1.