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So the A's fired Steve Boros as manager last week because he wasn't tough enough. "You don't have to be an ornery, cantankerous kind of guy to be a good manager," said pitcher Steve McCatty, "but you do have to show you won't sit back when players do things wrong."
One of the reasons Boros was hired to succeed Billy Martin was his low-key approach to the game. It's an old formula—fire a martinet, or someone who has alienated too many players, and hire someone who'll sing lullabies and tuck everyone in.
You can be sure that will happen in San Diego when Dick Williams is bumped. Williams, who knows his baseball, has a personality glitch that causes him to get nasty with the hired help for no logical reason. If the Padres don't win this year after signing free-agent Goose Gossage and trading for Graig Nettles, it seems likely that Williams will be gone.
We offer this solution. The A's should hire Williams when he becomes available, to kick butts for a year or two, or however long it takes for him to wear out his welcome. And the Padres, when they make that change, should hire Boros. After all, he'd be the perfect tonic.
There was a slightly bizarre sidelight to the Boros dismissal, involving his successor, Jackie Moore. The A's coach was summoned to the office of team president Roy Eisenhardt last Wednesday, the day before the firing, and according to Moore, "We had a very frank discussion about the club. When I walked out to my car after the talk I started thinking, That might have been a job interview. I hope the right words came out.' "
The next morning Moore learned that the right words had come out—the job was his, but Boros wouldn't be told until after that day's game with the Orioles, which the A's won. "Here I am during the game," Moore said, "trying to communicate with Steve, joking around some, and all the time knowing I'm going to take his job. After we won, I'm thinking, 'Maybe this isn't the day. How long can I go through this?' " As it turned out, about an hour.
Bob Brenly may be hitting .339, but the biggest reason he has become the Giants' starting catcher is his improvement behind the plate.
Brenly, 30, didn't get drafted out of Ohio University in 1976, and he didn't stick in the big leagues until 1982. He came to spring training this year as just another catcher because manager Frank Robinson didn't like his pitch selection and the way he ran a game.
"Frank had been candid about it in the papers," says Brenly, who was an infielder-outfielder for most of his six years in the bushes. "And at the time I was too intimidated to go in to talk to him. I was intimidated right out of my shorts. But in spring training I finally did.
"I said, 'We've got to have a talk,' and he said, 'You're right. What's bugging you?' I told him what was bugging me, and he told me what I did that was bugging him, and we worked it out. The thing about Frank is, until you earn his respect he doesn't want to have much to do with you."