Major League Baseball’s playoffs begin today, and for only the second time since the current eight-team format debuted in 1995, there is no California team in the hunt for the World Series.
Both the Giants and the A’s managers held their traditional end-of-season press conferences Thursday.
For the Giants, general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy (accompanied at times by the AT&T Park cleaning crew) fielded questions from the reporters about why the 2010 World Champions made an early exit from contention. The most obvious reason was the season-ending injury to Buster Posey, but Sabean said it was far from the only problem.
“We have to play better defense,” he said. “Our defense wasn’t as good as it should have been. That can help our pitching. We also have to run the bases better. And that’s something that we can control, that’ll be a major theme going into next spring training.”
Click here to see the archived video at CSN Bay Area.
You can read some insightful, amusing, and occasionally profane analysis of the press conference at the McCovey Chronicles blog .
Across the bay, A’s general manager Billy Beane posed in front of the team’s Japanese-language backdrop. Not by coincidence, since about half the questions during the press conference were from the Japanese reporters who’ve been with the team this year, following Hideki Matsui’s every move. It looks like those reporters may be back next year, first to welcome the A’s to Tokyo when they open the 2012 season in Japan against the Seattle Mariners, and then back in Oakland if the rumors that Matsui will be re-signed are true.
The non-Japanese reporters were just as interested in discussing the A’s future home as they were the future roster. A blue-ribbon panel appointed by Major League Baseball has been pondering – for the better part of three years — the A’s request to move the team from Oakland to San Jose. But recently, Beane has thrown out hints that the answer may be coming soon. If the move gets the green light, Beane suggested the team would avoid signing pricey veterans for its remaining years in Oakland, so they could rebuild a team of young players for the new ballpark. “The key to having a successful opening is to have a great team,” he said. “And if you’ve got a new stadium in four years, you probably do everything you can to put yourself in the position of having a great team, not just for one year, but a number of years going forward.”
Here’s the archived video of Beane.
The parsing of Beane’s remarks and other intuition about the A’s future continues at the New A’s Ballpark blog.