When A's Brand Baseball last appeared here, the A's and manager Ken Macha (right, not a recent photo) had broken off contract negotiations. $2.6 million over 3 years, with a team option for the 4th, was simply unacceptable to Macha, who became a free agent. The A's started conducting interviews for the vacancy, and our tone about the whole thing may have been somewhat cavalier.

Imagine our surprise, then, when the A's and Ken Macha agreed to terms on Friday: for 3 years and $2.6 million, and no club option, or almost precisely the terms that had him peddling his wares elsewhere at this time last week, Ken Macha will manage in Oakland. As apprehensive as A's fans must be over another 3 years of the kind of decisions Macha makes (viz. batting Jason Kendall third, pinch-hitting Adam Melhuse for Jermaine Dye, using Jim Mecir and Jay Witasick), we have to love this: Macha and his agent, Alan Nero, tried to play hardball with Billy Beane, who absolutely broke him. The AP reports, in fact, that Macha called Beane to "reopen negotiations," or, as it seems from here, "come crawling back." Billy, with whom it is not wise to f*ck, said that Macha "was a good enough manager for us to want him back before, and he's still a good enough manager to come back." Ken Macha did not comment on whether he wanted that printed on his next baseball card.

The A's players seem happy with their manager returning. As for the fans, here's Beane's real masterstroke in the whole saga: with much of his fan base excited about a new manager, he found a candidate even further from our hearts. Welcome back, Ken "Good Enough" Macha. At least you're not Orel Goddamn Hershiser.