Wertheim: 1916 Philadelphia A’s may have been worst team ever

From Jon Wertheim at Sports Illustrated on July 21, 2016, with mention of SABR member Norman Macht:

There was a wooden bench made of bats and studded with baseballs. Otherwise there was nothing in Connie Mack’s office to suggest that he managed a major league team. Befitting a man who wore a suit and tie in the dugout, Mack decorated his office inside Shibe Park in a style you might call Accountant Gothic. There was a big oak desk, a wooden filing cabinet and a high-back swivel chair. By accident or design, players who paid a visit to the room got the feeling that they were there for a business meeting. And players had many such meetings in that office during the mid-1910s.

During the first half of that decade the Philadelphia A’s, which Mack managed and partly owned, won the World Series three times—in 1910, ’11 and ’13—and unexpectedly lost it once, in ’14. They were a true dynasty of the Dead Ball era. And like many other dynasties, this one crumbled spectacularly. Unlike many other dynasties, however, it fell by its own design. Starting in the fall of ’14, player after player walked into Mack’s office and sat in front of his desk. As forthright and honorable as ever, Mack looked each man in the eye and explained that he had been traded, sold or released.

Mack trafficked in the let-’em-down-easy talk that will ring familiar to sports fans a century later. In order for the franchise to move forward, it’s time to embrace a youth movement. . . . It would be fiscally irresponsible for us to match your competing offers. . . . It isn’t personal; it’s just business. Mack offered a familiar trope to the media and the A’s fans too, reassuring them that the team was building for the future, that any short-term pain would be to the long-term benefit of the franchise.

Read the full article here: http://www.si.com/mlb/2016/07/21/pathetics-1916-philadelphia-athletics-connie-mack?xid=si_social

Originally published: July 21, 2016. Last Updated: July 21, 2016.