Each part fits perfectly, one complementing the other. The spares, when needed, blend in like the original. It may be the most awesome sports machine of the generation.
The Oakland Athletics have become the Robo-team of baseball.Fresh off their impressive sweep of the overmatched Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series, the A's are waiting to meet the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series. There is no worry or concern. Mike Gallego put it best when he said, "The only thing that can beat the Oakland A's is the Oakland A's."
And that doesn't happen very often.
Why? Well, the talent is obvious, but there is something more. There's a certain togetherness in the clubhouse that is different than most sports team. While most professionals talk about playing for the team, the great majority play for themselves and hope it all fits into the general scheme. Not the case with Oakland.
Yes, there are superstars who dot the A's lineup, but they all fit within the system.
"We have a team that can beat you with any aspect," Jose Canseco said proudly. "And everything is done in unison. I think this is probably the best team assembled in baseball. Ever. People laugh when I say that, but where's the argument?"
Best ever is a tough thing to prove. Red Sox manager Joe Morgan jokingly said, "Well, I don't think I saw the '27 Yankees, but this team is as good as we've had in years."
In the past three years the A's have ruled the baseball world. When the World Series starts Tuesday in the National League park, Oakland will be the American League representative for the third straight year. Only one of the game's greatest singular heroic feats - Kirk Gibson's pinch-hit homer off Dennis Eckersley - has kept the A's from going after a three-peat. Instead, the defending champions are looking to win their second consecutive title, becoming the first team to pull off that exacta since the 1977-78 Yankees.
And while it would be understandable if the A's were insufferable fools with their success, it is not the case. Instead, they carry a certain air about them, a confidence that does not cross the border to cockiness. They do not think they can be beaten but they don't say much in the area of boasting.
True, Canseco sometimes opens his mouth too much and Rickey Henderson may go overboard with his words, but manager Tony La Russa keeps a close rein on the clubhouse.
The Oakland manager is the man behind the controls of this impressive vehicle and he rarely makes a mistake. General manager Sandy Alderson designed this classic and has turned it over fully to La Russa.
La Russa, who rarely says or does the wrong thing, simply said, "I realize how lucky I am and what an rare opportunity this is, and that's why I won't waste it."
Instead, he has nurtured it. His communication skills may be the best in baseball and his rapport with his coaching staff is unparalleled. There are no petty jealousies among the staff and nothing is kept festering in the team. Because of the open lines of communication, each player knows his role and learns to accept it. Those who don't are shown the exit door.
Example. When Ken Phelps was acquired from the New York Yankees last season to provide a lefthanded bat off the bench, he frequently made excuses for his lack of production. Phelps said he wasn't getting enough at-bats and because of that could not produce when he played. That's all La Russa had to hear. He detests whiners and complainers and Phelps fell into both categories, thus necessitating his eventual departure. Keeps 'em meshing
"Tony keeps us on our toes," Willie Randolph said. "He makes sure of that. And this team is so talented. I've never been on a team with so much talent. The way Sandy and Tony put this team together is a joy to see. It's the way every organization should be run."
Call it Robo-team.