Word is out tonight from the Bay Area that Al Davis has given the heave-ho to Coach Tom Cable, who guided the Raiders to an 8-8 record this season, their best in recent years. Evidently improving operations is not enough in Oakland, where it’s “just win, baby.”
Or so it’s supposed to be.
The Raiders have been a sorry spectacle the past few years. Cable may not have been the most articulate or dynamic figurehead for the Silver and Black, but at least he figured out a way to improve the team. That can’t be said for Mike Singletary, who got sacked with one game to go in the 49ers’ disappointing season.
Being the head coach or manager in the NFL, Major League Baseball or any other top-level league has its rewards. But in the end, most coaches get kicked in the hindquarters.
In the mid-70s, my father dropped a mid-summer note to Cleveland Indians manager Jeff Torborg, who was soon to be chucked after another dismal season by the Tribe. Torborg sent my dad a postcard with a picture of him in uniform on one side. On the back, Torborg’s handwritten note thanked my dad for whatever kind words he had sent. I can’t remember precisely what Torborg wrote, but it was a gentle note, something along the lines of “this stuff comes with the territory.”
I asked my dad what he’d written. He’d sent a note of sympathetic encouragement, noting that the managers never get enough credit if the team wins and certainly bear the brunt of the blame if the players fail.
That’s the way it has always been in pro sports. The coaches-to-be of the Niners, Raiders and multiple other franchises about to announce dynamic new leadership should keep that in perspective as they head to the rostrum to announce their commitment to winning, to reaching the “next level,” to bringing glory back to this storied franchise, yada, yada, yada.
Savor the day, mi amigos. This may be the best day you have at the helm.