Yost firing a headscratcher

BOB ELLIOTT -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

Somewhere near the bratwurst, Polish sausage and the mustard inside Mark Attanasio's office there must be a button.

And the Milwaukee Brewers president hit the panic button Monday -- with both hands.

He hit the button so hard it was as if he was trying to lock in his answer and beat the other contestants on a game show.

Attanasio instructed general managed Doug Melvin to fire manager Ned Yost with 12 games remaining.

Attanasio bought the Brewers in 2005 from Bud Selig, who moved on to become commissioner. A few ownership meetings down the road, we remember asking someone about the new Milwaukee owner.

"He'll be fine, perfect for baseball," was the answer. "He has all the impulsiveness of George Steinbrenner without the money."

Attanasio showed that with the surprising move to bang Yost and replace him with third base coach Dale Sveum.

Former Blue Jay infielder Garth Iorg replaced Sveum as the third base coach.

Yost was so bad his team shared the National League wild-card lead at the time he was gassed.

The firing is unprecedented.

The only exit which comes close was in 1981 when Montreal Expos president John McHale fired future Hall of Fame manager Dick Williams Sept. 8 and replaced him with Jim Fanning in Philadelphia.

We were there and the night before legendary UPI columnist Milton Richman wrote how Williams would manage the 1982 Yankees. We phoned McHale at the team hotel from Veterans Stadium.

"Milton wrote that, did he?" McHale asked.

The next morn, Richard Griffin, Expos Hall of Fame P.R. director, phoned at nine to say: "Mr. McHale's suite in half an hour."

Williams had been banged. The Expos went on to win 17 of their final 27 and take the second half of the strike-marred season.

They came within a win of making the World Series, beating the Philadelphia Phillies and losing Game 5 to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Rick Monday's homer. Williams maintained in Cooperstown this summer they could have done the same with him in charge.

No one has the answer to that, no matter what the Brewers do.

Cito Gaston and Dave Tremblay, neither of whom knew Yost, had empathy for Yost before last night's Blue Jays-Baltimore Orioles series opener.

"I sympathize with him," Gaston said. "I don't know all that went on over there, but I'm pretty sure it came as a complete shock to him."

"It's a tough business," said Tremblay.

Former Jays manager Buck Martinez, in his role of XM radio host and broadcaster for the Orioles, was on top of the situation.

"Ownership panicked," Martinez said. "They rolled the dice at the deadline. They were the only team to move a big-time prospect in Matt LaPorta and they got C.C. Sabathia in return.

"Sabathia was 9-0 (he lost his first NL game last night) but if they don't reach the post-season it won't matter. And they'll be without Ben Sheets, Sabathia and LaPorta for next season."

Martinez said of the baseball people he spoke to, Yost, his former teammate with the 1980 Brewers, was handling this month's slump better than the fade of 2007.

"Ned learned from last year," Martinez said. "It's like Ozzie Guillen says: 'Anyone can manage a team of all-stars and MVPs.'

"The Brewers have some veterans in Mike Cameron, Jason Kendall and Gabe Kapler, but basically they have a young team in Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, J.J. Hardy and Corey Hart."

Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox, who could be a White House press secretary when it comes to not going out on a limb or answering questions, blasted the Brewers for firing his former coach.

"They're looked at the last 10 days," Cox told reporters in Atlanta. "You have to look at the whole season. It's not fair, with 12 days. All the hard work he did in the spring, six months of the season. And you let him go with 12 games to go? Unheard of!"

Will the Brewers pitch better -- a 4.68 earned run average this month -- with Sveum?

Will they hit better than second last -- in hitting (.207) and runs scored (38) -- under Sveum?

Will they do better than 11 losses of their first 14 games with Sveum?

If not, will the owner hit the button again?


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