From Comcast SportsNetOAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Bob Melvin has repeatedly described the comfort of managing right at home in the Bay Area -- and Billy Beane has described the comfort in having a winning, "modern-day" manager leading the Oakland Athletics.Melvin is staying put in the very place he wants to be well into the future.The A's manager received a two-year contract extension Monday that takes him through the 2016 season. Later Monday, Oakland announced it had reached agreement on a 1 million, one-year contract with catcher George Kottaras, a raise of 275,000.Beane is thrilled to have a manager in place to guide the small-budget A's for years to come."To get an extension like this from people you respect and admire and supported you, it really makes you feel good and makes you feel better about doing your job," said Melvin, voted AL Manager of the Year after leading Oakland to a surprising West division title. "My expectations are the same as last year. We're going to compete hard and expect to win. Based on having the results we had last year, we'll have that much more confidence coming into spring training."Oakland became the first team in major league history to win a division or pennant after trailing by five games with less than 10 to play, sweeping three games against Texas to win the division over the Rangers."It's really a reflection of our commitment to Bob and Bob's commitment to us. If you know you have the right guy, there's no sense in waiting until he's got one year left," general manager Billy Beane said. "This was probably the simplest negotiation I've ever had in my career here. That's a reflection of the relationship that Bob has with the organization. We're happy to give him this well-deserved extension. It didn't take very long. The actual writing it up took longer than the actual negotiations."Oakland lost to Detroit 3-2 in a best-of-five AL division series. The A's ended a five-year stretch without a winning record or playoff berth, finishing 94-68.The A's did it with a payroll of 59.5 million -- lowest in the majors -- and 12 rookies. They did it with significant injuries to their starting pitchers and lost their third baseman, Scott Sizemore, to a season-ending knee injury on the first full-squad workout of spring training. And they did it after losing right-hander Bartolo Colon to a 50-game suspension in August for a positive testosterone test, then re-signed him this winter.The 51-year-old Melvin, a former big league catcher who grew up in Menlo Park and played at Cal, took over from the fired Bob Geren in June 2011. Melvin led the Diamondbacks to the NL West title in 2007 and also won 93 games in his rookie season with Seattle in 2003."We knew we had the right guy right from the get go. Continuity is important," Beane said. "It's really important. Once again last year was certainly enjoyable. It's easy to look at a year like last year and everybody has fun when you're winning. This relationship with Bob and myself and the front office and the players started when he took over."Melvin received a three-year contract from Oakland late in the 2011 season. The A's went 47-52 after he took over that year.His local ties are only a bonus. Melvin played three seasons with the San Francisco Giants."I was excited and impressed when Billy told me that Bob was available and accepting the manager role with us," owner Lew Wolff said. "As I observed Bob's leadership and very special drive, I was even more impressed with Billy's choice. I am so very pleased that we will have Bob with us for the foreseeable future. Bob's use of our talent was and is brilliant in my opinion."Kottaras, acquired from Milwaukee before last year's trade deadline, batted .212 with six home runs and 19 RBIs in 27 games for Oakland after hitting .209 with three home runs and 12 RBIs in 58 games with the Brewers.Three A's remain eligible to file for arbitration Tuesday: left-hander Jerry Blevins and outfielders Brandon Moss and Seth Smith.
There were six teams deserving of reaching the College Football Playoff this season. But there were only four spots.
But what if there were more spots?
An expansion of the Playoff field to eight teams has seemed inevitable from the day the four-team system was announced. Four more Playoff games means oodles more TV viewers, which means oodles more dollars.
And then we wouldn't be having all these arguments, either — but that's nonsense because of course we would, trying to figure out who got snubbed from the expanded bracket.
But this season's emphasis on the conference-champion debate might kick the efforts to expand the Playoff into high gear. Just take it from NCAA president Mark Emmert.
Mark Emmert on the CFP: “I'd like to see all five of the conference champions get in the playoff.”— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) December 7, 2016
Now, technically speaking, there are 10 FBS conferences, each of which crowns a champion at the end of every football season. Emmert is obviously referring to the Power Five conferences: the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, Pac-12 and SEC. He might want to pick his words a bit more carefully, considering he represents the other five conferences — the American, Conference USA, the MAC, the Mountain West and the Sun Belt — too, but his point remains understood.
This season has sparked a ton of controversy as the Playoff selection committee opted for the first time to include a team that did not win its conference, Ohio State, and it picked the Buckeyes over the Big Ten champs, Penn State. Plus, Big 12 champion Oklahoma was passed over in favor of non-champion Ohio State, too, actually falling behind another non-champion from the Big Ten, Michigan, in the final Playoff rankings.
With that decision brought the reasonable question of how much a conference championship should matter in getting a team into the final four and competing for a national championship.
The Playoff committee's mission is to pick the country's four best teams, and there aren't many people out there that will argue that Ohio State isn't one of the country's four best teams. But there's something to be said for winning a conference championship because if the Buckeyes can waltz into the Playoff without even playing in the Big Ten title game, why even have a conference championship game — besides, obviously, earning one more night of big-time TV money.
And so the call for an expanded Playoff bracket has reached perhaps its greatest volume in the short time the Playoff has existed. The obvious solution to Power Five conference champions continually being boxed out is to lock in five spots on the bracket for the five conference champions. Then, guarantee a spot for the highest-ranked team from the Group of Five conferences, and you're left with two "at-large" spots that this season would've gone to Ohio State and Michigan, two of the highest-profile programs in the country sure to drive TV viewership in battles against conference-champion Alabama, Clemson, Washington, Penn State and Oklahoma teams. And P.J. Fleck's undefeated Western Michigan squad takes the final slot.
That's quite the field. But if you think it would've solved all this year's problems, you're wrong. Still there would've been outcry that red-hot USC didn't make the field. The Trojans are playing so well that they could very well win the whole thing, despite their three early season losses. That debate over snubs will exist forever, no matter the size of the field, something we see play out each and every season in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
Also, what a damper an expanded bracket would put on the final few weeks of the regular season. Ohio State's game against Michigan, the highest-rated game of the college football season with more than 16 million people watching, would've been effectively meaningless. No matter who won or lost, both teams would've made that eight-team field, right?
Additionally, another round of Playoff football would expand the season to 16 games for some teams. That means more physical demands on student-athletes and a season cutting deep into January, which would impact their educational and time demands.
But again, an expansion of the Playoff bracket has always seemed inevitable. There's too much money to be made, and at the same time fans seem to be all about that idea. People love the postseason for good reason, and the win-or-go-home nature of the NFL playoffs make those games the most-watched sporting events of the year.
Now the NCAA president is chiming in with hopes of an expanded field. So really isn't it just a matter of time?
CSN's Chris Boden and Tracey Myers have the latest on the Blackhawks in the Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland and NW Indiana Honda Dealers.
From an injury standpoint, it's been a tough few weeks for the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks are down two key players in captain Jonathan Toews and goaltender Corey Crawford, and now may be without defenseman Brent Seabrook who sustained an upper-body injury in Tuesday's victory over the Arizona Coyotes.
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While the Blackhawks haven't had much luck on the injury front, their upcoming two opponents are in the same boat.
"You look at the New York Rangers, a very talented team, but this is what every team goes through every season. Your depth gets tested," Myers said.
Check out what else Boden and Myers had to say about the team's upcoming matchups in this week's Honda Road Ahead