PHOENIX -- Brad Fischer remembers the end of the Ken Macha era in Oakland as a long, quiet bus ride.

The A's had just been swept by the World Series-bound Tigers in the 2006 American League Championship Series. Fischer, then Oakland's bullpen coach, found himself sitting on the team bus to the airport between Macha, the manager, and Billy Beane, the general manager.

"This is hard to say, but Billy and 'Mach' just had trouble communicating," Fischer said. "And on that day, neither of them spoke. It was uncomfortable. You had a feeling something was going on."

Two days later, Macha, who had just led the A's to a 93-win regular season record and an AL Division Series win over the Twins, was let go.

"I don't think anyone expects to walk in one day and get fired," Macha said. "But looking back on it, it was probably best for both parties to split."

Now, after two years in broadcasting, Macha has traded his microphone for the more familiar fungo bat. He was hired over the winter to manage the Milwaukee Brewers, another team undergoing a shakeup following a successful season. He'll make his managerial debut on Wednesday, when the Brewers face -- who else? -- the A's.

Macha is certainly not the first new manager to inherit a playoff team. Examples abound from this decade alone and include the Astros, who went from Larry Dierker to Jimy Williams after Houston was swept by Atlanta in the 2000 NLDS. Williams, in turn, was dismissed during the '04 season, when Houston went on to the National League Championship Series under Phil Garner.

It happened in 2002, when Dusty Baker left San Francisco for the Cubs after leading the Giants to the World Series and was replaced by Felipe Alou. Boston's Grady Little was shown the door after taking the Red Sox to Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, the year before Terry Francona led that team to a World Series championship. The Padres played in the NLDS in both 2005 and 2006, but manager Bruce Bochy was replaced by Bud Black for the start of 2007.

Current Dodgers skipper Joe Torre is in the two-timers club. He took over from Buck Showalter in 1995 after Showalter took the Yankees to the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. Torre, in turn, left after the Yankees' ALDS loss to the Indians in 2007 and took over for Little in Los Angeles.

Macha, too, has been on both sides of a sudden change. He inherited an A's team following the 2002 season that had been to the playoffs under Art Howe, only to be on the wrong end of such a move four years later. Now Macha is doing it again in Milwaukee, hoping to stick around longer this time.

"It's kind of interesting that the two jobs I have had were teams with expectations," Macha said. "The team I was with in Oakland, I wasn't hired to learn to manage. I was hired to win right away."

Not that he's complaining.

"Believe me," Macha said. "This is my 36th year in baseball and I know I'm fortunate."

The Brewers are looking to follow up a 90-win season that earned them the National League Wild Card, though the scenario in Milwaukee in 2008 was a bit different than Oakland's in 2006. Brewers skipper Ned Yost was let go with 12 games remaining in the regular season and was replaced by manager Dale Sveum, one of Yost's coaches for the past three seasons.

The Brewers made it to the NLDS under Sveum, who then became the first to be interviewed for the full-time managerial vacancy. But general manager Doug Melvin instead focused on three veteran skippers -- Macha, Willie Randolph and Bob Brenly. He picked the studied, relatively soft-spoken Macha, 58, who in turn hired Randolph to be his bench coach.

He encourages his coaches to offer their opinions and he is pleased that Milwaukee's front office has listened to his own. Macha said he puts a lot of stock in a closer and Melvin delivered all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman. Macha said he wouldn't mind more starting pitching depth and Melvin agreed, bringing in Braden Looper.

"But he never pushed," Melvin said. "He understands the front office and he knows that we'll do our best to put a good team together. Then it's his job to manage it. ... I think he knows in his mind what he wants, but I don't think he overreacts to things right away. He's just steady -- a veteran manager."

"He certainly has a quiet confidence to him, and he's going to put a method and a process in place," added Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio. "I'm big on 'process' and Doug is big on 'process.' One of the things that Doug has been saying is that, with Ken and Willie Randolph, we're going to have a different look at things, and that's good. ... Hopefully, these guys will see something we don't see."

Macha was a utility man during his own playing career, which began when the Pirates made him their sixth-round pick in 1972. He went one round ahead of Randolph, who went on to play 18 Major League seasons to Macha's six.

"I bet that got the scouting director fired," Macha joked.

In Milwaukee he will reimmerse himself in the National League game after spending the past 18 years either coaching or managing in the American League or managing an AL affiliate. He's served as a bullpen, third base and bench coach (plus a brief stint charting pitcher for the Expos) in addition to eight years as a Minor or Major League manager.

Macha said he's ready for the new challenge.

"I've got a smile on my face every morning. Every night, too," he said. "When you're in baseball for 35 years and it kind of gets taken away from you, you appreciate when you get back. There could have never, ever been another chance."