Posts Tagged ‘1989 Oakland A’s’

Being as surprised as I think most A’s fans are about the team winning the division in a 2012 season that was supposed to be at best a .500 showing, I’m going to celebrate by lining up the ’89 A’s against the ’12 A’s on a few statistical measures. Is there a better way to celebrate, given that this is a blog about the ’89 A’s?

1989: four players with double-digit homer totals: McGwire, 33, Dave Henderson, 15, Parker, 22, Canseco, 17. The A’s ranked sixth in the A.L. in homers, with 127.
2012: eight players with double-digit homer totals: Reddick, 32, Cespedes, 23, Moss, 21, Carter 16, Gomes, 18, Crisp, 11, Smith, 14, Inge, 11. The A’s ranked sixth in the A.L. in homers, with 195.
1989: 157 steals, second in the league. Rickey with 52 and Lansford with 37. The A’s were caught stealing 55 times, fourth in the A.L.: Rickey was caught 6 times, Lansford 15 times, and Phillips 8 times.
2012: 122 steals, fifth in the league. Crisp with 39. The A’s were caught stealing 32 times, tenth in the A.L.: Pennington was caught 6 times to lead the team.

1989: 562 walks, fourth in the league: McGwire with 83, Rickey with 70 (in 85 games), Phillips with 58, Canseco with 23.
2012: 550 walks, fourth in the league: Reddick with 55, no one else with more than 50.
1989: .331 on base percentage, third in the A.L., led by Rickey’s .425 and Lansford’s .398
2012: .310 on base percentage, twelfth in the A.L., led by Cespedes’ .356 and Moss’ .358.

1989: .381 slugging percentage, tenth in the league, led by McGwire’s .467, Canseco’s .542, Rickey’s .438.
2012: .404 slugging percentage, ninth in the league, led by Carter, .514, Cespedes, .505, and Moss, .596.

1989: 712 runs scored, fourth in the league, including Lansford’s 81, Rickey’s 77, Hendu’s 77, and McGwire’s 74.
2012: 698 runs scored, ninth in the league, including Reddick’s 85, Cespedes’ 70, and Crisp’s 68.
The 2012 A’s struck out 1387 times, the most in the A.L., setting a new A’s “record”; the 1989 A’s struck out 855 times, ninth in the A.L.

1989 pitching: Team era of 3.09, first in the A.L. led by Mike Moore’s 2.61, Bob Welch’s 3, Dave Stewart’s 3.32, and, among the relievers, Eckersley’s 1.56, Todd Burns’s 2.24, and Honeycutt’s 2.35.
2012 pitching: Team era of 3.50, second in the A.L., led by A.J. Griffin’s 3.06 and Brandon McCarthy’s 3.24, and, among the relievers, Ryan Cook’s 2.09, Jerry Blevins’ 2.48, and Grant Balfour’s 2.53.

1989: 3 complete game shutouts, all of them Moore’s, to rank first in the A.L. 17 complete games, 8 by Stewart and 6 by Moore.
2012: 0 complete game shutouts, and only one complete game, by Tommy Milone.
1989: Saves: 57 for the team, 33 by Eckersley, 12 by Honeycutt, 8 by Burns
2012: Saves: 47 for the team, 24 by Balfour, 14 by Cook.

1989: 930 team strikeouts, including 172 by Moore, 155 by Stewart, 137 by Welch, and 55 by Eckersley.
2012: 1136 team strikeouts, including Jarrod Parker’s 140 and Tommy Milone’s 137.

The 2012 A’s were shut out 16 times, and shut out the opposition 13 times. The 1989 A’s were shut out 5 times, and shut out the opposition 20 times.

1989 fielding: errors: 129, sixth in the A.L., fielding percentage of .979
2012 fielding: errors: 111, third in the A.L., fielding percentage of .982

Finally, this is the sixth time the Bay Area versions of the Giants and A’s have both been in the postseason: along with ’89, it happened in 1971, 2000, ’02, and ’03. ’89, of course, is the only time both teams have won at least one playoff series.

There are not a lot of other points of similarity between ’89 and ’12, but one is that in ’89 the Giants’ Dave Dravecky broke his left arm on the mound in Montreal in August; this year, the A’s Brandon McCarthy had a batted ball come fairly close to killing him on the mound in Oakland on September 5. Two ugly, frightening in-game injuries suffered by Bay Area pitchers. And, of course, the ’89 A’s and the ’12 A’s and Giants have all been tainted by steroids. Bob Melvin was not an ’89 Giant: he left San Francisco after the ’88 season, and was an Oriole in ’89. Some personnel on the ’89 A’s and Giants are now with the 2012 A’s or Giants, namely Gallego and Curt Young as coaches with the A’s.

In ’89, the A’s were 99-63; the Giants were 92-70: in 2012, both teams were 94-68.

In the wake of hearing about the death of Pat Neshek’s infant son as the A’s were celebrating winning the A.L. West, I should add that Dave Dravecky re-broke his left arm at Candlestick as the Giants celebrated beating the Cubs in the NLCS, and, as noted elsewhere on the blog, Jose Uribe’s wife died in May 1988, two days after prematurely delivering a boy.

Also, here are a few other items about the ’89 A’s:
Team salary: $16.3 million

Players you might not remember as ’89 A’s: Storm Davis, Greg Cadaret, Eric Plunk, Felix Jose, Billy Beane, Ron Hassey, Glenn Hubbard, Ken Phelps

Average team age: 29.3: oldest regular Parker, 38; youngest regular McGwire, 25
Average age of pitchers: 29.8; oldest pitcher Eckersley, 34; youngest pitcher Burns, 25. The starters were 27 to 32.
Three A’s pitched more than 200 innings, including Stewart’s 257 2/3rd, Moore’s 241 2/3rd, and Welch’s 209 2/3rd innings.
Notable season streaks and stats: the A’s were 10-2 against the Indians, 9-3 against the Yankees, 9-4 against the Mariners, and 5-7 against the Red Sox, their lone losing record against a team. They were 29-18 in one-run games, 5-10 in extra-inning games, 18-8 in April, and 13-14 in June.

The A’s were only 2.5 games ahead of the Royals as late as September 20.
The A’s closed the season on a 26-14 streak, to run away with the West, after being tied for first during three straight days in mid-August. The A’s were 11-13 from the end of May to June 23, the day after Rickey’s first game, when they were 44—29, then were 46-32 on June 30 and 52-36 at the All-Star break.
The A’s were 8-1 in the ’89 playoffs. The A’s had 20 shutouts, and were shutout 5 times. They scored 10-plus runs 8 times.

Player on the ’89 A’s who you don’t remember being so good: Mike Moore. Don’t you remember Mike Moore?
Best players on the ’89 A’s (based on what they did in ’89): Rickey Henderson, Canseco, Lansford, McGwire, Mike Moore, Stewart, Eckersley, Honeycutt, Todd Burns
Tony Phillips might be the most underrated ’89 A: for his career, he scored 1300 runs, had 2023 hits and a career on-base percentage of .374.

Award voting and the 1989 A’s
Cy Young: Stewart 2nd, Moore 3rd, Eckersley tied for 6th
Manager of the Year: LaRussa 3rd
MVP: Eckersley 5th, Henderson 9th, Parker 11th, Stewart 14th, Lansford 17th, Moore 20th, McGwire tied for 25th
All-Stars: Steinbach, Stewart, Moore, McGwire, Canseco
Two of the ’89 A’s, Rickey Henderson and Dennis Eckersley, have joined the Hall of Fame, with Parker, McGwire, Canseco, Welch, and Stewart I think the only other A’s to get HOF votes. Well, Phillips got one vote in 2005.


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When the A’s finished off their sweep of the Giants on October 28, Kim Boatman of the San Jose Mercury News was there to cover the action:

“Finally, after a season that stretched next to forever, the A’s claimed what they believed was supposed to be theirs in 1988. They held the Giants at bay 9-6 to complete a tidy four- game sweep and win the 1989 World Series.

This Series will be linked forever with the tragedy that accompanied the Oct. 17 earthquake and remembered for the nine days baseball was put on hold. And the A’s paid their respects to the Bay Area by sipping beer instead of spraying champagne after the game.

But nothing could diminish their exultation, which began after Tony Phillips scooped up Brett Butler’s ball after it glanced off Mark McGwire’s glove, flipping to reliever Dennis Eckersley at first to end the game.

Long after the game had ended, Eckersley was hanging onto the glove and ball and the sheer exhilaration of the moment.

”I just started thinking to myself before the last guy got up, ‘This is the out we’ve been waiting for. And you can’t get carried away,’ ” Eckersley said. ”I’ll always remember last year, but I’ll remember this year more. You don’t always get another chance.”

”I don’t know if I’m going to be here again,” McGwire said. “I’m going to savor it. I hope people respect us. If we don’t have respect, I don’t know what will earn it. I hope they say we’re a great team.

”I’d like to see it in the headlines tomorrow, ‘The A’s were great in ’89.’ Not many teams are called great teams that never won a World Series. I hope they put that tab on us.”

The A’s demanded respect from their neighbors, who never held a lead in four games. And they received their due afterward, when the Giants were still shaking heads and wondering what had hit them.

”The A’s were awesome. I’ve been in this league a long time and I can’t remember playing against too many teams as deep as they are,” the Giants’ Ken Oberkfell said. “You hate to lose, but it’s hard to feel bad when a team plays as well as they do.”

”It seems like everything came together right for this moment,” Phillips said. “We were stunned after we lost that first game (in ’88). . . . We got hit by a Tyson right. . . . This season, we battled. We just battled.”

Nothing came as easily this season as this Series did. The A’s took repeated hits — the loss of Jose Canseco for one-half season, Eckersley for six weeks and shortstop Walt Weiss for two months because of injuries — and forged ahead. So, when the Series ended so abruptly, they seemed caught by surprise.

”I thought we needed to win convincingly for the Bay Area to say we’re a better team. I thought we were,” Eckersley said. “I still thought we needed to do it convincingly. I was surprised that we did that. I’m glad we did, but I was surprised that we did. The Giants are a good team. I didn’t expect to win that easily. I don’t think anybody did.”

It was Henderson who had turned the ignition Saturday, popping a homer over the left-field fence on a 2-and-0 count to open the game. He became the 15th player to open a Series game with a homer and the first since Lenny Dykstra of the New York Mets did so in Game 3 in 1986.

And it looked all but finished in the top of the second, leaving the A’s to wait nervously through 7 1/2 more innings.

It was one of those troublesome Hendersons who began the onslaught. Dave Henderson opened the second with a double down the left-field line. Henderson advanced on Steinbach’s fly to right. Phillips grounded out to second. Then, it was hard finding fault with Craig’s logic when he had starter Don Robinson issue an intentional walk to shortstop Walt Weiss. Waiting on deck was Moore, and the sum total of his major league hitting experience was one at-bat in 1987, when he made an out.

Moore swung and missed twice, then drove the ball over Butler’s head in center field. Butler gave chase, but the ball barely eluded his outstretched glove. Moore went into second standing up with a two-run double and the first base hit by an American League pitcher in the World Series since Baltimore’s Tim Stoddard singled on Oct. 13, 1979.

Rickey Henderson singled to left, and third-base coach Rene Lachemann sent Moore loping home. He scored, Henderson went to second on the throw and Robinson departed.

The Giants, a team that made a living off comebacks, stubbornly clung to life. And they came darned close to scaring the daylights out of the A’s and staging one of the great comebacks in Series history.

A’s Manager Tony La Russa lifted starting pitcher Moore after six innings with the A’s leading 8-2. And Gene Nelson, who owned a 54.00 ERA in the Series after failing in the ninth during the Giants’ four-run rally in a 13-7 loss in Game 3, did it again. He walked Terry Kennedy, and Greg Litton followed with a two-run homer. Nelson got Donell Nixon to fly out to right, and left-hander Rick Honeycutt came in.

Pinch hitter Candy Maldonado tripled to right on a ball that Canseco perhaps could have caught. Butler followed with a run- scoring double to left and pinch hitter Robby Thompson’s single made it 8-6. Honeycutt got Will Clark to fly out to right, and Todd Burns came in to face Kevin Mitchell.

The A’s lead looked awfully precarious when Mitchell sent a towering fly to left, but Rickey Henderson caught it on the warning track.

The A’s added insurance when reliever Steve Bedrosian walked in a run in the top of the eighth.”

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Rickey said this about being traded from the Yankees to the A’s on June 22: “It was in my best interest to approve the deal. Oakland was the only place I would accept a trade. My wife wanted to be in Oakland, but I wanted to stay in New York.

”I felt it was time. There were rumors that I’d be traded, and then they came to me and asked if I would take a trade. Oakland was the only place I knew I’d like to go.

“I knew that if we didn’t come to an agreement by the All-Star break I’d be a free agent anyway, and we had the opportunity to do it now, so I decided to go back home.”

A’s General Manager Sandy Alderson: “We expect great things from him, both for the rest of the season and in the future. He’s extremely excited. We did not make the trade with the short term in mind. We have somebody who is enthusiastic about coming back to Oakland.

He agreed to come to the A’s without agreeing to anything, without talking to me, without talking to Tony (La Russa), without talking to anyone.”

La Russa: “The reaction I’m getting from the clubhouse is that he is a force that is going to help us win ballgames.”

Rickey had been in a slump with the Yankees. He said: “It’s just a matter of time before I started to hit better. I’ve been hitting the ball hard, but right at people. I got off to a slow start but I knew it would get better.”

Yankee Manager Dallas Green: “I hated to give up Rickey. He played very hard and busted his tail. But this trade was for the betterment of the Yankees. We desperately needed pitching. It’s been our Achilles heel.”

Dave Righetti, the San Jose native and Yankees pitcher: “Before he got here, we were a good team. When he got here in ’85, we became a damn good team right away. He had that try-to-get-me-out arrogance. Our whole lineup was like that last year. I hope he doesn’t come back and beat us. But you know he will someday.”

The Yankees were actually trying to trade Rickey to the Giants, but Syd Thrift, their senior vice president, said Henderson didn’t approve the deal. Thrift: “I met with Rickey last week, and it was obvious then that he was interested in going to only one other team. I had put it out of my mind that he would go anywhere. Then Monday morning, they called.”

Here’s the front page of the S.F. Chronicle on June 23, ‘89, with a picture of Rickey saying goodbye to ex-Yankees teammate Mike Pagliarulo.


You can also read Mike’s thoughts on Rickey, the trade, the A’s, and the Giants. And here’s the S.F. Chronicle Sporting Green front page announcing the trade for Rickey.

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The ’89 A’s were the least powerful team of the A’s dynasty, and the injury to Canseco’s wrist that kept him out for the first half of the season was much of the reason why. On March 8, David Bush of the Chronicle described Jim Abbott’s spring debut and the last at-bat Canseco had before the wrist troubles emerged:

“The atmosphere at Phoenix Municipal Stadium yesterday more closely resembled that of a World Series game than the A’s fifth exhibition game of the spring.

The game’s 90-degree weather and the intimacy of the ballpark were springlike enough, but a throng of national media on the field before the California Angels whipped the A’s, 9-4, was worthy of the postseason.

The reason for all the attention was Jim Abbott, the Angels’ remarkable rookie pitcher who was born without a right hand.

Abbott, the Angels’ first-round draft choice last June out of the University of Michigan and a member of the 1988 U.S. Olympic team, came on in the fourth inning and left in the sixth, giving up one run that wasn’t his fault and earning the victory.

Abbott had walked two hitters and had two outs when Canseco came to the plate. On the 1-2 pitch, Abbott dipped an inside slider onto Canseco’s fists and the A.L. MVP waved at it.

“I knew I had a base open but I didn’t want to give into him,” said Abbott. “It was a thrill to face Jose Canseco. That’s what this game is all about. I know it is early in spring training, but for me that was a pressure situation.”

“He’s legit. He’s got a good fastball and above average slider,” said Canseco. “I am just trying to concentrate on the ball. It (Abbott’s handicap) had nothing to do with my at-bat.”

On March 23, Bush reported: “It took two weeks to get Jose Canseco into the lineup and just two swings to remove him.

The A’s right fielder, making his first start since March 7, felt more pain in his tender left wrist and left yesterday’s game against the Giants in the first inning.

San Francisco eventually won the game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, 6-4, in 11 innings.

Canseco has felt pain in the wrist since the beginning of spring training. After striking out against the Angels’ Jim Abbott on March 7, Canseco’s duty has been limited. The A’s said the idleness was merely a precaution, and once the pain disappeared completely, Canseco would have sufficient time to prepare for the regular season.

With 11 days remaining until the opener, time is running out and Canseco has batted just nine times in spring-training games.

“Even though I haven’t played very much I saw the ball well today,” said Canseco. “But I do need to be in games and face some live pitching to get my timing back.”

Canseco took part in a simulated game on Tuesday, and said afterward that his wrist was a little stiff but that he would be able to play yesterday.

But when fouling off pitcher Dennis Cook’s second pitch on a check-swing, Canseco said he felt sharp pain in his wrist. “It hurt, but I thought I could play through it.”

After taking the next pitch for a ball, Canseco swung and missed at a high fastball. At that point he walked away from the plate and into the clubhouse. “On the second one the pain was even worse, and I told the bench that I should come out,” said Canseco.

His wrist wrapped in ice, Canseco said the pain was worse than it had been all spring. “It doesn’t hurt when I move it up and down, but it does when I move it sideways, which is the motion you use to hit.”

Canseco said he has had no previous problems with his wrist. His twin brother, Ozzie, broke the hamate bone in his left wrist early this spring.

“It’s just coincidence,” said Canseco, who paused, rolled his eyes skyward and said, “but then again, you never know.” Canseco seemed hardly distraught with his ill fortune. “I can’t do anything about it,” he said. “If I get frustrated and angry, that might only make it worse.”

In mid-July, Canseco finally came back, in an 11-7 win over the Blue Jays in SkyDome, in the teams’ first game following the All-Star break. He hit a home run and a single, driving in three runs and stealing a base.

Canseco had missed the A’s first 88 games of the season, and his return overshadow the equally anticipated return of reliever Dennis Eckersley, who pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning in his first appearance since May 27. Canseco’s third RBI of the game, coming on a ninth-inning single, increased the A’s lead to four runs and deprived Eckersley of a chance for a save.

Jose, after the game: “I was a little nervous, and I just tried to keep it simple,” agreed Canseco, whose rehabilitation assignment with Double-A Huntsville (Ala.) produced an undistinguished record of four hits in 23 at-bats. “”I didn’t do that well in the minor leagues, so I just brainwashed myself into thinking I had been hitting. Then it seemed like yesterday that I was hitting line drives.”

Meanwhile, Eckersley said of his return: “I felt all right. I’m glad it wasn’t a one-run game, because you don’t know how you are going to do.

“It is hard to be confident if you haven’t done it in a long time. I thought I was so-so. One pitch would be good, and the next not so good. But as long as it doesn’t hurt, I will be all right.”

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June 28

You could credit it to the loss of Eckersley, the prolonged absence of Canseco, maybe even the knee injury Walt Weiss was still suffering from, maybe even something else, but June was a dismal month for the A’s: a 13-14 record. They bottomed out this day, in the Twin Cities, by managing no runs on seven hits and three walks in a 2-0 loss to Frank Viola, who would get traded to the Mets within a month.

What went wrong? Carney Lansford twice got caught stealing after leading off innings with singles. Dave Stewart committed an error and threw a wild pitch, and Steinbach contributed a passed ball-none of which actually produced runs for the Twins, but they couldn’t have helped the A’s. The A’s got one or two runners on in every inning through the seventh, but it was stringing together singles and walks with no result. Maybe if this hadn’t been one of the five games with Oakland in which Rickey didn’t get on base, things would have been different.

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This is the first of a few entries describing specific games during the ’89 season that I’ll be putting up on this blog. This game was a 4-0 win over the Yankees:

Pitchers Todd Burns, Rick Honeycutt, and Eric Plunk put together a very, very nearly perfect game. Rickey, still with the Yankees, beats out a bounder to Carney Lansford leading off the fourth. Sax erases the blemish on the record by sharply grounding to Gallego, who runs to the bag and then throws to first. That’s all, folks: Burns had struck out Jessie Barfield in the second. Before and after that, grounders, pop-ups, and fly balls suffice to keep the Yankees off the bases in fearsome Yankee Stadium. Doesn’t it seem reasonable to assume that this is the closest anyone’s ever come to perfection against the Yankees?  Winfield missed the entire ‘89 season, but Rickey, Mattingly, Barfield, and Sax are all in the lineup, so this isn’t the A’s happening to pick up a cheap one off second-stringers. Your final score is 4-0.

Carney Lansford did everything he could on Henderson’s ground ball, but his desperate throw to first was wide and late and probably beside the point, given Henderson’s speed.

”It was a tough play,” said the Athletics’ catcher, Ron Hassey, who had three hits. ”But it was a good pitch he made. No regrets there.”

Afterward, Tony La Russa said: “Amazing, the kid has really been remarkable,”  referring to Burns, who was making his first start of the year. “He hit a lot of great spots. Heck, the only thing that slowed the game up was me going to the bullpen. A no-hitter, and he stays. But he got to the point where the longer he goes, the bigger chance he has to hurt himself.”


David Bush of the S.F. Chronicle added:

“It was no bunch of slouches Burns faced in his first appearance at Yankee
Stadium. The Yankees had collected at least 10 hits in five straight games and improved their team average 11 points.

Burns did not seem to notice. La Russa said that Burns’ fastball, in the 86-
miles-per-hour range, is more rapid than opposing teams believe. And he has a quality slider and a deadly curve, which he uses in situations when most pitchers eschew breaking balls.

“He was just able to hit the mitt wherever I put it,” said catcher Ron Hassey.
“Almost every pitch he threw was consistently good.”

“I didn’t feel that good at the beginning, and I think I might have gotten
away with some pitches early,” said Burns. “As the game went on, I was able to get a rhythm going.”

Only third baseman Carney Lansford, who had to glove a couple of well-hit balls on abrupt hops, had to make any sort of difficult play on Burns’ behalf.

Ironically, the Yankees’ one hit was also handled by Lansford, who charged
Henderson’s slowly hit ball, grabbed it with his bare hand and missed getting Henderson at first by barely a step. Henderson is probably the only player in a New York uniform who could have beaten the throw.”

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I recently interviewed Mike Pagliarulo, starting third baseman for the Yankees from 1985 to mid-1989. The interview was primarily prompted by this picture on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle of him and Rickey Henderson embracing after hearing of Rickey’s trade to the A’s:

I talked with Mike about his response to learning that news, what he thought of the A’s teams of 1988 and 1989, and also his memories of playing against the Giants later in 1989, after he’d been traded to the Padres in July.

Q: To start off, I figured I’d ask if you remember the near-perfect game the A’s threw against the Yankees on May 26 in New York?
A: No, I don’t. What was that?

Q: The one guy to get on was Rickey Henderson, on an infield single, and then the very next hitter, Steve Sax maybe, hit into a double play. That was the only runner of the game.
A: Huh. That’s funny, I don’t know that game at all. We had an injury, someone-Winfield-was out with a bad back in 1989. That year my elbow was a mess. I tried to play, but it wasn’t fully recovered.

Q: What was your response when you learned of Rickey Henderson’s trade to the A’s?
A: In New York, we had all come up with each other in the Yankees’ tremendous minor league system. Played on the same teams, winning teams. And some guys from the organization, they had played with Rickey for 5 years. He was one of the guys, a great teammate, a phenomenal athlete, so it was hard to see people like him go.

Q: I was reading through some articles from the time, where the Yankees management was saying that Rickey’s legs were going, he wasn’t that great a player anymore. He’d been struggling a bit with the Yankees, but did you guys have any sense of him running down?
A: No, I wouldn’t say he was running down. When you play with a good teammate, you never want to see them go, whether they’re going well or not. You rely on each other day and day out, so you never expect someone to be traded. You never think in those terms. Rickey was a real impact player, he helped the whole lineup.

Baseball is the ultimate team game, your teammates affect how you play offense and defense, what kind of pitches you get to hit-look at the Red Sox this year, J.D. Drew batting ahead of Manny Ramirez, and how well he did. There are so many variables, it’s hard to say which one it is that impacts whether you do well.

Q: What was your impression of Greg Cadaret and Eric Plunk? Because when I went through those articles about the trade I saw Cadaret saying that at least in New York he’d still be able to talk about hunting and fishing with Plunk in the bullpen. Were they out of place in the Bronx?
A: [laughs] Well, some players don’t feel very comfortable in New York. It can be a rude awakening for some players, they’re out of place. Some, they adapt, but I was always real comfortable there, didn’t have to get used to New York.

Q: What, for you, were the biggest reasons why the A’s were so good in ’88 and ’89?
A: The A’s, they had those two big guys (McGwire and Canseco) coming up. I was talking to La Russa one day not long after he got hired by the A’s. When was that, 1986 or so? (It was.) And he had a pretty good plan for what to do with the team. They had Ron Hassey, a good friend and teammate with the Yankees.

On the A’s, everyone knew their role, what their job was, and that’s a compliment to La Russa. He ran a pretty tight ship, everyone had a place they fit into, and there was a really good mix of young and old players. Every good team I’ve been on has had that characteristic. It’s a prerequisite for winning. And they had really good coaches.

Lansford, he was a steady, steady, steady player, a real tough out. Stewart, I don’t remember how I did against. But like he was like Clemens: the ultimate challenge for a hitter. You want that so much-that challenge, and the great ones, they’re great challenges. The A’s were very prepared, they always gave their best game.

In ’89, we had a coach, Dallas Green, we went outside the organization to get him, and people said, “this guy’s not a Yankee”-he wasn’t Billy (Martin) or Pinella or Yogi Berra. So it was different: he had some trouble adjusting, it wasn’t easy there.

Q: And then you got traded to the Padres not long after Rickey went to Oakland. What did you remember from playing against the Giants late that year? You guys in San Diego were running right alongside the Giants for the division title.
A: I remember Matt Williams having a great year, and that guy in left field, Mitchell, just everything they had (offensively). You’d look up and boom! there’s the ball flying out of the yard. The Padres had a tremendous team, one of the most talented sets of players I’ve seen. We had Jack Clark, Bip Roberts, Alomar, Santiago, Gwynn, but we were missing one pitcher.

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