Programming Note: Watch Game 4 of the 1989 World Series between the Giants and A's on Thursday night at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports California and streaming here.
Dennis Eckersley is infamously connected to one of baseball’s biggest home runs.
Game 1 of the 1988 World Series saw a hobbling and pinch-hitting Kirk Gibson give his Dodgers victory with one ninth-inning swing of the bat in Los Angeles.
Oakland ended up losing the series.
“I’ve never moved on,” Eckersley said laughing and recalling the moment. “Guess what, you have to accept that. I don’t like it. And luckily we won in ’89, that helped a lot.”
That’s why “Eck” recording 1989’s final out, and his own history in San Francisco, was sweet and specific redemption.
“That, for me, made up for so many things,” Eckersley recalled. “To be on the mound, and get the last out … in your glove, and the fist pump. That’s the fist pump that every player wants, what a dream come true.”
It was Eckersley’s only save needed that series, after recording three against Toronto in 1989’s ALCS.
But prior to that, even dedicated baseball fans forget what an uphill battle the entire season was. Oakland were favorites among MLB, but dealt with injuries to key players like Jose Canseco, Walt Weiss, and Eckersley.
“I missed from the end of May, to the All-Star break,” Eckersley recalled about his shoulder injury. “That plays to how much depth we had, really nobody skipped a beat. The offense was good all year long.”
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Ultimately the A’s swept the Giants in 1989, in a World Series that certainly wasn’t guaranteed to be completed after the Loma Prieta earthquake preceding Game 3.
“That’s why we were so fortunate to get it done,” Eckersley said. “No champagne, no celebration, who cares? There was devastation in the Bay Area, that [baseball] was secondary. We were just lucky to get it in.”
Like most youngsters attending a summer camp, A's pitching prospect A.J. Puk wanted to make a good impression upon his arrival.
But no one was ready for Puk's appearance Sunday.
The prized left-hander showed up to the Oakland Coliseum for the A's Summer Camp workout minus his trademark blonde hair.
Yes, Puk got a haircut. Not just a trim. It's all gone.
Teammate Sean Manaea couldn't believe the rookie cut all his hair off.
Sometimes, everyone needs a fresh look, including Puk, who was known for his flowing hair.
Hair or no hair, the A's are expecting big things from Puk this season. The 2016 first-round draft pick will compete for a spot in Oakland's rotation. If Puk and fellow pitching prospect Jesus Luzardo win starting jobs, the A's could have one of the best rotations in baseball.
[RELATED: Manaea might wear mask during starts]
Manager Bob Melvin used Puk out of the bullpen last season, bringing him into 10 games. The 25-year-old posted a 3.18 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings pitched.
But now, Puk, without his hair, will look to help the A's win the World Series by being a part of their rotation.
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With baseball activities picking back up over the weekend, we've seen most players wearing a mask during drills at ballparks around the country.
A's starter Sean Manaea is considering taking the precautionary measure a step further.
While speaking with media in Oakland on Sunday, the left-handed pitcher admitted he's considering wearing a mask during his starts this season.
While MLB isn't forcing players to wear a mask while playing, Manaea's action would go a long way to protecting himself and his A's teammates.
Masks have become a hot-button subject around the country, but baseball players know that they are walking a fine line between playing the 2020 MLB season and having it canceled because too many players contracted the coronavirus.
Even with the season cut down from 162 to 60 games, the A's have high expectations this year, and Manaea's presence on the field will go a long way to determining if they can achieve their goal of winning the World Series or if they will fall short again.
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Manaea, 28, is expected to be one of the leaders of the A's rotation, along with veteran Mike Fiers. Last season, Manaea pitched in only five games after recovering from left shoulder surgery. But in those five starts, he was dominant, to the tune of a 1.21 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 29 2/3 innings.
The A's need that version of Manaea this season, and if it means wearing a mask during his start, it's a move he's willing to consider.