Athletics

How A's Dave Stewart sought to help community after 1989 earthquake

How A's Dave Stewart sought to help community after 1989 earthquake

Programming Note: Watch all four games of the 1989 World Series between the Giants and A's this week at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports California and streaming here, continuing Wednesday and wrapping up Thursday.

In Northern California, dates don’t get more significant than October 17, 1989.

Just moments before Game 3 of MLB’s World Series was to get underway in San Francisco, the magnitude 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake struck at 5:04pm.
 
Departing Candlestick Park that night feels like yesterday for Oakland native Dave Stewart, who was still wearing his full A’s road uniform out the door.
 
“I got in the car, knew we couldn’t go across the Bay Bridge,” Stewart said. “I was actually surprised we couldn’t go across the San Mateo Bridge. We had to circle all the way down to the Dumbarton.”
 
In total, it was a six-hour trek from San Francisco to Emeryville. He got off the freeway in Hayward and took surface streets northbound through Oakland, to get a first-hand account of the destroyed Cypress structure. 
 
The pancaked portion of Interstate 880’s double-deck structure in West Oakland became a signature visual of the devastation.
 
“I could see from the street, that the freeway had collapsed,” Stewart recalled. “I got out of the car, and where my sister lived was pretty much where everything was happening, with the police officers and fire department. People that were trying to bring relief.”
 
Stewart stayed on location, still in his A’s uniform, figuring out how he could be of help. After a pit-stop at home several hours later, the eventual World Series MVP realized returning with food and drinks for the first responders would be his calling.
 
“That ended up being my mission until we went to Arizona,” Stewart said.
 
Stewart eventually went to bed around 10 a.m. the next morning. Several days later when MLB announced the World Series would ultimately be resumed and completed, A’s Manager Tony LaRussa took his team to Arizona.
 
“We went there to get our minds focused on baseball,” Stewart shared. “To make sure that we stayed in baseball shape.  Pitchers and hitting with the timing, we played simulated games. It was competitive.”
 
That competition not only kept the A’s sharp, but it also brought them closer during a time of adversity and uncertainty across the Bay Area.

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“Difficult as it was with everything going on at home, you don’t want to lose your edge,” Stewart said. “You don’t want to give up your edge.”
 
The A’s certainly didn’t, sweeping San Francisco in four games. 

A's coach Ryan Christenson says apparent Nazi salute was unintentional

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A's coach Ryan Christenson says apparent Nazi salute was unintentional

A's bench coach Ryan Christenson said he "unintentionally" gave a Nazi salute during Oakland's celebratory handshake line after Thursday's win over the Texas Rangers.

"I made a mistake and will not deny it," Christenson said in a statement released by the team. "Today in the dugout I greeted players with a gesture that was offensive. In the world today of [COVID-19] I adapted our elbow bump, which we do after wins, to create some distance with the players. My gesture unintentionally resulted in a racist and horrible salute that I do not believe in. What I did is unacceptable, and I deeply apologize."

The NBC Sports California broadcast showed Christenson raising his right arm with his palm facing down while A's closer Liam Hendriks approached.  Hendriks quickly grabbed Christenson's arm, bending it at the elbow for the coach's "elbow bump" celebration, which he said is done due to MLB's coronavirus safety protocols. Christenson then turned around and repeated the initial gesture.

"No, no straight arm, you have to bend your elbow," Christenson said Hendriks told him in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser, referring to the coach's usual celebration.

"Oh, I see what you mean, oh no, it's like 'Heil Hitler,' " Christenson said after he turned, in his and Hendriks' recounting to Slusser.

The salute, typically followed by exclamations of "Heil Hitler" or "Sieg Heil," was a compulsory tribute to Adolf Hitler within the Nazi Party and, later, all of Germany under the Nazis' rule from 1933 through 1945. Still used by neo-Nazis and white supremacists long after the end of World War II, the Anti-Defamation League says the salute is "the most common white supremacist hand sign in the world."

The A's said in a statement that they were "deeply sorry this happened on our playing field."

"We do not support or condone this gesture, or the racist sentiment behind it," the A's said in a statement. "This is incredibly offensive, especially in these times when we as a [club] and many others are working to expose and address racial inequities in our country."

Before the A's released the pair of statements, Christenson told Slusser that he "wasn't doing that intentionally" and that "I just blacked out, my mind wasn't there and I spaced out."

"I'm cringing inside picturing myself," Christenson told Slusser. "Of course I'm sorry for it -- it's like standing there with my middle finger up. Anyone should know better."

A's Khris Davis reveals adjustment that led to production at plate

A's Khris Davis reveals adjustment that led to production at plate

Whatever he’s doing appears to be working.

Khris Davis proved his recent adjustment at the plate is paying dividends, as he tallied his second multi-hit game of the season during the A’s 6-4 sweep over the Texas Rangers on Thursday.

Davis said the coaching staff and teammates are to thank for the recent surge -- particularly hitting coach Darren Bush, who first suggested an alteration with Davis' hands.

“Yeah, I just put my hands back and further up a little and it’s been helping me be more accurate to the ball,” Davis said after the game. “I’m finding less swings and misses and a little better contact.”

“It’s all pretty comfortable right away, usually when you have to make an adjustment and you feel it click, you just run with that and don’t look back so it’s brought some comfort in the box so I’m going to keep working with it,” Davis said.

Davis went 2-for-3 on Thursday, driving in two runs in the 4th inning to break the game open.

“I think it’s a positioning thing, just having them further back -- less room to go,” he added. “They’re just already ready to fire and it’s been working.”

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Davis wants to be the everyday designated hitter, but that hasn’t necessarily been the case with his lack of production. Mark Canha has been taking over the DH spot in some of the outings, but it’s something Davis is ready to earn back.

“It is what it is,” Davis said. “And, I just have to capitalize on my opportunities that I do get. It’s s--tty, but I’ve been here before, I’ve lost my job before a couple times and I’ve had to battle back and this is nothing new to me.”

It turns out the oblique injury Davis suffered last season when he ran into the wall in May ended up leaving a bigger mark than just on his skin. 

"I think when I got hurt, I had been getting set up in a different way,” Davis said. “My body just wasn’t adjusting to that injury and just when I put my hands further back it just freed things up.”

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Oh, and his teammates are helping him a lot too.  

“A lot of good teammates, they know what it’s like to go through a struggle and they just kept reminding me that I could hit all around, I don’t have to hit a home run or whatever, but they constantly say that I’m a good hitter, I’m [not just] a power hitter.”