Athletics

Terry Steinbach recalls A's confidence vs. Giants in 1989 World Series

Terry Steinbach recalls A's confidence vs. Giants in 1989 World Series

Editor's Note: Watch Games 1 through 4 of the 1989 World Series between the Giants and A's this week at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports California and streaming here, beginning Monday and wrapping up Thursday.

The A’s famously dominated the 1989 World Series, sweeping the Giants in four games.

Oakland was the heavy favorite, and ultimately delivered an outcome most expected.

But if there was a way for San Francisco to have pulled off an upset -- how would it have been accomplished?

“The one thing that they would have had to figure out, is how to hit the forkball,” former A's catcher Terry Steinbach told NBC Sports California via FaceTime on Friday.

“Dave Stewart, Game 1, good forkball pitcher. Mike Moore, Game 2, again, forkball guy. For whatever reason that particular series, they had a hard time adapting to that particular pitch.”

The A’s were stereotypically known as a slugging team and didn’t disappoint in the Fall Classic, tallying 32 runs in four games.

But the A's pitching, especially their bullpen, is what stifled the Giants.

“Players that played against us, their attitude was like ‘Holy cow, if we get to the sixth inning and we’re behind … forget it,' ” Steinbach said.

“We had [Rick] Honeycutt, the specialty left-handed guy, Gene Nelson the power pitching righty, and once we got to [Dennis] Eckersley, forget it. The game was over.” 

Resignation from the opposition was a common sentiment Steinbach sensed from opposing teams in 1989.

“It was amazing how they didn’t want to play us," Steinbach said. "Even a regular-season game. They knew with the offense we had, but also the pitching we had that it wasn’t going to be a fun series for a lot of teams.”

[RELATED: 1989 A's best Bay Area team ever?]

Oakland felt especially confident in facing a familiar San Francisco group, beginning with spring training that season. The A's and Giants were two of only eight MLB teams that squared off against each other in Arizona that year.

“We played the Giants a lot in spring training, we also had the Bay Bridge [exhibition] Series,” Steinbach said. “We were roughly around 19-0, or 18-1 against them counting those games. When we found out we were playing them [in the World Series], we were familiar with them, is a great way to put it.”
  
Steinbach was an All-Star in 1989, caught all four games of the World Series and had seven RBI against San Francisco.

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.”

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

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.”

[RELATED: Luzardo's outing shows A's have something special]

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.”