There is more than just a little bit of those old rollicking world champion Oakland A's of the early '70s in this year's team—and there could have been even more. Reggie Jackson is back, not as a brash young slugger but as a middle-aged DH making his triumphant last tour of the league. Joe Rudi is back, not as the outfielder but as the coach of this year's outfielders. Dave Duncan is back, not as the fiery young blond catcher but as the pitching coach. And Vida Blue would have been back had he not elected to retire, reportedly in the face of new problems with drugs. For that matter, even manager Tony La Russa and coach Rene Lacheman had cups of coffee with the old A's. Now all these old-timers have to do is instill some of that raffish love of the game in their more sedate younger charges.
Blue's melancholy departure left La Russa grumbling to himself, because this team could certainly use a little pitching. But elsewhere, the A's look good. The infield is alive with young talent, particularly at first and third. La Russa would like to give adequate playing time to two huge rookies—6'4", 215-pound first baseman Rob Nelson and 6'5", 225-pound third baseman Mark McGwire.
Last year's large phenom, Rookie of the Year Jose Canseco, will try to add to his legend. Says Rudi, "You look at Jose and wonder how God could have given anybody so much talent. I haven't seen anybody like him since...well...since I first saw Reggie Jackson." Jackson? He's the old fella down at the end of the bench.
Learning to hit lefties; since '84, he has batted .205, .271 and .300 vs. southpaws.
Ambivalent about domes: .311 in Kingdome, .217 in Metrodome.
The only righthanded batter to win AL batting title (1981) in the last 15 years.
22 of his homers came with runners on, tying Dave Parker for major league lead.
Had highest walk ratio in majors (min. 502 plate appearances) with 92 BBs in 517 PAs.
Grounded into two DPs in 76 DP situations, lowest rate in AL.
Career total of 14 homers, only two with runners on base.
SS for all but 24 innings in '86; only Ripken missed less time.
He and Gary Peters only postwar pitchers to have hit a grand slam but not allowed one.
Led A's with 27 starts, lowest total to lead any major league team.
Loves to face Pat Corrales (1 for 1, KO); hates to face Lou Whitaker (7 for 8, 4 BBs).
Opponents are 13 for 28 (.464) with three HRs when bases are loaded.
Righthanded opponents only 17 for 144 (.118) at the Oakland Coliseum.
Opponents' career batting: .243 with bases empty, .287 with runners on.