MEET THE MUSTACHE
The Hall of Fame pitcher recently took part in a reunion of the 1989 A's, celebrating the team's last title. But there were no happy reminiscences about the '88 World Series, against the Dodgers.
DAN PATRICK:How did you do against Derek Jeter?
DENNIS ECKERSLEY: What did I face him, four times? I don't think he got a hit.
DP:When was the last time you faced him?
DP:Did you think that Jeter was going to be this big a star?
DE: That's a tough call. Back in the day of the shortstops he wasn't the one with all the power. That was Nomar [Garciaparra] and A-Rod. And even [Miguel] Tejada. They were the sexy ones. This guy was the consistent one. Pitch him in, he fights it off. That's what they said when I first saw him. He's been doing it for 20 years.
DP:Most frustrating guy you ever faced?
DE: Probably Rod Carew. He'd take his little base hit. I didn't like the flick-it stuff. I didn't care if a guy tried to go bridge. He'd swing real hard. He might get you. But he's going to swing and miss a lot. Like Reggie [Jackson].
DP:How much fun was it to punch out Reggie?
DE: If you struck out Reggie Jackson, you didn't think you were the greatest pitcher in the world. He struck out 2,500 times.
DP:Who still reminds you that he took you deep?
DE: He may not remind me, but Kirk Gibson—he doesn't have to remind me. I was at the All-Star Game and I walked into this place, and they're playing the damn thing on the big screen. I'm like, This is the All-Star Game, not the World Series. I can't get away from it.
DP:What comes to mind when you see that clip?
DE: I think, Boy, that was a great moment. [Laughs.] Thank God we won the next year.
DP:That was a great A's team. Did you realize at the time that Jose Canseco would go on to have such a controversial career?
DE: He had an inferiority complex to beat the band. He thought everybody was against him. Everybody loved [Mark] McGwire and everybody hated [Canseco]. It bothered him.
DP:Did you know you were facing guys who were using PEDs?
DE: I was fairly clueless at the time. I finished in '98, and obviously stuff was going on before that.
DP:Do you think there are guys in the Hall of Fame who used steroids?
DE: I wouldn't be shocked.
DP:Why didn't you take PEDs?
DE: Because I didn't think it would help. I'm old school. I thought you had to be loosey-goosey. You didn't lift any weights. Little did I know how helpful it would have been. I'm glad I didn't do it, though. I'm in the Hall of Fame. I can sleep at night.
Brian Urlacher, a linebacker for the Bears from 2000 to '12, explained why he will let his nine-year-old son play football. "By the time he gets old enough to play," Urlacher said, "it's going to be flag. He's not going to be able to tackle anybody." ... ESPN golf analyst Andy North said Rory McIlroy doesn't yet merit comparisons with Tiger Woods: "The consistency Tiger had was incredible. He ruined our game for a lot of guys. Dustin Johnson wins once every year for six or seven years. That's incredible. But Tiger won seven or eight [a year]." ... Actor Tim Robbins told me that Nuke LaLoosh, his character from Bull Durham, has had Tommy John surgery and developed a knuckleball. "I'm in my 50s," Robbins said of the prospect of a sequel. "I could still probably play 49. That's not unheard of for a knuckleball pitcher."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PATRICK)
JASON O. WATSON/GETTY IMAGES (ECKERSLEY)
NAM Y. HUH/AP (URLACHER)
JOE FARAONI/ESPN IMAGES (NORTH)
MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS (ROBBINS)