OAKLAND -- With Reggie Jackson on hand today, the A’s will honor their 1974 World Series team before tonight’s game against the Angels, marking 40 years since that team won the last of three consecutive World Series titles in Oakland. The A’s are one of only two franchises to three-peat, as the New York Yankees have also done it three times.
"All this is part of our past as a team and organization, so it’s important that we do reflect and bring these guys out," current A’s manager Bob Melvin said.
In many ways, that team isn’t too far removed from the current one. Melvin cites former third baseman Sal Bando as a kind of mentor -- Bando gave Melvin his first non-player job in baseball and they’ve stayed in contact. Former catcher Ray Fosse is, of course, a commentator on A’s broadcasts. And there’s a strong contingent from the 1974 team on hand today for pre-game ceremonies, including Rollie Fingers, Jackson, Vida Blue, Bert Campaneris and others.
Several of the former players met with the media Friday. A few snippets:
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Bando on Josh Donaldson, who placed fourth in A.L. MVP voting last year and leads all A.L. third baseman in the first round of All-Star voting: "I think Josh has just done a wonderful job when you consider he came from being a catcher to a third baseman. It’s amazing he has played as well as he has. It shows his athleticism."
Bando on what he likes about Donaldson: "You can tell he’s into the game. He’s just not lackadaisical out there. He’s a hard-nosed player. He’ll take one off the chest, he’ll take it off his head if he has to. He’s out there to win."
Rollie Fingers, who saved 341 games in his career, on the struggles of erstwhile closer Jim Johnson: "You’ve got to work yourself out of it. I had my bad games. I’d go out and blow three, four ballgames in a row. But it’s nice if you have a manager that’ll keep giving you the ball. If he keeps giving you the ball, that builds your confidence."
Fingers on whether he was ever booed at home: "I’m sure I was booed once in a while, but I can’t remember. I was usually pretty successful here as a relief pitcher. I got booed I’m sure as a starter back in the early 70s. But as a relief pitcher, I was pretty successful."
I also asked Fingers, who still sports a smart handlebar mustache, if he has any thoughts on the facial hair fashions of some of the current A’s players, such as fellow reliever Sean Doolittle. Fingers, though, said he doesn’t really watch much baseball, so he hadn’t seen the beards of Doolittle or catcher Derek Norris. He’ll have a chance this evening.
As for current baseball, here’s the A’s lineup tonight against Angels lefty Tyler Skaggs:
And the Angels lineup against A’s left-hander Tommy Milone:
* Brandon Moss is out a night after straining his right calf. Melvin said Moss is still day-to-day, but likely won’t play in the series finale Sunday either. The A’s have Monday off, so it would be a chance to get Moss a longer rest and potentially have him ready Tuesday in New York.
* Melvin said it’s a regular day off for Coco Crisp, who is dealing with some "nagging stuff" but would be available in a late-game situation if needed.
* Mike Trout was originally in the Angels’ lineup at DH but was just scratched with what the Angels are calling upper back stiffness.
* Milone has been excellent in his last four starts for the A’s, going 3-0 with a 1.03 ERA (three earned runs in 26 1/3 innings) while holding opponents to a .168 average. Melvin cited several possible reasons -- along with the "vote of confidence" when Dan Straily was sent to Triple-A instead of him, Milone has been working with pitching coach Curt Young on staying taller through his delivery and creating more movement on his fastball.