Editor's Note: With all the McGwire news lately, the Husband of Half of OAD ("Hohooad") has stepped into the breach to defend the A's of 1989.
In light of Mark McGwire’s recent revelations and the ubiquituous posting of Canseco/McGwire Bash Brother photos on ESPN.com and other outlets, I thought it was high time to defend the sanctity of the 1989 World Series Championship. Some commentators (ok, my buddy and his brother) now claim that the ’89 trophy is “tainted” by the Bash Brothers. Do the Bash Brothers accurately define the ’89 A’s?
As a kid watching Monte Moore and Ray Fosse broadcast that glorious season on TV, the characters and images that I remember most are Dave Stewart and his devastating scowl and forkball, Eckersley and his finger-pointing, Hendu and his gap-toothed grins during every single at-bat, Rickey and his lime-green batting gloves, Carney Lansford and his frenetic bat-waggle, Dave Parker and his giant on-deck-circle sledge hammer, Mike Moore’s slouched shoulders and Timothy McVeigh-ish countenance, Rick Honeycutt and his handy back-pocket ball-scuffing nail file, Gene Nelson’s Eck-apeing mullet and ‘stache, Terry Steinbach’s dorky extended batting helmet face-protector flap, and Mike Gallego’s rich and robust curly mullet. I hardly even remember Jose or McGwire! There’s a good reason for this: Canseco only appeared in 65 games that year, racking up a scant 227 plate appearances. Canseco was a beast in ’88 , but his impact on 1989 was minor. McGwire had a solid season in ’89, but it’s questionable whether he was even using that year. In his statement, he claims to have only started in the ’89-’90 offseason, and his physique wasn’t any noticeably different from his rookie year in 1987. Plus, McGwire was just one guy in a lineup of guys in their prime. Even if McGwire was using steroids in ‘89, then one guy among 9 seems par for the course in the “Steroid Era.”
The only thing that tainted that championship was the Loma Prieta earthquake, which overshadowed one of the most dominant beatdowns in WS history. 1989 was a great year for an A's-loving 4th grader like me: hypercolor t-shirts, spandex bike shorts, Batman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the NES, and the A’s reminding us for the fourth time that they are the only championship-caliber baseball franchise in the Bay Area.
When I dwell on “tainted” championships, I look back on the Red Sox of ’04 and ’07, with both Manny and Ortiz up to their eyeballs in PED’s, not my beloved '89 A's.