The Baddest of The Bad: Bad Dudes from A’s History the Team Could Use Now

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Dave Stewart. It doesn’t get much badder than “Smoke”.

In the 1980’s, Huey Lewis and The News (ignoring the contributions of The News is like ignoring the contributions of The Range. I mean, c’mon!) had an absurd song called “Bad is Bad” where Huey crooned, “Cool is a rule but, sometimes, Bad is Bad”. The point of the song is meant to draw attention to either Ronald Regan’s economic policies or the phenomenon of something sometimes being so awesome and incredible that it’s bad. As in, “Hey, man, those new green and gold alligator skin shoes are bad! Where can I get a pair?!” Unfortunately nobody talks like this any longer but Oakland has a long history of there being some thick, heavy badness just dripping in the atmosphere. For example, Tower of Power was bad and was from Oakland, The Black Panthers fighting for racial equality and social justice were bad and were from Oakland, Everett and Jones barbeque is bad and is from Oakland and Ken Stabler may have been the baddest man of them all in the 1970’s and played for the Oakland Raiders. When I look at the Oakland A’s now, one thing that’s apparent is that the team is in a cycle of serious bad withdrawals these days and if this team is going to make it deep into October, it won’t be Brett Anderson who saves them. It will be a serious dose of bad brand A’s ball. So for some inspiration, let’s go to the archives and look at the baddest A’s of them all.

Sal Bando. What’s great about Sal Bando and his contribution to being bad is that even today, when players from the A’s dynasties of the early 1970’s speak about playing in that time, they still refer to Sal Bando as “Captain Sal”. Even Reggie Jackson does this and he tried to once ruin Bando’s chance of being the team leader in RBI’s by not scoring from second on a Bando hit so he could be team RBI leader. The fact that he still calls him “Captain Sal” I think says something as does the fact that current A’s manager and Bay Area native, Bob Melvin, wears number 6 in Bando’s honor. It feels that right now the A’s could use a bad leader like Bando; someone to step-up and light a fire underneath these guys who look to be playing some pretty uninspired, flat baseball right now.

Reggie Jackson. Even though we put him on notice in the paragraph before and even though he once revved up his motorcycle’s engine right in front of my little brother’s 6 year old face scaring him something fierce, Reggie Jackson was as bad as he was a jerk. Right now the A’s could use his dramatic antics to make the final month and a half more exciting and they could definitely use his power right now. The A’s just aren’t coming up with big hits or much power these days and they could use a bat the size of Reggie’s even though his ego was much larger than his stick.

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Catfish Hunter. First off all, the greatest nickname in A’s history given by the late A’s owner, Charlie Finley who thought Jim Hunter simply, “looked like a Catfish”. Hunter was a big game, ace pitcher who when the A’s needed a win, you wanted him on the mound. Catfish gave up a ton of homers in his day but his clutch performance in big games is what you got from him. So bad! The A’s right now don’t really have a stud they can send out there who seems clutch or gives off the vibe that he won’t be beaten. Even with the A’s great staff now, I don’t sense teams like the Tigers or Orioles are thinking, “Oh, no. Not Dan Straily.” No disrespect to Straily’s impressive performance but a clutch, lights out, shut down hurler for the green and gold is much needed right now.

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Joe Rudi. Even though Joe Rudi didn’t have extraordinary numbers throughout his career he was a bad, big game, clutch performer and had a knack for delivering when the team needed him most. Rudi was also lights out in left field. In fact, when the A’s had their “old timers” game back in the early nineties before they retired Jim “Catfish” Hunter’s number 27, Rudi was out in left field snagging everything! The guy was a vacuum making great plays all day and bringing the crowd to their feet. I would love for Rudi to come out before a game and show Yoenis Cespedes some left field skills as “Yo” seems a little shaky these days. Rudi is still loved in Oakland and A’s fans still have the image of number 26 climbing the wall in Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium during the 1973 World Series forever etched in their memories.

Ricky Henderson. Hands down the greatest Oakland Athletic of all time. His homegrown combination of power, speed, defense and hitting for average electrified the A’s organization in the early 80’s, late 80’s, and early and then mid 90’s which was a pretty bad time in Oakland sports. Ricky said he was the greatest of all-time and he wasn’t too far off in that declaration. The all-time stolen base and runs leader could really help the A’s these days in helping them manufacture runs and getting in opposing pitchers heads. Ricky was as bad as they came and I’m pretty sure he could still play today which is really bad.

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Dave Henderson. The bad man who shared the outfield and last name as Ricky was equally as bad as they came. “Hendu” was clutch but also had a cannon of an arm out in center field and was also really easy going and friendly with the fans. “Hendu’s Bad Boy Club” was one of the first Oakland A’s bleacher crews and the fans out there cheered on “Hendu” through some great years. He had clutch power and a flair for the dramatics and was a guy you wanted at bat in a big game. So very bad!

Terry Steinbach.  Why is “Steiny” so bad? Because before there was Ivan Rodriguez, there was Steinbach who handled one of the most dominant pitching staffs of all time with amazing defense and seldom gets the credit he deserves. “Steiny” caught a ton of games for the A’s in the mid to late 80’s and all through the mid 90’s with some pop in his bat as well. Right now the A’s could use a great backstop and a bad man who can handle the young pitching staff, drive in some runs, block some balls in the dirt and do something the A’s haven’t really been able to consistently do since Steinbach left: throw out runners!

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Carney Lansford. Carny was bad for his mad intensity on the field. The guy was a gammer you couldn’t get out the lineup. All due respect to Josh Donaldson but Carney didn’t have to talk about how he was the bringer of rain, he just delivered and his teammates had his back at all times. Whenever your teammates (especially teammates like the A’s in the 1980’s who all were big time players in their own right) respect you as much as Lansford’s teammates respected his game, you know you’re doing something so right it’s just plain bad. Eric Chavez couldn’t fill the leadership or clutch shoes of Carney and Donaldson seems like he’s up for the task but there was only one Carney.

Dennis Eckersley. You can’t deny that “Eck” was a bad, bad man. The guy also seemed that in one run games he wasn’t fazed at all. “Eck” came in pumped up too and that got the crowd worked up. Watching his long hair flying in the wind as he delivered that side armed motion delivery with only one eye open and then pointing at the hitter as “Eck” struck him out was a thing of beauty for all A’s fans. Not that we need “Eck” to close out games now necessarily. Grant Balfour has been doing an amazing job of that for the past two seasons but imagine having “Eck” in the bullpen and knowing that is he came in, it would be all over and we could be celebrating good times with this bad Fremont native.

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Tim Hudson. There was a time when “Huddy” was the 2000’s version of Catfish Hunter. Once he took the hill the whole stadium knew that the A’s had a great chance of beating whoever was playing that day. I remember “Huddy” and his “stinger” throwing a 2 hit shut-out against Pedro Martinez and the Red Sox in a late summer game before the A’s made yet another late season push to October and the crowd was going crazy. It was all so bad! Also, “Huddy” makes the list for a night out in Boston before he pitched in a post-season game where some Boston fan began running his mouth (do they do anything else?) at Tim Hudson and Barry Zito and “Huddy” responded the baddest way he knew how: Haymakers! “That little guy just kept throwing haymakers” said the security guard at club in regards to Hudson. So bad!

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Dave Stewart. Then there was the baddest of them all. If your nickname is “Smoke” you’re pretty bad and you command respect. Stewart got it in loads by being a journeyman pitcher most of his career before finally landing back in his hometown of Oakland and kicking off his run of dominance. Dave Stewart never missed a start during his hey-day with the A’s and had a stretch of 4 twenty win seasons in a row where he ate at least 250 innings in each of those seasons. More than Catfish Hunter or Tim Hudson, if there was a game you needed your team to win, you’d put Dave Stewart out there and he’d go the distance for you. If anything, he was going to out intensify the other team. He was intimidating on the mound and would stare down hitters before he humiliated them with his devastating forkball. Stewart’s post-season performances are legendary and his match-ups against Roger Clemons were epic; usually resulting in a Clemons meltdown of some sort. If Dave Stewart were on the A’s now he’d give them that much needed boost of badness they so desperately require and a reassurance that in the post-season against “Stew”, there would be no reason for the other team to even show up. So, so bad!

Now those are some bad dudes. Even Huey Lewis would agree.

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Posted on August 23, 2013, in 2013, Athletics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. You nailed it.

  2. Oh my god, this is a trip down memory lane. Maybe a few of the guys could just pay a visit to the new A’s and give a boost to the club for the stretch run. I think this bunch has the ego, the gamesmanship, and more than a little tude, all that remains is to find what will bring it out. Maybe a brawl, or one of their own being thrown at, possibly some negative comments thrown their way by a the Rangers. Anyone of those things could do it. I have been away for a couple of weeks Ben, but I have been reading, quality stuff about the A’s as always, and I have been really enjoying it. Go A’s you can do it guys!

  3. Great to have you back, Paul!

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