Editor's Note: Before Sunday's game with the Yankees, our A's Insider Casey Pratt spent 15 minutes speaking exclusively with Reggie Jackson in the form of a one-on-one interview. The conversation was centered around Reggie's time with the A's dynasty of the early 70s. Here is a transcript of their conversation.CP: At the time, prior to the Championship run, a lot of As played minor league ball together. You, Joe Rudi, Dave Duncan and Rollie Fingers to name a few, when you guys were winning in the Minor Leagues, at any point did you have an inclination about how special this team could become?RJ: (Reggie laughs) We were doing our best to try and get to the next level. Whether that was Double-A, or Triple-A, we were trying to get to the next level. All of us had pretty good talent in the league we were competing in. We were successful in Modesto when we played together, we also played together in Birmingham. I didn't play Triple-A ball, I think that Rollie did. Rudi played Triple-A, but most of us went right to the big leagues.No thought of any kind of success at the kind of level that we had. Two of us made the Hall of Fame, Duncan became arguably one of the best pitching coaches in the Major Leagues. He was on a World Series team several times as a player, a catcher, and a World Series several times with the Cardinals as a pitching coach. Dave Duncan had no idea that was going to happen. Joe Rudi really a near miss, a great player that didn't get much Hall of Fame mention, but certainly played at that level for a very long time. But there was no thought of what we were going to do in the future when we were 19-20 years-old, trying to scrape by, and trying to get to the next level as a player.CP: In 1971, the As put it all together, winning the division. You and Vida Blue had terrific years, Dick Williams won manager of the year, what clicked for you guys as a team?RJ: I don't really say getting over the hump, we started to become a good team. In 1971 we got beat by Baltimore, and that was a dominant team really in baseball at the time. The Detroit Tigers were a great team at the time, the Minnesota Twins were as well, and we were young coming into our own. We were a very good team, we were pretty good in '69, in '70 we kinda faltered a little bit. Then we got a new manager in Dick Williams and Dick had taken the Red Sox to the World Series, and got beat by the Cardinals. We were getting better and growing and developing as a young team and I think Dick was there at the right time. When we were in our formative years, and started to understand how to play the game. CP: The 1972 season, the team was ready to get over the hump, but dealt with unique challenges, you were injured in the Detroit series. I remember hearing that was one of the toughest times of your career. How tough was it to sit out that first World Series?RJ: I don't know if it was tough. I think a better way of saying it was it was a heck of an adjustment. Emotionally difficult, I struggled, shed some tears because I wasn't going to play. But, Dave Duncan dedicated the World Series to me, and Rudi played great, and I developed some great relationships there. Johnny Bench and I got to be real close at that time. So the memories are fabulous, I wish I would have played but next year we came back and went to the World Series again.CP: Aside from your injury in 1972, Vida held out and wasnt the same pitcher as he was in 1971, yet the team won it all, against the big Red Machine, how much of a testament was it to the team as a whole to be able step up in key spots and get it done?RJ: We also lost our center fielder, George Hendrick played some center field for us and did a great job. Angel Mangual had some issues and ended up playing center field for a while But we had great pitching, and a real consistent offense. Campy Campaneris of course, Sal Bando and Joe Rudi were there. Gene Tenace played a little at first base and he had a great season there, multiple home runs in the World Series. Rollie Fingers, Darold Knowles, I believe Knowles pitched every game of the 1972 World Series. We had tremendous pitching, real good solid players that didn't make mistakes. I think playing under Dick Williams in 1971 taught us how to play the game, how to go about it, and our maturation was starting from '71 to '72. And then of course the great years after that.CP: Did that motivate you to come back better than ever in 1973? You won MVP of the regular season and the World Series.RJ: I wanted to play in the World Series, I missed the year before. I set out really as a goal to help the ballclub get back to the World Series. I wound up having a very good year, one of my better years. We won the division, got into the series, beat Baltimore in '73 in the playoffs. And then we wound up against the Mets. They had great pitching, Jon Matlack and the great Tom Seaver was one of the best right handers in the game at the time, so we beat a great team. We had Campaneris, Billy North at the time had come over. We still had Gene Tenace there, but Bando and Rudi were solid, Dick Green was a tremendous defender, Campaneris kind of a near miss Hall of Famer. The pitching was what was dominant with Catfish Hunter, and Ken Holtzman being great of course. Vida Blue was there in '73, I think he won 20 in '73, he struggled in '72 because he missed a bunch of time, but was dominant again with another 20 win season. And Fingers was there to shut down. We had Paul Lindblad and Knowles was still with the ballclub. So we were still a dominant ballclub in every facet of the game. We had power, left-handed and right-handed. In '73, we had Deron Johnson as a designated hitter hit 19 homers, Rudi hit 20, Bando hit 20-25 drove in 100. We were solid and probably at that time the best team in baseball.CP: I don't know if how great that pitching staff was gets a lot of recognition when people think back about those teams. Would you agree?RJ: Casey, you know if people that know the game of baseball and you take a look at the ballclub, we didn't have .300 hitters. I think Joe Rudi may have been our only .300 hitter. We had guys that produced, that drove in runs, we hit the ball out of the ballpark, and we hit the ball out of the ballpark when it counted. With Bando or Rudi, or with Deron Johnson, we had guys that got base hits when it counted. We had our stolen base guys in Billy North, and the great Bert Campaneris stole bases when we needed it. Those two guys at the top of the order stole 100 together maybe a little bit more. So we were extremely efficient.We were a tremendous defensive ballclub, we were very sound fundamentally. Dick Williams pounded fundamentals into us. Captain Sal, was a guy that kept things together as a ballclub, kept every body pulling the same way. So we were a outstanding, very efficient business like club, that played the game to win and we had all the ingredients necessary. We had tremendous starting pitching, middle relief, and at the back of the bullpen a shutdown guy with Rollie Fingers.CP: 1973, the As are taking on the Mets, down a man on the roster, and then had to overcome not only a tough Mets team, but the Mike Andrews situation. Was that one of the most rewarding World Series that you ever won?RJ: I don't know Casey, I think they are all rewarding, I was on five World Championships and another five with the Yankees here. I've been on 10 World Series winners and every one is special, even as a staff member with the Yankees. When you win, It's a special feeling, it's a wonderful place to be and I have a great appreciation for it because it doesn't happen to everybody.Now as a player it's a little bit more gratifying because you are in the mix a bit more. So those years in Oakland I am very proud of, they are very special to me. The people on the ballclub are very special, ownership, front office they are very special to me. CP: The As won five-straight divisions, three-straight World Series titles, how many more could you guys have won if the team wasnt dismantled in the manner it was?RJ: I think we would have won a couple of more. Certainly we would have won another two Hindsight is 2020, the game was changing, the business of the game was changing. I could make the same comments now if some one would have said 'Reggie, do you think there will a be a player in player in baseball making 1M to 2M dollars a year?' Well, we have guys on the bench that don't play that make that much money. Players making 20M, 30M a year, so when you suppose or guess, I just like to accept what's there then work within what the guidelines are. The game is still played very similar between the lines. I think the money has affected the game.They are a little bit more cautious with players because you have to protect the investment. And then there are some players that chase the money because that's what's important to them. Then there are some players like Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia, or Mariano Rivera they'd play if they were making 100K a year or 50K a year, because they play for the love of the game.Oh, by the way you can make a pile of money with it now. But your great athletes whether it's LeBron James or Kobe Bryant, or the era I came from Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain or those guys. They made a lot of money but that was a byproduct of the love of the game.CP: Speaking of money, in a strange way did Charlie Finley serve as a uniting and motivating factor for you guys, because you had to constantly prove him wrong and fight for every penny?RJ: Not really, when you are on the field you really can't think of the money, if you do you are going to get off track. Playing in New York is a premier example of the difficulties that go along with playing under the spotlight, playing on a ballclub that is expected to win.The perfect example of that is LeBron James. LeBron if he doesn't win it all he is a failure. He doesn't get any credit for being the most valuable player, or helping a ballclub get better. Or helping a team that hadn't been in the postseason get there, etcetera. The standards for some are very different. When you are a Yankee the standards are different. Being with the franchise that has been a privilege for me.I still have a love affair with the Oakland A's. And I'm enormously appreciative of the years I had here. Still feel like I am part ot the community. The focus of the Yankees is we do this to win. And everyone here, the manager, the general manager, the ownership, the players on the field, the grounds crew, it's about winning. About winning the championship. It's a privilege to be associated with people with that attitude.
MESA, Ariz. — An unexpected opportunity came Daniel Gossett’s way Sunday, and the young right-hander took it in stride.
When the A’s adjusted their starting rotation, Kendall Graveman got bumped to Monday and Gossett learned he’d be taking the ball to start Sunday’s Cactus League home opener against the Los Angeles Angels.
“I’m here for what they need me for,” Gossett said. “So anything they need, gimme the ball.”
He spun two scoreless innings in a game Oakland lost 5-3 at Hohokam Stadium. A nice first impression for Gossett, indeed, but the truth is A’s officials were already quite familiar with him.
A second-round pick out of Clemson in 2014, Gossett impressed at three levels of the farm system in 2016, beginning the year with Single-A Stockton and finishing it with Triple-A Nashville.
This is his first big league camp, and manager Bob Melvin even mentioned Gossett as being part of the fifth starter conversation.
“He impressed everybody in the organization last year, so when talking about that fifth spot, who knows?” Melvin said before the game.
The only blemishes on Gossett’s day were the pair of walks he issued. After walking Jefrey Marte to lead off the second, he got a lift from his catcher, as Josh Phegley fired a strike to second to nail Marte trying to steal.
“A pitcher’s best friend, I guess,” Gossett said. He went 10-6 with a 2.69 ERA across 27 starts at all three levels of the minors last year, and his 151 strikeouts led the A’s farm system. Gossett’s fastball ranges anywhere from 90-95 on the gun. He throws a changeup that gets the most swings and misses, plus a slider and curve.
Grady Fuson, an A’s special assistant to the general manager, liked the adjustments he saw with Gossett over the course of last season.
“He’s a super kid, a grinder,” Fuson said over the winter. “He’s a guy that hadn’t struck many guys out and had been very hittable in the strike zone. (In 2016), he started executing to different parts of the zone that limits the hard contact.”
CAMP BATTLE: Alejandro De Aza sparked the A’s first rally in the third Sunday with a triple, then scored on Mark Canha’s double. With Jake Smolinski sidelined currently by a shoulder issue, it’s a good time for De Aza, a non-roster invitee to camp, to make his mark. The door could be open for him to make a push to make the roster as a fifth outfielder.
“He’s an interesting guy,” Melvin said of the nine-year veteran. “He knows how to play the game, he can play all three outfield spots. We’ve seen him before when he’s given us trouble, too, with the White Sox.”
Another contender for a reserve outfield spot is Jaycob Brugman, who has yet to crack the majors but is already on the 40-man roster. He singled home a run in the seventh. Like De Aza and Smolinski, Brugman can play center field, and it stands to reason the A’s will want to carry someone who can back up Rajai Davis at that position.
NOTEWORTHY: Phegley admitted to some butterflies before getting behind the plate for his first game since July, when a right knee injury wiped out the rest of his season.
But he looked good springing up to nail Marte on the second-inning steal attempt. The A’s are counting on Phegley returning to his role as the right-handed hitting platoon partner with Stephen Vogt behind the plate.
STOCK RISING: Melvin was impressed, and entertained, by the first look he got at reliever Simon Castro on Saturday against the Chicago Cubs. Castro retired Kris Bryant to strand a runner at third, the only hitter he faced. But it was what happened before the at-bat that caught Melvin’s attention.
“When he came to the mound he was pretty vocal,” Melvin noted. “He was fired up, telling the guys ‘Let’s go!’ I haven’t heard that too many times out of pitchers, let alone in spring training. So he impressed me with his eagerness to pitch.”
FAMILIAR FACES: Campy Campaneris and Blue Moon Odom each threw out ceremonial first pitches before Sunday’s exhibition home opener, which drew a smallish crowd of 4,072.
A's reliever John Axford is not your casual movie fan.
Axford majored in Film at Notre Dame and has a proven track record when it comes to the biggest night for movies.
The last two years, Axford correctly predicted 17 of 24 winners for the Academy Awards. In 2014, Axford went a perfect 18-of-18 with his predictions.
On Saturday, Axford offered 24 predictions for the 2017 Oscars.
Axford is a clear believer in La La Land, choosing the film for eights Oscars, after winning a record-breaking seven Golden Globes.
Will he go a perfect 24-for-24 this year?
My 2017 Oscar picks! pic.twitter.com/TanlzxJ6jw— John Axford (@JohnAxford) February 25, 2017