The poll right above the standings on the right is pretty indicative of where Dave Stewart stands in Oakland Athletics lore. At least in the minds of A's fans. He's currently leading the poll by a wide margin over Mark McGwire and Rollie Fingers. Fingers helped the Oakland establish its championship reputation in the early 70's and yet, the man many A's fans know as simply "Stew" is revered in such an overwhelming way.
I recently did an email interview with Stew, but I want to be as up front as possible before you start reading it. Stew answered these questions from a Blackberry, which aren't exactly easy to type lengthy, meaty answers on. So if the answers seem short and abrupt, it's because of this new-fangled thang known as technology. I also sent far too many questions I believe (27 or so in all) and Dave had a time limit so he didn't get to all of them.
Without further ado, here is the first Athletics Nation interview with one of the biggest legends from the A's last championship, Dave Stewart:
Blez: How has the transition been from player to coach to agent?
Stew: The transition has been good, easy. I enjoy what I'm doing, I still get to relate to players on a day to day basis which is the best part of being an agent. I understand most of the business part of baseball, and so negotiations are not combative for me. I like my life at this time.
Blez: Was it strange to be involved in negotiating with the team where you had your greatest successes?
Stew: Not at all. Billy and I had some silent moments during the negotiation. Overall because we have a relationship from the past, things went smoothly.
Blez: What's your fondest memory from your playing days?
Stew: My fondest memory is probably winning the World Series in 89. Also the Roberto Clemente award is one of my fondest memories too.
Blez: Much of your success didn't really happen until you got to Oakland. Why do you think the dramatic turnaround took place once you
landed in the Bay Area?
Stew: I believe that opportunity presents itself in many ways. Sometimes you have to wait for it. In my case, I had to wait. Getting a chance to pitch every fifth day, learning about my body, learning about setting up hitters, just overall growth.
Blez: Athletics Nation recently did a poll of the biggest "Hometown Hero" snub for the Oakland A's and you were decidedly chosen as the person who deserved to be nominated, over names like Mark McGwire and Rollie Fingers. Did you ever suspect you'd go down in team lore as one of the all-time greats when you put on the green and gold for the first time?
Stew: No I didn't. I just wanted to play baseball and have a good long career. Play to the best of my ability. That's all I wanted to accomplish.
Blez: Do you ever see Roger Clemens and razz him about your 7-1 career mark against him? And do you think he gets the chills just thinking about facing you?
Stew: No I never see Roger any where. I doubt that he got chills thinking about pitching against me.
Blez: Did you read Moneyball? What are your impressions of that book and how it has applied to the modern game?
Stew: No I didn't read it, so I really can't comment.
Blez: A lot of folks thought of you as such an intimidating presence on the mound...how much of that was real and how much was just a part of the persona you wanted to carry with you?
Stew: I never put on anything to intimidate hitters. All that you saw, was all that it was. No faking here.
Blez: You were an intimidating presence, but was there any batter you faced who made you feel a bit intimidated?
Stew: I feared no hitter. I always thought I could get any hitter out at least once.
Blez: You had four straight 20-win seasons and still never took home a Cy Young...do you have any regrets for not being able to secure one?
Stew: I should have won at least one. I wished for it at the time, now I'm not too sure I miss it.
Blez: The 1988-1992 era was a special time for many A's fans, with you, Welch, Moore, Eckersley and others leading the pitching, and
on the other side, the Bash Brothers, Rickey, Hendu, Carney and Steinbach pushing the team to the playoffs in 4 of the five years, and to the World Series three times. Do you maintain contacts and relationships with the players of this time? Who do you consider to be your closest friends from this era?
Stew: I still consider Carney Lansford to be a close friend, Dave Henderson, Rickey Henderson. and Dave Parker. I still see these guys on occasions and talk by phone to them.
Blez: Clearly the culture of pitching has changed in trying to avoid injuries in the last 20 years, yet so many guys still seem to break down - and guys who if they were healthy could potentially be dominant pitchers of this era like Harden and Prior. Even though they're protected, why so do breakdowns still happen?
Stew: It's my belief that baseball is suffering so many break downs because real arm strength is developed by throwing and running. Getting your legs in good shape to take pressure off your arm. That's just my 2 cents.
Blez: Where can A's fans keep up with you on a regular basis?
Stew: I'm under the radar now, staying out of peoples way, just enjoying life. I do have a internet sports talk show called Throwing Heat. You can listen in every Tuesday and Thursday at 11 o'clock. We have a good time talking baseball with no holds barred. Tune in to NBX.com.
Blez: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to your biggest and most ardent fans. It's an honor to chat with you and the A's fans
desperately miss seeing you on the mound.