Mullie down, is Smoke next?
The man named "Smoke" deserves to have his No. 34 retired as well.
An honor long overdue
On March 19, 2012, the Golden State Warriors will (finally) retire No. 17. It is a number that should have been retired a long time ago, as it has been ten years since he last stepped onto an NBA court as a player, but more because of the fact that he was a fan favorite. In addition he was part of the Dream Team in 1992, he was a perennial and above all, the had THE perfect buzz cut. That alone should've gotten his jersey hung in the rafters while he was playing. Chris Mullin, excuse me, Hall of Famer Chris Mullin is absolutely deserving of such an honor and it was a pleasure getting to watch his entire career. I feel blessed to have been able to see what his friends, family, and fans saw on a nightly basis as he was growing up and went off to star at St. John's University with current Warriors head coach Mark Jackson. Never having taken that sweet stroke he had for granted, I often reminisce about the times when he would stride down the court on a fast break, pull up, and hit a three or a jumper. If you are a Warriors fan or have been paying attention to them for the last twenty years, that's about all you have to go on. It's a damn shame, but it's true.
While this is a highlight in an otherwise commonly bleak year for the fall professional sports in Oakland, the Warriors' next door neighbors, the Oakland A's, have the opportunity to start 2012 off with a bang. In addition to the signings of Yeonis Cespedes and Manny Ramirez, the A's find themselves with an opportunity to grab a playoff spot with the advent of the second Wild Card in Major League Baseball, if they can stay healthy. Unlike the Warriors, the Athletics have a proud past full of stars, a lot of wins, and World Series appearances. And much like the Warriors, they have a few fan favorites (Rickey, Carney, Jose, Big Mac, Eck, Hendu...just to name a few), but there is one man who stands out above them all. Yes, even above Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson. Some know him as Stew. Some know him as Smoke.
Everyone knows him as Dave Stewart.
From 1987-1992, Dave Stewart was unquestionably one of the best pitchers in ALL of baseball. He had a record of 107 wins, 66 losses and posted an ERA of 3.60. During this time span, he accomplished the following
- Led the American League in games started from 1988-1991; finishing second in 1987
- 3 straight Top 5 finishes in the American League in complete games; led the league in complete games in 1988, 1990
- 2 straight Top 10 finishes in shutouts; led the league with four in 1990
- 4 straight 20-win seasons
- 4 straight Top 2 finishes in wins; led the league in wins in 1987
- 4 straight Top 10 finishes in strikeouts in American League
- Led the A's to back-to-back-to-back World Series appearances (1988-1990)
- World Series MVP (1989)
- American League Championship Series MVP (1990)
- Threw a no-hitter vs. Toronto on June 29, 1990 (SkyDome)
As someone who grew up in Oakland and followed the Athletics like the disciples followed Jesus, I cannot imagine any success without Stew being on the team. I cannot envision him not taking the mound every third or fourth day and supplying that menacing stare that intimidated hitters. I cannot imagine him throwing that forkball on 3-2 with runners on second and third in the top of the seventh. Dave Stewart meant more to the team and the city than other player who has worn the Green and Gold before or since and I do not see any reason why his No. 34 should not be retired along side Reggie Jackson (No. 9), Rickey Henderson (No. 24), Jim "Catfish" Hunter (No. 27), Rollie Fingers (No. 34), and Dennis Eckersley (No. 43).
It is understood that all of the aforementioned are enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but this is not about the Hall of Fame. This is about a team. This is about the impact a player had on his team. This is about how well he played during his time there. Dave Stewart may not have had a Hall of Fame career in the eyes of the Baseball Writers of America, but he undoubtedly had an Oakland A's Hall of Fame career. For that, his number should go up there with those who did the same.
You can bring me Andy Pettite, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Jack Morris, and any other pitcher you want to, but if I have one game to play and can pick anyone to save my life' I'm callin' Dave Stewart. It's up to you to figure out how to beat me at that point. I have but one piece of advice for you:
Don't call Roger Clemens.