It’s been a week now, enough time for emotions to subside and for hard feelings to soften, so let’s take a few seconds to think about this rationally, reasonably, calmly, coolly.
Deep breath. Deeeeeeeeeeep breath.
One Mississippi … two Mississippi … three Mississippi …
Nope. A week later, the verdict is still the same.
Referencing the 2004 Yankees’ collapse as a means of firing up the 2022 Yankees was one of the dumbest things that ever has been done in sports in the interests of motivation. I would say it’s the single dumbest thing, but there’s no way of compiling a comprehensive list. Also: there’s a difference between ridiculous and dumb.
Jackie Sherrill, for instance, once had a bull castrated in front of his Mississippi State football players. Yes. That actually happened. I’m not sure what the optimum result was supposed to be but I am sure Sherrill thought it was a good idea at the time (the bull, we assume, vehemently disagreed).
Bobby Knight used all manner of inventive and grotesque methods to get his Indiana Hoosiers in line. Some of them were so gross I’ll spare you the details in case you’re reading this with your morning coffee and bagel; they’re easy enough to find on Google.
And who knows how many Sherrill and Knight wannabe coaches have done their own version of these things in the obscurity of a high school locker room, or a Pop Warner or Babe Ruth League sideline. Just about anything that can be described as a “gimmick” is ridiculous.
And, yes, exploiting the darkest on-field moment in Yankees history was ridiculous, too.
But it was also dumb. And dumb is inexcusable. Dumb is having no awareness of who you are, and where you are. Dumb is being so tone deaf that there isn’t a moment’s pause before asking yourself: “Is this really a good idea?”
Dumb is forgetting that some of the most beloved members of some recently beloved Yankees teams — teams that put together the last dynasty in baseball to date — were still on that 2004 team, managed by the same man who managed those dynasty teams.
And dumb is somehow allowing it to become public.
(Actually, that part was BEYOND dumb. What’s beyond dumb? Asinine? Idiotic? Stupid? Incompetent? Inept? Ham-handed? Ham-headed? All of the above?)
Honestly, it really is hard to believe that someone was actually paid to come up with this. For one thing: these are professional athletes. The smartest professional coaches understand that they can’t Woody Hayes professional athletes into playing better. Professionals know well that being down 0-3 in a best-of-seven is kind of a bad fix.
Billy Martin was a fiery guy. But much of that fire was directed at umpires, opposing players, sportswriters and his own players if they happened to meet in a saloon near last call. It wasn’t as if he screamed Thurman Munson out of a slump. He didn’t berate Reggie Jackson into hitting three home runs. Pros become pros because they are innately motivated.
Showing them a video?
A video detailing something that still festers around the Yankees like an open wound, a failure that not only cost the Yankees a World Series appearance, but also helped boost the Red Sox to this unexpected and unwanted era of unprecedented success and prosperity?
As my pal Joel Sherman often says — usually when one of the Wilpon Mets’ bad ideas became public knowledge: “What was the idea you turned down?”
This was the idea of the Yankees’ “director of mental conditioning.” And, yes, we can have a field day on the necessity of a “director of mental conditioning” in baseball.
But if he’s really a coach, this idea was the equivalent of a hitting coach urging his hitters to use a broomstick at the plate instead of a Louisville Slugger. It’s a pitching coach telling Aaron Boone, “Skip, I think Nestor can give us 225 pitches today.” It’s a third-base coach urging Daniel Vogelbach to steal home.
All of those things are, of course, beyond belief.
But that video should’ve been, also. Alas.
“Facing Nolan” on Netflix isn’t just an excellent documentary, it is a reminder of two things: Nolan Ryan was a freak of nature (and an exceedingly engaging fellow). And also: Ryan-for-Jim Fregosi, 50 years later, still a long, loud “Ooooof.”
A devoted reader named Robert Schwartz was kind enough to remind me that I picked the Jets for five wins and the Giants for six on the opening day of the season. So here’s to (hopefully) the last day I can say, “Told you so!”
It’s nice that Nets owner Joseph Tsai condemned Kyrie Irving’s support of an anti-Semitic video. Of course, Tsai is just one in an endless list of enablers who have allowed Irving to never have to answer for his transgressions with any real consequences.
I don’t like to kick a man when he’s down, but it’s hard to believe that Tom Brady will be anywhere near as good as Greg Olsen, the man he’s already ticketed to replace in the Fox football booth if and when Brady walks away from the Buccaneers.
Whack Back at Vac
Lou Fanzini: We are a family with both Yankees and Mets fans, and I was watching this Phillies-Astros train wreck in slow motion and wanted to stop it with all my might. Now I will just focus on the Knicks and Rangers and pretend the World Series is not happening.
Vac: As many folks who swore off the Series — however understandably — I wonder how much the fantastic Game 1 on Friday — as Michael Corleone said — pulled them back in?
Charles Cook: It’s time you spoke out about the impasse between Comcast and MSG in preventing loyal fans from seeing Knicks and Rangers games. Two years is enough already. This is a large audience where young and old fans are denied seeing our home town teams.
Vac: Consider it done, Charlie. Come on, both sides. This really is absurd.
@cnastu: Baseball isn’t really a sport that should have 80ish-win teams in the playoffs. I get why they do it, you don’t want half the league eliminated by June. But you kind of have to build your team for the 162 and then just hope to be hot in October.
@MikeVacc: That is absolutely the secret sauce the 89-win Braves uncovered last October and the 87-win Phillies copied so far this October.
Joachim Soriano: Good thing Daniel Boone was not like Aaron Boone. Daniel as we all know was primarily responsible for westward expansion and the settlement of what we know now as Kentucky. If it were up to Aaron Boone, westward expansion would have reached as far as Pittsburgh.
Vac: My old history professors would be so proud of me if I’d have come up with this one.
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