(Because of this blog's profound influence in the Yankee world, I'm often invited by upper management into the clubhouse to report on the inner workings of the organization. Usually I refuse, since I think it's important for a blogger to be unaffiliated, but after the recent offensive struggles against low-level National League competition, I couldn't resist yesterday's invite. They flew me down to Atlanta, and I joined the team inside the Turner Field visitor's locker room at about 5pm.
A half hour later, Yankee hitting coach Kevin Long entered. I'd heard he was going to address the team's hitting woes, but I didn't expect him to look so frazzled. He wore a ripped light blue dress shirt that hung almost to his knees, so far that you could barely see the stained khaki shorts beneath. He was barefoot. Sunglasses rested on his forehead, but the right lens was missing. He had two black bags under his eyes, and I could smell liquor on his breath. Girardi gathered the team around, and as they circled up, I managed to blend in between Brett Gardner and Pettitte. What follows is the transcript of Long's speech, from a recorder I hid in my pocket.)
Long: All right. Settle down. I know what you guys are thinking. Hey Kevin, what are you doing here before 7pm?
At least that's what Derek's thinking, right? Yeah, Derek likes to give me a hard time. Hey Derek, here's a joke: what do you call a Michigan queer that lucks his way into four World Series titles?
Hey, I'm kidding. I'm kidding. Derek's the best. The absolute best. King of New York. 'Double Play' Derek. That's what I call him. Affectionate...it's an affectionate term. Jeter, Jeter, 6-4-3-ter.
WHAT ARE YOU ALL, A BUNCH OF PUSSIES? NOBODY CAN LAUGH ANYMORE? ARE WE AT A FUCKING FUNERAL?
(total silence. Long begins to whisper)
I wish we were. I wish to God we were. I wish we were at Derek's funeral. Then I would be happy.
Okay, okay. Hold up, Joe. Hold up a second. I want to talk to the guys. That's what this is about. Can we just...can I talk to the guys? Am I not the manager anymore? Can I not talk to my own guys? My own fucking team?
(clarification from Girardi)
Hitting coach. Yes. You know what I meant. Don't be power hungry.
Okay, listen up. You all know why I'm here. We've been hitting like girls lately. No offense, Derek. But we've been hitting like a bunch of females. Why? Why is that? I don't know. I should be fixing this. This is supposed to be my thing. But I can't be around all the fucking time, guys. That's part of the business, and I really wish you'd adapt.
Derek's thinking, 'this guy's a drunk. He's been drinking. He's filthy with liquor.' Right? Derek's going, 'get this guy out of my locker room. I'm the king of this place. I'm Derek Jeter, the king of the whole locker room.'
Well he's right. I've been drinking. Last night I cut my arm wide the fuck open on a piece of fence over on Martin Luther King Boulevard. Hurt like holy hell. The doc stitched it up, but I don't have health insurance so I had to skedaddle from the hospital. Jumped from a third floor window, fucked up my ankle pretty good. That's why I'm limping. I also forgot my shoes. And my wallet. But here I am. Here I am in the flesh. The drunk, wounded flesh.
Hey Derek, you ever been divorced? Have you?
No. You're too cool for that. You haven't even been married. Not even married, imagine that. Screwing around with college girls instead. Must be nice. It's a little sick, if you ask me. Hey fellas, maybe Derek's a pedophile. Who knows? I'm not here to judge anyone. Don't let him babysit your kids, that's all I'm saying.
I've been married, though. Yes sir. Four times. Each wife uglier than the last. What do you say to that?
(interjection from nearby)
WHAT'S MY POINT, ANDY?! WHAT'S MY POINT?! HERE'S MY FUCKING POINT: STOP HITTING LIKE YOU'RE WEARING ONE OF DEREK'S FLORAL PRINT DRESSES! HIS LITTLE MINI-SKIRTS! HIS FRILLY FAG BLOUSES!
(Girardi comes to the front and puts a hand on Long's shoulder)
DON'T TOUCH ME! I'VE GOT RABIES! I'LL BITE YOU!
(Long bares his teeth, Girardi steps back)
I'm serious, Joe, I got bit by a raccoon in Tampa earlier this year. I don't have rabies, though. It's tetanus or some shit like that. I thought this little room service mamacita from the hotel threw my pencil drawings out, and I was trying to find them in the garbage pile around by the dumpsters. Right when I cleared past some kid's toy bike, the little striped bastard bit me right on the thigh. That's sensitive flesh. Have someone bite you on the thigh if you don't believe me.
I killed him, though. The raccoon. Strangled him right on the spot. It's a real strange kick, watching an animal die. Hell of it was, I found the pencil drawings later in the bathtub. I forgot I hid them there so the maids wouldn't find 'em. They'll steal the hair off your back.
(Long laughs to himself)
Hey, listen up. Things aren't going well for us. Hitting a baseball should be easy. But it's not. So let's start hitting better. Did I mention you look like a bunch of girls out there? It's true. And I'm so sick of women, man. So sick. They cry if you even look at 'em funny. And you can't lay a finger on them without it being a misdemeanor, you know? But that's a story for another day.
I should probably give some real hitting advice. Well, here we go: Derek, a baseball bat is different from that other long thing you hold in your hand every night, and I think you know what I'm-
(loud yelling, fracas, physical confrontation)
AHHHHHHH MY FOOT! MY FOOT! BACK OFF OF ME YOU SONS OF DEVILS! YOU EVIL MANCHILDREN HOMO BASTARDS! FUCK THIS! I QUIT! I'M OUTTA HERE! SAYONARA, FUCKERS! I CAN LEAVE THIS PIECE OF SHIT TEAM AND GO FISHING! I GOT A BOAT IN THE EVERGLADES AND A BROTHER WITH A FLOATING GAS STATION! I WRESTLED AN ALLIGATOR FOR FUN! I CAN DO ANYTHING! YOU NEVER TRIED TO UNDERSTAND ME, DEREK! I HATE YOU! YOU NEVER INVITED ME TO YOUR PARTIES!
(Long breathes heavily and stares at the floor)
You never invited me to your parties, man. I always wanted to go. I always did. They're the coolest parties in the whole world. Everyone says it.
(long, awkward silence. Long begins to cry)
No, I don't quit. Hey Joe, did you hear me? I don't quit. God, I gotta take a dump so bad. This is hell. This whole world is hell. Don't fire me, please. I swear to God, I'll hit a home run. Put me in the game, I'll do it. I'll hit a home run.
(Long limps toward the showers)
Nobody understands me.