(Last year, with the Yanks struggling offensively in late June, I found myself inside the Yankee clubhouse listening to a speech by hitting coach Kevin Long. I transcribed the speech in this post, and it was a real dandy. I hadn't been back since, but yesterday, after A-Rod hit his 600th home run, I couldn't resist an invitation from Yankee management. They flew me up on a private jet from Raleigh, and I joined the team for a post-game meeting after the team avoided a sweep against Toronto.
The highlight of the day, of course, was A-Rod's 600th home run, coming after a horrendously long drought. When Kevin Long entered, it became immediately clear that he didn't know about the milestone. Further, he looked like a mess. He was wearing stained sweatpants, sandals (one with a broken strap), and a 'Bahama Babes' t-shirt with a dry rust-colored stain that looked a lot like blood running down the side. There was also a wet spot on the front of his pants. At first, I suspected this was urine, but as he came closer it was clear by the smell that it was some kind of liquor. Strangely, his hair was parted very evenly down the middle, and looked to be stiff with some kind of gel. I settled in between Pettitte and Ramiro Pena, stealthily pulled out my recorder, and got ready for the show. What follows is the exact transcription from his address to the team.)
Long: Okay, a-holes, I know what you're all thinking. Why can't Kevin get A-Rod to hit number 600? What's wrong with those two?
That's it, yuck it up. Hey Derek, you tired? I said, are you sleepy? Because I just saw you yawn, that's why. Hey fellas, the last time I saw Derek this tired, he was coming out of a Chelsea night club at 7am wondering which guy had kept his underwear for a souvenir. Am I right?
(murmurs of discontent)
Hey, come on now! I like to kid! I like to kid around with Derek, especially. Christ, everyone knows he's never done anything wrong. Old golden boy. Yeah, we all love Derek. Did you guys know Derek has a milestone coming up too? Oh yeah, it's not just A-Rod. Three more weak ground-outs, and Derek will have 7 million for his career.
(comment from the rear)
OH, THAT ONE WASN'T EVEN FUNNY, CURTIS? I'M SORRY, I GUESS I MISSED WHEN WE ALL MADE YOU THE CZAR OF COMEDY! SOMEONE GET THIS GUY A MICROPHONE AND A TUXEDO, BECAUSE HE'S GOT SOME REAL KNEE-SLAPPERS FOR US! MAYBE IF WE'RE LUCKY HE'LL TELL US THE ONE ABOUT THE GUY WHO COULDN'T HIT LEFTIES! THAT ONE'S A FUCKING CLASSIC! I DON'T WANT TO SPOIL ANYTHING, BUT THE PUNCH LINE IS A STRIKEOUT!
Okay Joe, okay. Hold up. Just hold on a second...let me catch my breath. I'm sorry. I've been a little stressed about this A-Rod thing. A lot of you might remember that I quit drinking last summer after some ugliness in DC. Well, that's over. I don't like to blame other people for my problems, but this one is on A-Rod. One hundred percent. I got some pretty bad nightmares about him hitting number 600, felt like it was my fault, and next thing I know I'm blind drunk in West Harlem, trying to figure out a quick way to get some extra cash that doesn't involve a humiliating sexual act. I think you all know how that story ends. Here's a hint: the only thing my ATM was spitting out was apologies. And I won't tell you what I was spitting out.
SHUT UP! SHUT YOUR JUDGING MOUTHS! QUIET OR I'LL SCREAM! Come on, seriously! Calm down! Please! Please let me finish or you'll see a grown man cry in front of you! And I can cry all night, man! Just ask my third wife.
(after a few last complaints, everyone settles)
Thank you. Quiet down now. Let me get to my point: we've got to figure out a way to get Alex his 600th dinger. I think the whole thing has gotten to his head. I have a couple ideas. First, bribery. I know some pitchers who could use a little extra cash. My other idea is blackmail. I have some photos of Josh Beckett I can guarantee you he'd take 10 ticks off his fastball to keep hidden. My last idea is that we black out the whole stadium after a pitch to Alex, play a loud bat-on-ball sound over the loudspeaker in the dark, launch a ball out of a little cannon into left, and turn the lights back on so everyone can see it go into the stands. I'm not sure about the logistics on that one, but-
(interrupted by Girardi. Long pause)
Well. Is that...that's true? This isn't a prank? You're not prankin' old Kev? Old Long Ball? You're not pulling my chain...wow. Six hundred. Hey, nice work, Alex. That's great. That's really something. I can't help but feel I should have been there. I'm the hitting coach, right? Yeah. Should've been there. To be dead honest with you, I got involved in a little poker game that went pretty late. Never even made it home. I was on the way to the train this morning when I stepped on a piece of broken glass and cut myself pretty good. I got so discouraged I just laid down and went to sleep. 'Course, the cops don't like that, and they gave me a hard time. But that's Jersey City for you.
Hey Derek, why aren't you looking at me? Why are you looking away like you're ashamed? Do you think you're better than me? Hell, sure you do. But I won't take it personal...you think you're better than everyone. Hey Derek, you like jokes, right? Dig this one: what do me, the Detroit Tigers, and Derek Jeter have in common? Nobody? Come on, this one's easy. Okay, I'll tell you: we've all banged his sister.
(angry clamor, Girardi advances to Long)
LEAVE ME ALONE! DON'T TOUCH ME! I'LL GIVE SARS TO EVERY MAN IN THIS ROOM! ALL 8 PIGS I OWN HAVE THE SWINE FLU! BACK OFF! I CAN BLEED ON COMMAND! RESPECT MY PRIVATE SPACE!
(brief tussle, Long ends up on the floor)
THAT'S IT, YOU ROTTEN BASTARDS! I QUIT! I'M OUT OF THIS PIECE OF SHIT TOWN! SAY YOUR GOODBYES AND GET A GOOD LOOK, FUCKERS! I'M GONNA HEAD WEST, YOU FUCKERS! I GOT A COUSIN WITH A TWO-ACRE PLOT OUT IN DAKOTA! HE HUNTS COYOTES WITH A BOW AND ARROW AND EATS LIKE A KING EVERY NIGHT! I DON'T NEED THIS SHIT! I KNOW A STEWARDESS THAT CAN GET ME HALF OFF ANY DOMESTIC FLIGHT! SCREW YOU! SCREW ALL OF YOU! NOBODY RESPECTS ME! GET OFF ME, GIRARDI! DEREK HATES ME! I KNOW HE DOES! HE NEVER INTRODUCES ME TO ANY GIRLS!
(everyone backs off, and Long begins to whimper)
You never introduced me to any of your girls, man. You know I've been divorced five times. You know that. Kevin could've used a night with a classy lady. Every girl you know is so pretty, and you never introduced me. Why couldn't you just do it once? Just once for old Kevin? I wouldn't embarrass you, man. I wouldn't.
It doesn't matter. I could've hit 600 home runs, you know. I could've done it. I just didn't want to. Didn't want to take the spotlight. It's not my style.
(Long turns and sulks to the showers)
I could've done it easy.