Which Ex Yankee legend looks more ridiculous?

In my He played in the postseason with WHAT team 25 man roster post, I found lots of pictures of well known players looking strange in different uniforms. Elston Howard as a Red Sox? Dizzy Dean as a Cub? Dwight Gooden with the Indians?

But none of those pictures are as strange as these three Yankee legends who wore the uniforms as a coach for different clubs.

They all look absurd. Which one is the strangest?

BABE RUTHCoach for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Ruth never got a shot to manage a team. The closest he ever got was being the first base coach for the 1938 Dodgers under manager Leo Durocher.

It was a match made in hell as Ruth felt he was the superior talent to Durocher (was there any argument there?) and HE deserved to manage the team.

Durocher felt that Ruth’s head wasn’t in the game and Ruth wound up leaving.

Yes, it is crazy seeing Ruth as a Dodger. But the fact that it is a black and white picture from another era makes it less anachronistic than the next two pictures. And besides, Ruth wound up playing for the Braves at the end of his career, so the idea of him wearing a strange uniform is not so foreign.

JOE DiMAGGIOCoach for the Oakland A’s

OK, this is a little absurd.

DiMaggio played in a preexpansion, pre franchise moving, black and white TV era. The A’s were in Philadelphia when he retired after the 1951 World Series.

Now here he is, skipping over the Kansas City move and landing in Oakland? And unlike Ruth who played for three different teams, DiMaggio was a Yankee only icon. He took the baton from Gehrig and became the superstar of style and grace in Yankee pinstripes.

And here he is in the bright green Oakland unis for the 1968 and 1969 seasons? This was AFTER Simon and Garfunkel sang “Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?” Well, I hope the nations lonely eyes turned to the East Bay.

But DiMaggio was a product of the Bay Area. And Charlie O. Finley wanted to bring some prestige to the A’s when they arrived in Oakland. So Joe D was offered a coaching job and an executive position. And he did get to mentor a certain young slugger named Reggie Jackson.

It didn’t last long and soon Joe’s main profession became selling Mr. Coffee and throwing out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium.

(He probably became richer doing those two things than playing baseball.)

YOGI BERRACoach for the Houston Astros

This is so surreal that it almost looks like a Photoshopped picture.

It sounds like a scenario from a dream. “I had a dream that Yogi Berra was a coach… but he was in a Houston Astros uniform, back when they had the orange stripes across the belly.”

I actually remember Yogi as the Astros coach. During the 1986 NLCS, I remember him in the Houston dugout and patting Billy Hatcher on the back when he hit his game tying, series extending home run in Game 6.

And even with that memory this STILL looks absurd.

Yogi has no connection to the Astros!

He is a St. Louis native so maybe the Cardinals would have made sense… but the ASTROS?

A player who so represented a traditional romantic time of baseball played for the very team whose legacy was the modern and the new era. Yogi, the hero who played in the post war Yankee dynasty, was calling a dome with fake grass and garish orange uniforms for an expansion team.

I am trying to think of some metaphor to explain how absurd that is… but I can’t think of one better than Yogi Berra in a Houston Astros uniform!

He had two bitter divorces from the Yankees. One after the 1964 World Series when he was fired as the manager and replaced by former Cardinals manager Johnny Keane. Yogi found refuge with his mentor Casey Stengel and became a Mets coach and eventually a manager.

Then in 1985 when Steinbrenner fired Yogi as the Yankees manager in 1985. He joined the Houston coaching staff and never embraced the Yankees again until DiMaggio passed away in 1999.

Maybe Joe D left him a message. “Don’t have the last uniform you wear be that ridiculous orange Astros uniform.”

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Shaq and Kobe = Ruth and Gehrig

This is the story of two teammates.
One was larger than life, both physically and in his personality.

He started his career in one city and had some success there but some people questioned his focus and discipline.

He moved to another city where he relished being in the spotlight. He did endorsements, appeared in movies, and became a beloved big kid who was having more fun than anyone could imagine.

Sometimes he was out of shape and some people wondered if the game had his full attention. But nobody could doubt his production. He put up numbers that were as gigantic as his body and personality. And multiple championships followed.

He was paired with a teammate who was also great. His teammate was focused, educated and had an unmatched work ethic. He did endorsements and appearances but never seemed to embrace it. He just wanted to play, play hard and win.

He may not have been the larger than life physical specimen that his teammate was, but he never broke down, played day in and day out and put up amazing numbers on his own.

Eventually the two teammates became estranged and no longer talked to each other.
The big fellow moved on. Free from the large shadow, the more focused teammate had his best years.

No longer the sidekick, he became the MVP and led his storied team to multiple titles on his own with a brand new cast of characters.

Meanwhile the larger than life guy was a broken down shell of himself, playing out the string in Boston when he called it quits. But when he retired he was a champion in two different cities, put up amazing numbers and was the most fun to watch player of his generation.

Who was I talking about?
Shaq and Kobe?
Or Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

With Shaq’s retirement, there was an insane conversation on 710 ESPN in Los Angeles of whether or not Shaq underachieved. (As if being in the top 5 of scoring, winning 3 Finals MVPs and leading 3 different franchises to the NBA Finals and winning the NBA MVP is the resume of a slacker.)

But people who criticize Shaq based on his weight and based on his being kind of a goofball are missing the joy that was Shaq and probably would have trashed Ruth for all of HIS off field antics.

They were both big kids who LOVED being who they were.

They were big, positive and fun. And backed it up with winning and piling up championships.

There is something to be said about being substantive on the field (or court) and being a big crowd pleaser as well. Yes we love to have players who are all business and eat, breathe and defecate their sport.

But having a showman who can back up the bravado is so much fun. They were not the equivalent of, say, Brian Bosworth who had the brash self promotion but couldn’t translate it onto the field.

They were the epitome of “It isn’t bragging if you can back it up.”

And lest we forget, these are fun GAMES and Shaq and the Babe were having FUN playing games. And I know it was fun to watch Shaq, even when he was a Laker.

If the more serious player is more of your style, then you are probably a Kobe lover… or would have preferred Gehrig.

Kobe was raised all over the world, speaks different languages and has a singular purpose… winning basketball games.

Likewise Gehrig was Ivy League educated and refused to take himself out of a game.

But their contrasting styles to Shaq and the Babe were also aesthetically pleasing. Two very different kind of superstars, both physically and in personality.

For Laker fans I am sure it was fun to see Shaq and Kobe together.
No doubt it was fun for Yankee fans to see Ruth and Gehrig together.

And let’s be thankful that both kinds of superstars can exist.

Ruth and Gehrig patched up their differences when Lou was dying.
Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that with Shaq and Kobe.

I have written a blog post that is basically a love letter to Laker and Yankee greatness.

If you will excuse me, I am going to throw up.
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Another Cleveland fan post… I don’t care WHAT my cousin says!

The NBA finals are about to start and the Indians are up 3-0 against the defending AL Champion Rangers.

I am telling you Cleveland fans… STAY WITH THE INDIANS!

Be like THESE fans who are watching a POSITIVE sporting event and not moping around saying “Ohhhh woe is us. We don’t have LeBron. We are awful.” Boo hoo hoo.

The best team in baseball is playing in your backyard. Go support him.

Now I know this post pissed someone off.

Not my dear readers or any Cleveland fans who are stumbling across this blog.

No, I know I am getting under the skin of my cousin Dave.
Dave reads my blog daily. I know that because he writes me little comments, e mails and text messages.

And lo and behold he has written to me saying I am talking about Cleveland and their fans too much.

For that I say “I am not talking about them ENOUGH!”

There will be only 6 more NBA games this year. (Chances are it will be fewer than that… the Heat are going to win and win big.) And I only have a few more chances to talk Cleveland fans off of the ledge.

It is my DUTY!

I assure you Dave that I will write more about the wonderful situation that is the Mets soon… but for now… yup, I am going to do it again. I am going to link the Cleveland fan video AGAIN!

Just try and stop me.

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