Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Sometimes you make decisions that make you cringe later. Decisions that leave you with deep regrets for the rest of your life. The second worst baseball decision I ever made was in July of 1999. My brother Steve and I were planning on going to a Yankee game with our wives, and it was a weird situation where the Yankees were playing two different teams on Saturday and Sunday. It went something like this – “Do you want to see the Yankees play the Braves or the Expos?” The Expos? Who wants to see Expos?!? Let’s go to the Braves game”. It was a great game. I remember Pettitte pitched a gem, and we watched Bernie Williams and Chuck Knoblauch hit home runs in our general direction. The problem? On Sunday July 18, 1999, David Cone cemented his legendary status as a pitcher and as a Yankee, as he took the mound and threw a perfect game against the Montreal Expos.

You cannot see me now, but I am gritting my teeth and clenching my fists as I recall this. The worst decision, by the way, took place in September of 1993 when I changed my mind at the last minute about going to the game because of a heat warning. However, I will save that story for the Jim Abbott article. No, I’m not kidding.

The truth is that David Cone was already a legend with the team, having been a part of the run from 1995 to his perfect game and beyond to the 2000 postseason. He was the second piece of the starting rotation puzzle that the Yankees put together after a few dreadful years in the early 1990’s. The Yankees had signed Jimmy Key and they started to build around him. David Cone, who led the National League in strikeouts in 1990 and 1991, earned a World Series win in 1992 and a Cy Young Award in 1994, was a winner who would prove to be instrumental in the Yankees success in the late 1990’s. When Jimmy Key went down with an injury in 1995, David Cone inherited the ace role and was part of that late-season drive to an improbable playoff spot, having won eight of his last ten decisions and finishing the season at 18-8.

In 1996, tragedy struck as doctors found an aneurysm in his arm and he missed most of the season. As the Yankees started to falter in August, David rose to the occasion, coming back much sooner than expected. In his return game against the Oakland Athletics, he threw seven hitless innings for the win. In the process, he re-ignited the Yankees and got them to the playoffs. I will never forget Game 3 of that World Series.

 With the Yankees down two games to none, and with the Braves having loaded the bases and Javy Lopez ready to give them the lead in the bottom of the sixth, Joe Torre comes out of the dugout. Famously, Joe put up his hands and the dialog was short and to the point. “Can you get him out?” “Yes I can!” That is what you expect from your leaders, your heroes. He had derailed the Atlanta Braves locomotive, and the Yankees went on to win the Series in six games.

He stayed with the Yankees through the 2000 season, and the fans’ love of Coney never abated. He was able to do some TV commercials, and he was hysterical. His competition with Orlando Hernandez’ El Duque dance move on an Adidas commercial, where a patron caught him trying a move that looked like a pitcher’s windup, showcased his sense of humor. In one of the funniest commercials I have ever seen (again for Adidas), he was with the ANSKY guys (remember them?) where they helped Cone rest his arm by doing everything for him that required the use of his hand. The look on his face when he came out of the men’s room after one of the guys apparently had “helped him” so he wouldn’t have to use his hand was priceless! We looked everywhere on YouTube for it, we couldn't find it, but here are the ANKSY guys:

David Cone is one of those rare finds among players. He is a man who can play at the highest levels and succeed. He is a man who can call a great game and give deep analysis into what a pitcher is thinking during a game. He is a man who has a great personality and sense of humor, who can be trusted to represent the organization. Personally, I am glad we found him.

 --Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Writer
Twitter: @KingAgamemnon
My blog is: Shots from Murderer's Row 

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