You know who has zero sympathy for Larry Johnson, the Kansas City Chiefs running back who questioned his head coach’s credentials on Twitter earlier this week? Baseball players. That’s because their hitting coaches have weaker job resumes than your average high school sophomore.
I’m not kidding. Have you done a background check on your favorite team’s hitting coach lately? More importantly, has your favorite team done a background check on its hitting coach? Eight teams have coaches who never made it to the Major Leagues, not for a single day. Even Pete Rose Jr. got a cup of coffee in the bigs.
Then you have the ones who actually did make it to the show. Most of them were journeymen and backups for their entire careers, and their numbers tell you why. Greg Maddux would be more likely to come through with a big hit than some of these guys. Case in point: Seattle hitting coach Alan Cockrell. Cockrell played for five different organizations during his 12 year pro career.
He collected just two hits in the Major Leagues.
There isn’t a hitting coach in baseball with a resume that compares to Mark McGwire’s, which is why I can’t understand why people are making such a fuss over Big Mac returning to the sport to coach the St. Louis Cardinals. If Jack Howell, a career .239 hitter, is allowed to teach big leaguers how to hit, surely McGwire must have something to offer, right?
And don’t tell me baseball just isn’t ready to embrace a steroid user. Not after I had to hear about what a warrior Andy Pettitte is after he helped the Yankees win the pennant on Sunday night. This year we watched Alex Rodriguez giving curtain calls, Manny Ramirez return to cheers after a 50-game suspension and David Ortiz receive standing ovations following the news that he may have cheated. Our nation’s biggest baseball hotbeds sent the message McGwire preached years ago: We aren’t here to talk about the past.
But at least McGwire has a past worth talking about. The same can’t be said for the majority of hitting coaches in baseball. If you take Don Mattingly out of the equation, the rest of the group combined to make 11 All Star teams. McGwire made 12 appearances himself, which happens to be twice as much as Donnie Baseball.