Sunday, October 03, 2010
Joe is the definition of a mensch . Whether it’s a superstar player or just the schmuck who hosts the postgame radio show, he treats everyone the same – with respect and kindness. He remembers ushers’ names. He patiently answers every question we media grunts ask even though some are so staggeringly stupid you wonder how these morons can tie their own shoes much less cover baseball.
People see Joe on TV during games, expressionless, and assume he needs a can of Red Bull just to get to the 4th inning. But he is registering every pitch, every nuance, and analyzing the game on a plane the rest of us so-called baseball experts can only dream about. You ask him about a play in a game from two weeks ago and he’ll tell you players, the situation, the pitch, where the defense was playing – it’s very impressive.
But yes, he does burn out pitchers. And his loyalty to certain veterans whose best days, good days, even horseshit days are far behind them is maddening. But it seems if you’re going to err, err on the side of believing too much. in people.
I’ll take with me many fond memories of my three years with Joe. He – teaching me the finer points of the game. Me – telling him what Shelley Long was really like. He and I recently sitting together in the Dodger Dugout, both lamenting how clueless we are at raising teenage daughters. Standing on the tarmac at LAX at 4:45 in the morning, waiting for our luggage after just flying home from Philadelphia after we just lost the National League Championship Series and him saying, even at this incredibly low point, how much he loves and cherishes the game. What I was really hoping he’d say was “do you need a ride home from the airport?” but that was pretty special too.
Don’t know what he’ll do now. He just turned 70 and the last summer he had off was the year we won World War II. And you could see this year has worn on him. Watch him in postgame interviews with his cap off and his hair all matted and you could swear he was turning into Jack Nicholson in THE SHINING.
But whether it’s a front office position, a consultancy role, broadcasting (he was a terrific announcer for the Angels), or back in the managerial trenches he’s sure to be an enormous asset for whoever is fortunate enough to get him.
I wish him the very best. I will miss him tremendously. He’s mentioned several times that he looks forward to watching his daughter’s softball game. Let me know when Joe and I’ll provide the Red Bull.
By Ken Levine at 6:53 AM