- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
(The place breaks up.)
What struck me is that Deford was apparently unable to make the obvious connection among Knight's obsession with winning, his coaching habits and the personality he presents to the public. The quotes are there in the article; Deford simply misses a major point, I believe.
At one point Knight says, "I've never gotten over West Point. Winning had to be more important there, and I had a point to prove. I was just coming off a playing career during which I didn't do as well as I'd hoped." To me, this last line is the key to understanding coaches like Knight. Earlier in the article, Deford had written that "the best thing that ever happened to Knight was that after high school...he didn't amount to a hill of beans as a player."
Here's precisely where I disagree with Deford. To me, the worst thing that ever happened to Knight—and probably to hundreds of high school and college coaches like him—was that his love for and obsession with a marvelous kid's game wasn't matched by the kind of personal success in it that he hungered for. Is it possible that the frustration engendered by this has implanted an almost monomaniacal need in some coaches to experience vicariously as an adult the satisfactions in being successful on the court that many young men experience as teen-agers? I think so. And I think almost everything else that Deford has written about the brilliant and misguided Knight fits into place with this notion.
HALL OF FAME
As the man who has tabulated the Hall of Fame vote for the BBWAA for the last 16 years, I can assure you that the so-called "bullet ballot"—one in which the voter submits only one name on his ballot—has had a minuscule effect on the outcome of the elections, and the statement from my New York Daily News colleague, Bill Madden, that "some of the older members don't think any players of the modern era are worthy of the Hall of Fame" is not only idiotic but also totally unfounded. Of the 401 votes cast in the 1981 election, for instance, there was only one bullet ballot and that was for Bob Gibson, the eventual selection of the writers.
I will not argue the Hall of Fame merits of Harmon Killebrew or Juan Marichal except to say I myself voted for them. But perhaps the comment that accompanied one writer's ballot will explain not only his feelings but also those of some of his colleagues when it comes to voting for players eligible for the first time: "My reasoning is: to get a vote in the first year of eligibility, a player should be an alltime great beyond the shadow of a doubt, a super, super superstar."
In the 45 years the writers have been voting, only 11 players have made it to Cooperstown on the first try, excluding those admitted to the Hall in its first year, 1936. When you realize that the list of first-timers includes Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Jackie Robinson, Bob Feller, Warren Spahn, Ernie Banks, Al Kaline, Sandy Koufax and Gibson, you can realize the value the majority of writers give to a first-year vote.