By Lenn Robbins
There is a commonly used expression when a newly hired coach or player is introduced that goes a long way to determining success:
He won the press conference.
Say something witty for the scribes. Make their job a tad easier. They’ll cut the new guy a little more slack when the early results are disappointing. Say something uplifting for the fans and they’ll forgive some missteps as part of the acclimation process.
Yep, if you win the press conference, you set yourself up to win, not just the day, but the town.
Congratulations Gerrit Cole, you just offered up a flawless primer in how to win the press conference, not an easy accomplishment when there are a lot of media and fans mumbling, “Is any player worth $324 million?”
That won’t be answered for a few years. If Cole leads the Yankees to multiple World Series titles (plural, as owner Hal Steinbrenner said) than $324 million is the down payment on a dynasty.
If not, well, the Yankees are one of the few American sports franchises that prints its own money. They’ll sign a dozen more sponsors. Surely some auto parts company wants to be the official hubcap of the Yankees.
But neither Cole nor the Yankees have to fret over this signing today because of, well, a sign. The handmade sign that an 11-year Cole held up in Game 6 of the 2001 World Series in Arizona reads:
Yankee Fan Today, Tomorrow, Forever.
It was yellowed after spending the last 18 years in a closet in his parent’s house but what a time for that sign to come out of the closet – when he was officially introduced as the latest next great Yankee in the Legends Club.
“I just wanted to say I’m here, I’ve always been here,” Cole, 29, told reporters.
Yes, Cole is here, the No.1 starting pitcher believed by Yankees ownership and front office to be the missing piece needed to win the first World Series title in 11 years.
Pressure? Not to Cole.
“Pressure is a privilege,’’ he said. “Pressure comes in situations that you’ve earned. You pitch in big games in September and October because you played well all year. With that in mind, you have to have a process that you know you need to stick to to perform in those games. We can say it’s just another game, but we know when you get to October, it’s really not.”
No, it’s not. The Canyon of Heroes has been litter-free in October since 2009. The Yankees have gotten close several times but close translates into failure for this franchise.
Cole’s signing is a sign of the times. The Yankees have gone too long since winning title No. 27. It was time to break the bank.
“We have an incredible team right here, right now,’’ said Steinbrenner. “What happens three years from now, you can never predict. Clearly, I felt it was time to strike, to really get that final big piece that can make a difference with the way things have been going.
“We need to win some world championships and I believe we’re going to do that, sooner than later. I believe that. Plural.”
That’s the sign Yankees fans are looking for: World Championships, Today, Tomorrow….