TAMPA — You could see the wonder in Russell Wilson’s eyes. He’d taken some batting-practice hacks alongside Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton during his week-long internship with the Yankees, and he’d hit a couple of balls hard, hadn’t at all embarrassed himself.
And yet Wilson, whose day job is playing quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, understood something that was as clear as the sky on another perfect Grapefruit League morning:
“The ball just sounds different off their bats,” he said.
We know, of course, how extraordinary pro athletes are in their chosen sports, but we probably don’t really know. We assume. We figure if they can make healthy livings playing these games, if someone is willing to fork over millions of dollars for the privilege of having them play, they have to be good.
What’s always telling, though, is listening to the way pro athletes marvel at each other. Wilson is a marvel on the football field, and he was a good enough baseball player to play a couple of summers of minor league ball. He is proficient at running fast enough to not be killed on Sundays, and then, on a dime, firing perfect spirals 50 yards between a pair of numbers whenever necessary.
“That,” Brett Gardner said, “isn’t easy.”
And yet there he was, gawking at his cage partners’ moon shots like just another fan who’d decided to come to the park early. Nobody really appreciates the rarefied level gifted athletes attain than other gifted athletes.
“I was away from the game for a year or two,” Ron Darling was telling me one day at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, a few hours before a Mets-Phillies game. “And I walked onto the field with my jacket and tie and started watching, and it was incredible to me just how fast it all was. I mean, it wasn’t long before that when I was out there with them but now it seemed everything was going a hundred miles a minute.”
“And this was BP! This was just guys getting hit grounders by the coach. This wasn’t live game action, for crying out loud, far from it. And it still felt like it was all racing by at double speed.”
No other sport tends to turn pro athletes into cowed acolytes more than golf does, though, probably because so many athletes play it, some of them awfully well, and possibly because the nature of that sport (as opposed to the physical brutality of football or hockey, or the highly skilled and highly specific talents necessary for baseball or basketball).
Athletes tend to be just arrogant enough to believe they’re better at other sports than they really are. Still, good as Cal Ripken was at pickup basketball, it was never likely he was going to sign a 10-day contract with the Bucks.
Golf, though? You can shave your handicap low enough through the basics — strength, hand-eye coordination, fitness — to talk yourself into playing that game at a pretty high level …
… until you see it, up close.
“These guys will make you sick,” Phil Simms said, laughing, a few years ago, after spending some time inside the ropes when one of the majors had come to the area. Simms has played golf for years, he can handle himself awfully well on the course. But as someone who has known what it’s like to be great in one sport, he could also identify how rare the gift is to be great in another.
“The things they can do with a ball,” he said. “It really is incredible to watch. It just sounds different when they hit it.”
Russell Wilson, his fellow QB, would agree: It certainly does.
Well, Sean Miller is either the world’s most convincing liar or he has been publicly wronged in a way that’s almost unprecedented, especially in college athletics. There doesn’t seem to be much available gray area there.
Of all the egregious moves they have made at Madison Square Garden the past few years, one of the very worst was taking Tina Cervasio off Knicks games a couple seasons back. Good for FOX 5 for making her the new host of “Sports Xtra,” carrying on the grand legacy established more than 40 years ago by the great Bill Mazer.
I was covering a Devils playoff game years ago and someone asked Patrik Elias a question that referenced “Czechoslovakia,” and Elias patiently and politely explained that wasn’t the name of his country anymore before answering the hockey portion of the question. One of my all-time favorites, happy to see his number in the rafters at Prudential Center.
That sound you heard? The Seattle Seahawks organization collectively exhaling that the Russell Wilson Experiment ended with nothing sprained, strained or sustained.
Whack Back at Vac
Andy Wyman: I remember in 1961, when Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris put it all together, I loved watching from the right-field bleachers: my grandpa, dad and me. I hope these new guys can measure up.
Vac: One of the coolest things I’ve witnessed about this Yankees team is just how profoundly it seems to have engaged Yankees fans of all generation.
Jeff Sanders: I’m a huge Giants fan going back to Y.A. Tittle and Del Shofner. The Giants must draft Saquon Barkley with their No. 2 pick. In my mind, it’s a no brainer!
Vac: I think Barkley is far more of a sure thing than any of the ballyhooed quarterbacks, and I’d hate to watch him the next 8-10 years knowing I could’ve had him.
@lesliebialler: Frankly, when I see “Harvey” in a baseball headline now I’ve gone back to thinking “Doug” first.
@MikeVacc: Or “Haddix,” too, I suppose.
Rick Bause: Any list of best New York GMs is remiss without Branch Rickey, who changed the face of sports in America by signing Jackie Robinson. Although the Dodgers never won a World Series under Rickey’s watch, he built the team that won six pennants in 10 years and won Brooklyn’s only championship in 1955.
Vac: Yep. As Rick and others have pointed out, that was a whiff on my part.
Miami (AFP) – Super Bowl champion quarterback Russell Wilson struck out swinging for the New York Yankees in a Major League Baseball pre-season game Friday on his first professional plate appearance since 2011.
NFL Seattle Seahawks star Wilson, who was also considered a solid baseball prospect in his college days, had not swung a bat competitively since June 2011 in a minor-league stint with the Asheville Tourists, a development club for the Colorado Rockies.
In 2012, Wilson dropped baseball to pursue an NFL career and in just his second season won a Super Bowl crown with the Seahawks. Seattle nearly repeated as champion before a last-minute loss to New England in the 2015 Super Bowl.
But Wilson has dabbled in baseball even as he has known NFL success, going to spring training with the Texas Rangers twice before getting a chance with the Yankees.
The difference on Friday was that he was given a chance to test himself with bat in hand for the Yankees against the Atlanta Braves in a pre-season contest at Tampa, Florida, according to the club’s website.
Nearly seven years after grounding into a double play against the Rome (Georgia) Braves, Wilson took the count to 2-balls and 2-strikes against Atlanta Braves pitcher Max Fried before striking out swinging on a 93-mph fastball.
Wilson had worked out with the Yankees since Monday, taking fielding drills and batting practice. He is expected to depart this weekend.
Wilson said he had been in contact with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider about the possibility of appearing for the Yankees.
“We’re communicating the whole time,” Wilson said. “The reality is, I’ve always been working out, always been training. They know that. That’s part of my game. I’m definitely not sitting on the couch.”
Carroll told reporters at the NFL scouting combine that he had no problem with Wilson appearing at the plate.
“He reports in impeccable condition. He’s extraordinarily dedicated to doing everything right,” Carroll said. “He’s playing baseball. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that at all.”
Wilson said he soaked up the atmosphere in the locker room for the 27-time World Series champion Yankees and a lineup expected to contend again this season.
“The discipline that it takes to be great, that this organization has pride and tradition, you feel that. That’s real,” Wilson said. “There’s a reason why they’ve won 27 world championships.”
It’s been nearly three years since Russell Wilson first made headlines for claiming he solved a concussion with water — a claim that has no scientific backing and is honestly pretty terrible to say in an age where so many people are trying to figure out a way to stop NFL player and other athletes from suffering from the terrible things that come with repeated head trauma and multiple concussions.
But, apparently people are still buying his claims.
Including, according to the New York Times, the Yankees’ Clint Frazier, who was experiencing concussion symptoms this week after a collision with the wall.
From the New York Times:
Then, on the advice of Russell Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks quarterback who is in camp this week with the Yankees, Frazier began drinking water — and lots of it.
Frazier guzzled six 12-ounce bottles over an hour or so Wednesday morning, and suddenly the symptoms diminished. His headache dissipated and his hunger returned.
“I don’t know for sure,” Frazier said with a laugh, estimating that he had drank a gallon of water. “But it pumps oxygen to your brain a lot, so I feel alive right now. Maybe I was lacking water; I don’t know. Maybe I just feel good.”
Of course there’s nothing bad about drinking water. Everyone should be hydrated! But there’s no evidence it helps concussions — or (and we’re looking at you Tom Brady) is a replacement for sunscreen.
Even Wilson at one point sort of seemed to know this. Or at least know well enough to say it.
After the backlash to his claims in 2015, he clarified to ESPN that he wasn’t actually diagnosed with a concussion — meaning that his Recovery Water didn’t cure any sort of head injury.
“I didn’t have a concussion,” he said. “I guess it was perceived wrong. I did not have a concussion. I was saying that I had been consistently drinking the water for a month and a half — five, seven times a day. And I was like, ‘Man, maybe this stuff is helping me out.’”
According to the Times, Frazier was seen by a doctor outside of the Yankees organization and avoided most baseball activities. He credited the water with helping him feel better when he started to feel better nearly five days after suffering the injury.
Read more over at The New York Times.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson could soon be playing in a spring training game with the Yankees, and coach Pete Carroll is playing it coy when it comes to his support.
At the NFL Scouting Combine Thursday, coach Pete Carroll was pressed about whether he would give his blessing for his star quarterback to play in a Grapefruit League game with the Yankees, but he wasn’t willing to give a straight answer. Instead, he gave a scouting report highlighting areas Wilson could improve his baseball game.
“So far he’s not doing a great job going with the pitches away from him, and we’re hoping that he’s going to start putting the ball into right field a bit more and going with the pitch,” Carroll said while trying to hold back a smile. “Aside from that, the curve ball is still giving him a problem like it always did back in the day, so we’ll see what happens.”
While Carroll’s scouting report may have been a creative way to deflect a question he didn’t want to answer, Carroll did offer some support saying he didn’t think there was anything wrong with Wilson training with the Yankees during the offseason.
“He’s going to be working out and doing something anyway. He reports in impeccable condition. He’s extraordinarily dedicated to doing everything he can to be right, I don’t think at this early stage right now, they’re not in the program here, there’s a lot of free time and guys have to do their thing,” Carroll said. “Some guys are maybe traveling around the world, he’s playing baseball. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that at all.”
Although Wilson is best known as Seattle’s quarterback, he was a multi-sport athlete in college playing second base at North Carolina State. He was a fourth-round pick by the Colorado Rockies in 2010, but he opted for a football career over baseball. He transferred to the University of Wisconsin for his final year of eligibility where he was drafted as a third-round pick by the Seahawks in 2012.
SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Lindsay H. Jones and Lorenzo Reyes recap Day 1 of the NFL Scouting Combine, which also featured Ryan Shazier news and a Jon Gruden appearance. USA TODAY Sports
INDIANAPOLIS – Pete Carroll has caught just enough video of his star quarterback Russell Wilson’s spring training fling with the New York Yankees to offer a pointed – though likely tongue-in-cheek – critique of Wilson’s performance.
“So far he’s not doing a great job going with the pitches away from him, and we’re hoping that he’s going to start putting the ball into right field a bit more and going with the pitch,” Carroll said Thursday morning at the NFL scouting combine. “Aside from that, the curve ball is still giving him a problem like it always did back in the day, so we’ll see what happens.”
Carroll’s scouting report came as a way to deflect a question on if he would actually give his blessing for Wilson to play in a Grapefruit League game with the Yankees this month, as Yankees general manager Brian Cashman indicated to NorthJersey.com and the USA TODAY Network on Tuesday would need to happen before he was allowed to do anything in camp beyond taking batting practice and fielding ground balls.
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The Yankees acquired the rights to Wilson from the Texas Rangers in February. Wilson, a second baseman at North Carolina State, was a fourth-round pick by the Colorado Rockies in the 2010 but picked a football career over baseball. He finished his college career at the University of Wisconsin and then was a third-round pick by the Seahawks in 2012.
While Carroll might not want his franchise’s most important player facing live Major League Baseball pitching, the coach loves that Wilson is spending his downtime with the Yankees, surrounded by other elite athletes.
“He’s going to be working out and doing something anyway. He reports in impeccable condition. he’s extraordinarily dedicated to doing everything he can to be right, i don’t think at this early stage right now, they’re not in the program here, there’s a lot of free time and guys have to do their thing,” Carroll said. “Some guys are maybe traveling around the world, he’s playing baseball. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that at all.”
Follow Lindsay H. Jones on Twitter @bylindsayhjones.