Following Mississippi State’s 5-4 loss to Alabama – the second 5-4 loss to the Crimson Tide today – coach John Cohen approached reporters by the third-base dugout and said, “Guys, y’all are going to have to ask questions, because I don’t even, I don’t know what to say.”
So, we asked. I started with a query about baserunning mistakes, in particular the two times freshman C.T. Bradford was thrown out at home in Game 2, and Cohen then launched into a three-minute, 658-word tirade against the baseball gods. He started by respectfully disagreeing with my assessment of the base running, and just picked up steam from there. Eight more times he would say, “I don’t know what to say,” and another time he said, “I’m speechless.”
He was anything but.
So here I give to you the entire transcript of Cohen’s opening answer/statement/rant, whatever you wanna call it. It was borne of pure frustration built up over several weeks, and it was epic.
“We didn’t have any baserunning mistakes. You’re going to have to help me out with that one. Down angle like that, that’s exactly what you do. You go full speed, because you can’t see if the pitcher’s going to make that play or not. That’s just normal baseball. Down angle, you’re supposed to get in a rundown and allow runners to get to second and third, and that’s exactly what we did the first time. Second time we didn’t have time, but he’s got to be down angle right there, especially with that run meaning something. If it gets by the pitcher and he’s still standing on the bag, and he doesn’t score – neither one of those are baserunning mistakes.
“Mistakes we made, we didn’t do a good job controlling the running became, because Jonathan Ogden‘s the best guy at that for us. All he did was block a ball with his freakin’ nose. I don’t know (if it’s broken); there’s a good chance it is. But he goes down to his knees and blocks a ball with his face for Mississippi State University. And that’s how they advance, and that’s how they score a run.
“Also, they’ve got a guy with eight at-bats who’s got three punch-outs on the year (Brett Whitaker), who hits a solo home run off a guy (Caleb Reed) who’s got the lowest ERA, basically, in the Southeastern Conference. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to say. (Ryan) Collins is up there, bases loaded, hits the hardest ball I’ve ever seen him hit, with topspin, at the second baseman. I don’t know what to say.
“When those things are happening to you left and right – we get an error in the first inning, yeah, it’s an error on the board, what is it? Our guy’s framing a pitch, the guy’s stroke is so long it hits Thiggy’s (Wes Thigpen) glove. That’s an error. I don’t know what to say.
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I’ve never seen any of this happen the way it’s happening to us right now. We cut the ball off, we got the guy hung up between first and second base, (Daryl) Norris cuts it, we’ve got the perfect throw from center field, that guy’s out. He short-hops the guy, that’s fine, he’s going to be on second. It short-hops, it hits my guy in the nose, and now he’s going to get to third and he’s going to score. I don’t know what to say. I really, I don’t know what to say.
“Our kids are doing the right things 99 percent of the time, it’s that one percent. Alabama, God bless them, I know they’ve had a tough week, just like we have. The balls are finding the holes for them. I guess that’s just how baseball works. We’re killing balls right at people. We’re not even having this conversation right now if that ball Collins hits, or any one of them – Trey Johnson clubs that ball to right field, the wind blowing out of the stinking southeast, holds it in the yard. When you’re finding barrel and you’re taking great swings over and over and over again, and you’re not scoring – and the ground ball to the middle of the field, (Jarrod) Parks, all I ask him to do is hit a weak ground ball somewhere in the middle of the field. The pitcher gets it. If it’s right or left, the ball’s going to fall, and we’re going to score a run. It’s unbelievable.
“I’ll watch the film, and I’ll throw up. I will not sleep one minute, because things are not going our way, and our kids are busting their tails. We’ve got the best stinking closer maybe in the whole league out there and a guy with eight at-bats on the year hits a solo home run. I’m speechless. I don’t know what to say.”