After dominating the sport for two years and landing a record contract, can an athlete raise expectations even more merely by speaking at a press conference?
You and I would have laughed at such a notion as early as breakfast time Wednesday morning. Then Gerrit Cole stepped on the stage here at Yankee Stadium.
Wow. Best first impression ever.
“If we’re going to do it,” Hal Steinbrenner said of his $324 million, nine-year commitment to Cole, after watching him crush his introductory day, “then it needs to be a guy like this.”
Look, New York tests and taxes ballplayers in a way that Pittsburgh and Houston just don’t, and this discussion won’t cover a freak injury, or simple physical wear and tear. But I’ll go out on a limb and say that, if Cole fails in The Bronx because of mental or emotional shortcomings, because of his inability to get out of his own way, then it will go down as an enormous surprise.
If DJ LeMahieu didn’t already own “The Machine” as a moniker, then Cole could claim it for himself, for he came off as the prototype ace that the Yankees’ analytics folks would design in a laboratory.
“His passion for what he does, his ability to…