is in his 19th season as head coach at Florida Atlantic University, where
he has compiled a record of 650-403-4. Overall, he has a record of 790-453-9 - a
.631 winning percentage - in 22 years. FAU has reached the NCAA regionals seven
times under Cooney, including each of the past four seasons. This is the third year
Cooney has offered his
thoughts on baseball - and other things - for CollegeBaseballInsider.com.
Feb. 13, 2006
The Salukis and No. 98
This weekend brings the
Salukis of Southern Illinois University to Boca for a three-game set without
a drop of rain in the forecast.
I was impressed by some of our players who were able to explain what
constitutes a Saluki. One of our pitchers also correctly identified SIU’s most
famous athletic alumnus - Walt “Clyde” Frazier of the New York Knicks. Growing
up in northeast New Jersey, I spent many nights listening to Marv Albert
describe the head-to-head battles of Frazier and Earl “The Pearl” Monroe of the
Baltimore Bullets. This was, of course, before Marv became the poster boy for
SIU has a long history of solid baseball and won 38 games last season, so we
should expect a real good challenge this weekend. It’s our goal to limit the
Salukis to 27 outs in the game. To do this, we need to play defense in the
manner we’re capable of doing. Last week is over. Coach Roig spent a lot of
quality time on defense in practice, and Coach Fossas seems to have gotten the
pitchers’ attention regarding the dangers of walking and hitting the opponent’s
A good friend sent me an e-mail last week with the subject: “First Stupid
Quote of the Year.” My preseason quote about finding more out about Mickey
Storey when he fails was included, with the admonition that I got what I wanted.
Naturally, I didn’t want Storey to fail, but now that he has, we expect him to
bounce right back and throw a dog collar around the Salukis.
have mercy on a man who doubts what he’s sure of
That line ends a song about relationships, and how the person we think we
know best, including ourselves, could just be a “brilliant disguise.” After last
night’s game, it applies to me and our bullpen.
If there was one plus at the season’s beginning, it was our bullpen. But with
injuries to Brett Cannon and Mike McBryde, roles have changed, and the results
have been mixed.
Despite that, a six-run lead entering the eighth should have been a lock.
The Salukis battled back against three pitchers to pull within two runs after
eight. Mickey Storey had pitched brilliantly through six innings, looking like
the Storey of old. But the job of the staff is to turn a game over to relievers
so our starters have something left late in the season.
The result wasn’t what we planned.
Two hits, a sac bunt, followed by our first error tied the score. Another
Saluki hit drove a stake through our hearts.
So now, I need to head for the training room to figure out a lineup. McBryde
is probably still unavailable, and Robbie Widlansky left in the fourth with his
own pulled hamstring.
Maybe we should go back to not stretching.
Today is another big challenge early in our season.
Are you ready for some football???
Two pulled hamstrings and a recovering pulled quad…is that what stretching
before and after practice gets you? Whatever happened to the theory that we
shouldn’t stretch ‘cause racehorses don’t?
We’ve been pretty religious about our conditioning, but today was time for a
After our usual agility warm up, I tossed Coach Roig a football and divided
our guys into a “shirts and skins” football game. The hell with stretching,
let’s have some fun! Coach Roig was the QB for both teams, and he had a good
game, but the MVP was Jason Blilie, another wideout with great moves and blazing
speed. His Escalade should be here next week.
The baseball game was fun, too, despite the umpires requiring us to wear
shirts. We scored two runs in four different innings, and then broke the pattern
with four in the eighth. Tim Mascia and Mike McKenna each had four hits. Chris
Salberg threw a gem, and the bullpen held up this time. The result was a shutout
and the pitchers get to hit BP today.
This is a touchy subject, but here we go.
My son Jeff is back at FAU hoping to make a better effort at his schoolwork
with his eye on someday coaching. His English class had an assignment to write
an essay based on a famous dissertation about art. The aspect of the article he
chose to focus on was perspective, and how it affects a person’s perception of
the artist’s work.
He asked for some help and we kicked around a few ideas. I think he wrote a
pretty good paper.
The point is that we all see things from a different perspective.
Parents and coaches don’t always share the same perspective, despite usually
hoping to see the same result - a successful young man. Just as “beauty is in
the eye of the beholder,” (hey- two women found me attractive enough to marry!)
the talent and plans for a player will sometimes vary or develop differently,
based upon from whose viewpoint you’re looking.
As a coach for 32 years, I’ve grown accustomed to the relationship of parent
People always ask if college coaches have any problems with parents. The
assumption is that it is just a high school thing and ends as soon as a young
man steps on campus.
Many of my fellow coaches adopt a policy that interaction beyond “hello”
ceases after the recruiting process ends. The theory is that any questions or
problems should be resolved by the player dealing directly with his coach. I
never was comfortable with shutting out parents in this manner. Don’t get me
wrong - I’m not encouraging parents to step in, but I would prefer that they
feel comfortable enough to approach me if there is a concern about their son. I
just hope it’s not to complain about playing time.
Coaching is a different type of job, and everybody thinks they know how to do
I wonder if a doctor ever walked into a social setting with his patients,
knowing that many of them feel they know more than he does. Call me paranoid,
but I always get that feeling.
The way I handle it is to remember perspective.
My players are the most important thing in the world to their parents. It
shouldn’t be any other way. But what all of us parents need to do is to try and
broaden our perspective. Society would be better if we parents could hold our
children accountable by striving to see them for what they are, and judging them
by what they do. That’s a hard thing - it really requires a serious change in
But I think that when we constantly side with our kids when they disagree
with a coach, teacher, cop or any other authority figure, we’re not really doing
what Crosby, Stills, and Nash told us - “teach your children.”
Hey - you can “learn more from a three-minute record than you ever learn in
My Dad always joked that we had no school on February 12 because it was his
birthday - not Lincoln’s. If the little guy had lived, he’d be 98 today.
When I talk about fathers and sons, I always wonder how Dad felt about being
cheated out of that relationship. He never knew his father and had to deal with
a stigma that, when you were born in 1908, was a tough one.
Instead of having a father figure, at 13 he became one. My grandmother’s
husband died, and Dad had to quit eighth grade and go to work. There were five
half brothers and sisters to support. He still managed to grow up with a biting
sense of humor and friends who described him to me as “as fine a man as you’d
hope to know.”
Joseph Cooney drove a bus in New Jersey for 30 years and had two sons who
shared his love for baseball. He was blessed with a wife who felt the same and
made sure the boys got to games on time - and turned their backyard into a
baseball field. He was a very religious man who always asked me as I left the
house, “Did you say your prayers?” I never told him about any trouble I may have
gotten into at school ‘cause he would have made me wish I hadn’t.
Of all the regrets in my life, the loss of my father at the time that my
coaching career was starting to click is a big one. I think of the games I wish
he had been here to share. I wish Maggie and Luke knew their Grandpa. I thank
him and God during each national anthem for the life I’ve been given.
Happy birthday Dad.
This time, it looked like the Salukis were on the gridiron, as they pounded
out 17 runs and beat us by a touchdown and a safety.
It was a bad day for our pitchers as we gave up three home runs and two
consecutive five-run innings. Twenty-two hits later, we’re trying to remember
that we actually managed to shut out these guys yesterday.
I think Dan Callahan and his guys will have a good season. They have some
quality arms and a bunch of kids who won’t quit.
We showed some power today as well, as Shapland, Arata and Block all homered.
Arata and Block were high school teammates at Nova, and each of them has a home
run for his first college hit. Sounds like a future trivia question.
job now is to take the good things from this weekend, get some people healthy
and start playing more consistent baseball. Some nice things have happened so
far, but our record is a disappointing 2-4. The schedule doesn’t get any easier,
so I hope we get it going soon.
The Adkins Diet and a Sunday Split (2/7/06)
Here we go again (2/2/06)
Holy Innocents (12/28/05)
When You're Alone (10/11/05)
Another Beginning, a New Beginning, Never Forgetting (9/12/05)
Deja vu all over again (9/1/05)
(photo courtesy of FAU Media Relations Office)