LBS spoke with former Yankees All-Star shortstop Bucky Dent Monday. We talked with the 1978 World Series MVP about the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, his infamous home run to beat the Sox, and if he has any desire to get back into coaching. We also discussed some of the issues in Major League Baseball including instant replay and playoff expansion.
Dent spoke with us after he participated in an autograph session for the SUBWAY® Baseball DeSIGNS tour, a unique traveling national tour of more than 40 baseballs designed by kids and autographed by celebrities. You can see some of the autographed balls at Subwaykids.com. The balls will be auctioned off from August 19th-28th with proceeds going to help Little League baseball.
Our interview follows.
LBS: Were you surprised that the Red Sox got to Mariano Rivera Sunday night?
Dent: I’ve seen a stat where Boston’s been one of the teams that’s given him the most trouble. Anything can happen in Boston — they have a good team, they have a good offensive team. Mo’s been a tremendous closer — a Hall of Fame guy — sometimes that happens. Sometimes you have a team that you just struggle with and it seems like Boston’s the one that gives him the most trouble.
LBS: The Red Sox used to be a team that never could get over the hump. Is it surprising to see them as a team that can win big games?
Dent: Well you know, that’s what happens. You go so long and can’t seem to get over the hump and then finally you win. They have a bunch of guys who are gritty-type players who know they can do it now because they’ve done it before. There’s not that doubt, there’s not that feeling of uncertainty. They have a good team and they know how to win, so it doesn’t surprise me right now.
LBS: Take me back to the postseason in ’78 when you won World Series MVP. How does something like that happen, do you just start seeing the ball really well?
Dent: Well sometimes you get in a zone. It can happen over the course of a year a couple times where you just feel good and see the ball, and everything’s clicking for you. It just happened for me starting with the Red Sox series. Just felt comfortable, saw the ball real well, and you just get in that zone. You know you hear athletes talk about it ‘I was really in the zone, felt good, and the ball was slowing down’ — well that’s what happens.
LBS: You hit a big home run like that and it’s something that people remember forever. Being on the other end of it, do you have all the benefits people say come with such a memorable moment? Do you never have to buy another drink in New York? Is that really the case?
Dent: No, no. When I hit the home run, went to the World Series, and became the Most Valuable Player, one of my closest friends called me and said ‘That home run’s going to change your life.’ Which it did.
Sports is a game of moments and it seemed like time stopped when the Red Sox and Yankees were playing that day. Everybody was watching the game, it was a Jewish holiday so everybody remembers where they were. It was two teams in the Yankees and Red Sox which doesn’t happen very often and people just remember it. Yankees fans will tell me they remember it, Red Sox fans will tell me they hate me. It was just a special feeling because those are the things you dream of when you’re playing in the backyard.
LBS: A lot of people have complained that when the Yankees and Red Sox play, the games take a long time. Do you understand that complaint at all, does it bother you or not?
Dent: Well the games seem to drag. Sunday I flew from Columbus, Ohio to New York and the game was still on at 12:15am. I was like ‘wow, this is a long game’ and they were just getting into the 10th inning. They keep saying they want to try and speed em up, but then again you got five minutes in between innings for commercials, and you’ve got pitchers that are slow on the mound.
You know I was watching my son play college baseball in the SEC and they have a 20-second timer on the wall. As soon as they get it they have 20 seconds to throw it otherwise it’s a ball or strike on the hitter. Unless they enforce what they’re talking about, they’re going to last like this forever.
LBS: It sounds like it’s something you would support if they made similar efforts to the SEC to speed it up.
Dent: Absolutely. If you’re going to try and speed the game up, then you have to try and make the guys aware of what’s going to happen.
LBS: There’s a couple of other changes they’re discussing. It kind of felt like the need came up when Jerry Meals blew the call late in extra innings. Do you support expanded use of instant replay, or would you prefer if everything remained in the hands of the umpires?
Dent: I think balls and strikes should be in the umpires’ hands, but plays that mean the outcome of the game like plays at the plate, or a home run ball that hits the fence, or a ball that goes down the line, or something like that. Why do you have instant replay if you’re not going to use it? I think balls and strikes would be tough, but the other parts of the game. That’s what it’s there for.
LBS: Another thing they’ve discussed is expanding the playoffs. Do you think that ruins anything at all or do you like it?
Dent: I know the commissioner is talking about expanding and I’m really not for that. The season is long enough as it is and I know you want to give another team a chance to get in there, but that’s why the Red Sox game in ’78 — I don’t think you’re going to see another one like that. You’re not going to see it where two teams are tied and fighting for the division, because now one team can win the division and the other team can win the wild card.
I don’t like it. I don’t like adding more teams. I think it’s working the way it is right now and the baseball season is long enough as it is, it’s stretched out past October almost into November. I’m really not for expansion.
LBS: I know you’ve done coaching and managing for different organizations. Is there any job out there or with a certain organization that would appeal to you?
Dent: Right now I’m enjoying what I’m doing. I left Cincinnati in ’07 and I said I was going to take a few years off and just go watch my kids. My son plays for Florida and had a chance to go to the College World Series this year and my daughter plays softball for North Carolina State. Right now I’m content with what I’m doing. Maybe in a couple years I might try and get back in the game as a coach, but right now I’m really happy with what I’m doing.Google+