This is a true story. When I lived in northern NJ as a wee youngster, I spent several summers immersed in the world of Little League baseball. Before I knew what professional cycling was, I had (ever so brief) illusions of playing for the NY Mets. From the highest point in South Orange, one could see the NYC skyline and for a summer or two I thought that, just maybe, my life’s path would involve playing a handful of miles away in Shea Stadium.
Well, it didn’t take too many trips to the plate before it became stunningly evident that the hand-eye coordination to hit a baseball is a skill I do not possess. The skill I did possess was crowding the plate so I could get beaned and mosie along to first. Then the fun started - I could start stealing bases. We had a green light to steal if the catcher made mistakes mishandling pitches, but otherwise we were under strict orders to wait for our coach’s signal to steal. And straight out of Bad News Bears, the signal to steal was when the coach lit up a new cigarette. No joke. One can only imagine how much smoke our bench inhaled per game, but orders are orders and I don’t think anybody intercepted our SIGINT…
|Photo ©: Mark Zalewski/Cyclingnews.com (URL)|
Fast forward to yesterday’s USPRO crit championships in Downers Grove, IL. TIAA-CREF DS Jonathan Vaughters is providing late-race instructions to Brad Huff and company, guidance which will soon result in a US championship for the uber-talented Huff. This is the covert sign which says, “Make sure Huff gets to the last turn in the top 2, but be well aware of carrying too much heat - those barriers are a bitch.”
Not exactly something one learns in “Director Sportif 101″, but Vaughters certainly believes in doing things his own way. At least Vaughters is still rail-thin. Be glad he’s not flaunting the physique of a Manolo Saiz. Now that Vaughters’ unconventional communications have been compromised, one can only wonder what he’ll have to come up with to direct his bevy of young talent in the upcoming USPRO road race in Greenville. I’ll be there, camera in hand, to chronicle his next move.