Warning. Before you click on this link, make sure you've had breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Make sure you've used the toilet, and make sure you've set your DVR to record anything that you might conceivably want to watch for the next two weeks. That's how long this thing is. (And while I'm not absolutely sure there's a link, I did come down with the flu within hours of receiving this on Friday night, so beware).
I would call this a manifesto, but "manifesto" fails to do it justice. It's a 16,000-plus word rant on everything that is evil about UH baseball coach Rayner Noble, as written from the somewhat-biased viewpoint of a parent whose son played (though not often enough) under Noble. And it's got everything one could want in such an internet missive, including changing font sizes, bold print, underlined print, ALL CAPS, different colors, non-sequiturs, conspiracy theories, a complete lack of objectivity, and -- despite saying to look at the facts countless times -- an almost complete lack of facts.
Our hero is Vinny Raviele, a genius who claims to have invented the vehicle anti-theft device. And he addresses his rant to UH President Renu Khatur and the new AD Mack Rhoades. It begins modestly: "This story is about a University of Houston baseball player whose college career (2006-2009) was destroyed by the head baseball coach (Rayner Noble) at the University of Houston." (Emphasis in the original.)
The player was Vinny's son Jimmy, who just completed his senior year at Houston. And through the next 16,000-plus words, Vinny expounds on how his son was the greatest pitching sensation since Greg Maddux -- seriously, dad compares Jimmy to Maddux. And he expounds on how Coach Noble -- who is a false Christian because he cusses like a sailor -- set out to purposefully destroy Jimmy's career because Jimmy was not one of Noble's chosen ones.
But before we can get to this point, Vinny tells us about how Little League parents and coaches tried to destroy Jimmy and then how the JV high-school coach tried to destroy Jimmy. Oh, and I need to tell you, Vinny is a baseball-talent expert because he was the head of Lamar National Little League.
Then comes the time for college. First, Jimmy's so good that there are major league teams that want to draft him, but Vinny says only if Jimmy's a top pick. Then Jimmy's trying out for colleges -- he doesn't need a scholarship though because Vinny's rich -- and he selects the University of Houston because he's told by the coach that he can pitch, and when he's not pitching, he can play first base because he can hit tape-measure home runs. (For good measure, Vinny also notes that Jimmy broke a college record by running the mile-and-a-half 22 seconds faster than anybody's ever run it, and that he did so on a badly sprained ankle.)
But wait, it gets crazier. From the first day of practice, Noble tells Jimmy he can't play first base. And then he only uses Jimmy from the bullpen. Then he tells Jimmy to junk the knuckleball -- Vinny says Jimmy's knuckler was as good as the one thrown by Boston's Tim Wakefield. And Jimmy only gets to pitch a total of three innings in his freshman year.
Here's where it gets weird. It seems that many of Jimmy's teammates leave to go to other schools because they don't like playing for Noble. And these pro scouts keep appearing to tell Jimmy to leave. But Jimmy never leaves. He sticks it out for the four full years. No matter how often Noble cusses at him -- this is a big evil to Vinny. No matter how often Noble lies to him. No matter how often Noble mistreats him and refuses to make him one of his golden boys, Jimmy sticks it out.
Which is where I call bull on this whole entire story -- as if the rest wasn't enough. But if Jimmy was so damn good, other schools should have been beating down the doors to get to him. After all, it's not uncommon for athletes to transfer schools -- it appears to be a pretty common occurrence with Jimmy's teammates. But Jimmy, despite all of this, despite a coach who hates him, who is deliberately trying to destroy him, sticks around.
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Maybe, just maybe, it's because Jimmy wasn't that good.
For all I know, Rayner Noble is the worst baseball coach in the history of baseball coaches -- which means that he's probably on Drayton McLane's speed-dial to be the next Astros coach -- but there's nothing in Vinny's angry missive to convince me that his son was mistreated and that Noble needs to be fired.
What I read are 16,000-plus words from a wealthy and angry parent who couldn't buy Jimmy a spot in the starting rotation. It's nice that there's a father out there who believes in his child -- especially a daddy who has his very own private jet -- but sometimes, there's this world called reality. From reading this, reality appears to be a world that Vinny hasn't visited in a very long time, at least where Jimmy is concerned. And maybe, just this once, Vinny should have listened to Jimmy -- because Jimmy asked his father not to write this.
For the curious, you can find Jimmy's freshman-through-junior year stats here.