Readers agree: Tony Vitello of Tennessee baseball team doesn’t need to change
Readers agree: Tony Vitello of Tennessee baseball team doesn’t need to change

My literary staff and I agree on a few things this week: No mercy and no reason for change for Tennessee baseball coach Tony Vitello.

Wade writes: Thanks for pointing out that the LSU record for most home runs in a season was set with high performance aluminum bats in 1997. You couldn’t be more correct. Today’s BBCOR bats would be considered “dead” by any hitter using either type and comparing them.

In addition to that solid argument, however, my son Reece made an even more compelling argument for why the Vols, the 2024 national champions, are truly the best home run hitting team in college baseball history. In 1997, there was no mercy rule shortening games.

LSU has played every inning this season. If I remember his count correctly, the 2024 Vols had 22 games shortened by one or more innings due to the mercy rule. It’s safe to assume that this team would have hit 5 more bombs if they had been given 30+ extra innings.

My answer: I share your ruthless approach to baseball.

Thank God there was no mercy rule in my softball league in Manhattan, Kansas, when I was in the Army. A mercy rule would have denied my Crawfish team a one-run rally in our final at-bat in a 36-2 loss to Ken’s Den (a team full of Kansas State football players).

Donna writes: I listened to the Tony Basilio Show broadcast you referenced twice. Your heartfelt follow-up article beautifully captured the essence of Vitello’s authenticity and impact on college baseball.

I am simply blown away by Coach Vitello’s transformation of our baseball program. What an incredible journey this has been for the loyal Vols fans. It seems like we have been waiting for a coach like this our entire lives.

My answer: Vitello says what he thinks and celebrates success unashamedly. This sometimes leads to criticism, especially from the fun police.

But that’s exactly why the program is so popular with Tennessee fans. And that’s why so many good players want to become Vols.

Don writes: I really liked your story about the strangers who became friends on a strange trip to Omaha. It reminded me of John Candy in Home Alone. You know, where the mom is stuck in the airport and is rescued by John Candy and the polka band. They drive her in the back of a truck to Chicago just in time for Christmas.

My answer: John Candy and I have known each other for a long time. We were both at the 1989 Super Bowl at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami.

Super-cool quarterback Joe Montana noticed Candy in the stands and alerted his teammates while tumbling. In the final minutes, he led the 49ers on a game-winning drive that defeated the Cincinnati Bengals.

Montana didn’t notice me.

Duke writes: That was a great travel story, John. It’s so typical of American Airlines.

My wife and I have agreed never to fly on these routes again, even though it is the cheapest.

My answer: Thanks for the travel tip. In my experience, flying with any airline can be a nightmare.

David writes: Thank you for the great article about Tony Vitello. I agree with every word and kudos to you for writing.

Too many sportswriters, even local ones in Knoxville and Tennessee, feel they have to portray Tony, Josh, Barnes, our outstanding administration (Plowman, White and Boyd) or even our most recent addition, Mrs. Caldwell, in an often distorted tone.

My answer: Thanks for the positive email. But I’ve also been accused of being too negative. One of those critics was so incensed by a column that he wished I could be sucked out of my car by an F4 tornado.

I’ve dodged a few tornadoes in my many trips out West, but I’ve never been sucked out of my car by one. But this email underscored the importance of wearing your seatbelt.

ADAM: Tennessee football games look like NASCAR races with corporate logos? Vols fans say no thanks

Terry writes: Great article on Coach Majors and the CFHOF. I completely agree with you on this point. Had Coach not been hit by the Big Orange Screw of 1992 orchestrated by Greedy Phil, he probably would have surpassed his career winning percentage of .572.

My answer: The .600 winning percentage requirement for Hall of Fame membership is too restrictive because it does not take into account coaches who have taken over terrible programs and significantly improved them, as the majors did at Iowa State and Pittsburgh.

Majors is in the Hall of Fame as a player, but he should also be inducted as a coach. Former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a coach.

John Adams is senior columnist. You can reach him at 865-342-6284 or [email protected]Follow him at:

By Liam