By HAL McCOY
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave while watching the Bengals come close against the Pittsburgh Steelers and simultaneously listening on the radio to the Cleveland Browns come close to the Baltimore Ravens. But you know what they say about coming close — coming close only works with hand grenades and horseshoes.
—Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield’s staredown of Hue Jackson during last week’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals drew world-wide attention as a bush gesture and rightfully so.
But what didn’t draw any attention from the fan drew attention from the NFL and it cost Mayfield. He was fined $10,026.
Why? Apparently he grabbed his crotch as he ran off the field after throwing a 1-yard touchdown pass.
Why the extra $26? State tax? A bonus for the person who spotted it on tape? Certainly that isn’t all that was in Mayfield’s bank account.
Mayfield was extremely good this Sunday against Baltimore, throwing three touchdown passes to set a record for TD passes in a season for a rookie. He threw for 376 yards, but his third interception on fourth down in the last minute stopped the Browns from ending Baltimore’s season. The Ravens won by the width of a bird feather, 26-24.
The Browns ran into a Stonewall. . .Baltimore quarterback Lamar “Stonewall” Jackson in the first half. Remember the cartoon dog who asked the question, “Which way did he go, George. Which way did he go?” That’s what all the Browns were asking about Jackson, especially Browns linebacker Joe Schobert, who missed tackles on Jackson three times in the first half.
QUOTE: From Civil War general Stonewall Jackson: “I like liquor — its taste and its effect — and that’s just the reason why I never drink it.” (I’m not sure if that’s an Absolut quote.)
—As expected, Clemson took apart Notre Dame and Alabama whipped Oklahoma in the NCAA playoff semifinals.
There is no doubt in this corner that Georgia and Ohio State would have been better and more competitive opponents for Clemson and Alabama than were Notre Dame and Oklahoma.
But we’ll never know, will we?
So it is another Alabama-Clemson national championship game and does anybody outside Alabama and South Carolina really care? Let’s hope there is a good college basketball game on TV that night.
—QUOTE: From Bill Shankly, former manager of the Liverpool soccer team: “Some people think football is a matter of life or death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more important than that.” (And you thought Vince Lombardi said that.)
—Wright State University coach Scott Nagy must feel as if he has been bitten by a cottonmouth. The Raiders, playing their first Horizon League game and predicted to win the league, lost in overtime, 75-72, to University of Illinois-Chicago on a last-second three-pointer from the right corner by Travell Washington.
UIC was playing without one of its best players and three players were ejected from the game with 11:23 left for leaving the bench during an on-court skirmish.
The Raiders bounced back Sunday by beating IUPUI (known as uhey-pooey), 72-64, behind 22 points by Billy Wampler and 20 by quick-and-agile guard Cole Gentry, who is as lyrical on a basketball court at Cole Porter. The Raiders are 1-and-1 in the Horizon league.
—University of Dayton forward Obi Toppin made ESPN’s SportsCenter’s Top Ten (No. 3) with his classic dunk Saturday against Georgia Southern. He took the basketball through his legs while in the air before dunking it home.
Said his coach, Anthony Grant, “That was a little risque for me. But there aren’t many players on this earth who can make that play.”
The Flyers finished pre-conference play 8-and-5, losing some tough games to some Top 50 teams.
The Flyers were picked in the pre-season to finish in the middle of the Atlantic 10 pack but Toppin, who has 35 dunks this season, begs to differ.
“I definitely think we can win the A-10,” he said. “We have a great group of guys who play together. We’ve been playing good and if we continue to play good we can win it.”
QUOTE: From former NBA star Charles Barkley: “I’m not a role model. Just because I can dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.” (Not even Barkley ever put a basketball between his legs while in the air en route to a dunk, not in a game.)
—One wonders sometimes what the thinking might be in the Cincinnati Reds front office. On December 10 they claimed left handed pitcher Robby Scott off waivers from the Boston Red Sox. Then 11 days later they designated him for assignment and on Sunday they ‘traded’ him to Arizona for cash considerations. It makes one wonder why they claimed him in the first place, although they did gain a few bucks.