By HAL McCOY
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave after a visit to the dermatologist to have my face frozen and zapped — so why didn’t I wear sun screen all those hot summer days of tennis in the sun?
—It was mostly all quiet on the trading and signing front for baseball during the holiday season.
So pitcher Dallas Keuchel, the best remaining free agent starting pitcher, is still on the shopping shelf.
He and his persistent and obstinate agent, Scott Boras, are clinging to their demand for a five-year or six-year contract.
That has caused the Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies to back off on such a long-term deal. Clearly, the Reds learned a valuable lesson with their seven-year deal for Homer Bailey that gained them absolutely nothing.
And it has been reported that Keuchel’s former team, the Houston Astros, are lurking in the background ready to recapture the big left hander because they have a need for a couple of starters. In addition, the Angels and Brewers remain interested.
So what remains on the free agent market worthy of pursuing for the Reds? None are top-level, all are mid-level, but any could help fill out the rotation.
There is Derek Holland, Wade Miley, Gio Gonzalez and Clay Buchholz. Holland reported on Twitter that the Reds want him and Cincinnati certainly has interest in Miley.
If the Reds can’t sign a free agent, there is still the trade route, although it is looking more and more like the Cleveland Indians might keep Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer, although the Dodgers continue to pursue a possible deal with the Tribe for Kluber, as are the Padres.
Other Reds possibilities on the trade front include Sonny Gray and Marcus Stroman. There are, though, some drawbacks on those two.
Gray was dropped from the Yankees rotation last season and posted a 4.94 earned run average in 130 1/3 innings. And he probably will win a $9.1 million contract in arbitration. Mix in the fact that he can become a free agent after 2019, although that didn’t stop the Reds from acquiring Alex Wood, Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp from the Dodgers, even though all three can become free agent after next season.
Stroman made only 19 starts last season for the Blue Jays with a 5.54 earned run average because he had shoulder and blister issues. And the Padres, rich with prospects, are in on Stroman if the Blue Jays want to deal him.
—QUOTE: From an anonymous St. Louis baseball writer: “Allan Sutton Sothoron pitched his initials off today.” (A.S.S., born in Bradford, Ohio, was 91-99 with a 3.31 ERA for 11 years, mostly with the St. Louis Browns beginning in 1914.)
—There were a couple of omens before bowl games that foretold game outcomes. An eagle landed on a Notre Dame fan’s head before the Fighting Irish were the Floundering Irish against Clemson.
Then before the Sugar Bowl, they foolishly introduced the Texas mascot, Bevo the Longhorn, to Georgia’s mascot, Uga the bulldog. Uga was wearing a red blanket and Bevo tried to charge him.
How crazy was it to put a red-clad dog in front of a ferocious longhorn? It was a sign. Texas took apart the George Bulldogs.
—QUOTE: From Jay Mohr, comedian/actor/radio host: “If your team has to sell its mascot, your team sucks.” (Does that begin to explain why the Cincinnati Reds have four mascots?)
—This is a surprising, no astounding, factoid that seems unbelievable, but true.
The Ohio State Buckeyes are not even in the Top Seven in all-time bowl victories. After their win over Washington in this year’s Rose Bowl, the Buckeyes have won 23 bowl games. And they’ve lost 24. That includes the 1979 Gator Bowl when OSU coach Woody Hayes punched Clemson’s Charlie Bauman late in the game, a punch that cost Woody his job..
Alabama leads all schools in bowl victories with 40. Southern California has 38, Georgia has 31, Oklahoma has 29, Penn State has 29, Texas has 29 and Tennessee has 28.
—QUOTE: From legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant: “Mama wanted me to be a preacher. Well, coachin’ and preachin’ were a lot alike.” (The Bear and his houndstooth hat did a lot of preachin’ about winning and he won 15 of those 40 bowl games won by Alabama.)
—Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins still hasn’t revealed if he is turning pro or if he is returning to the Buckeyes next season.
Of all the college quarterbacks, Haskins’ pocket-passing style is most suited to the NFL, although Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson might be changing that thinking.
With three touchdown passes in the Rose Bowl, Haskins threw three or more TD passes in 10 of his 14 games, the most in Big Ten history
And his 50 touchdown passes last season made him the first to do so since Derek Carr did it at Fresno State in 2013.
—QUOTE: From Don Shula, former Baltimore Colts and Miami Dolphins coach: “Sure, luck means a lot in football. Not having a good quarterback is bad luck.” (Urban Meyer made sure his luck was good when he installed Tim Tebow as quarterback at Florida and Dwayne Haskins as quarterback at Ohio State.)
—Are the Pittsburgh Steelers the NFL’s version of the Kardashians. Nothing but drama. The latest is wide receiver Antonio Brown missing Saturday’s run-through practice before last Sunday’s game with the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Steelers took him off the roster for the game, a bold move, but one that didn’t hurt them against the Bengals enough to cost them a victory.
It is reported that Brown and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger are not buddies and barely co-exist. Some Steelers fans are calling for the head of coach Mike Tomlin. How ridiculous is that? He would be out of a job for about 10 minutes.