By HAL McCOY
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, awaiting the snow apocalypse that must be coming, judging by the grocery cart grand prix going on at Kroger.
—There are still five top-level free agent starting pitchers looking for employment, but none seems destined to wear a Cincinnati Reds uniform in 2019.
The latest rumors — and baseball rumors change more often than a guy changing his Duluth Buck Naked Underwear — have the Fab Five all headed elsewhere.
Dallas Keuchel? San Diego. Gio Gonzalez? Oakland. Wade Miley? New York Mets. Drew Pomeranz? Washington. Clay Buchholz? Milwaukee.
The Reds, though, are rumored to still be in discussions with the New York Yankees for left hander Sonny Gray. The Yankees reportedly want two or three of the Reds best minor league pitching prospects.
—QUOTE: From legendary Negro League/Major League pitcher Satchel Paige: “My pitching philosophy is simple: Keep the ball away from the bat.”
—They are sealing off the top deck at Tropicana Park, home of the Tampa Bay Rays. That reduces the park’s capacity to 26,000 seats, smallest in the majors by more than 10,000. And that’s still 20,000 more seats than the Rays need.
—QUOTE: From Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra: “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”
—It was bad enough for Old Blues in Michigan that Ohio State undressed Michigan this year, 62-39. And to rub their noses in it, the Buckeyes hired two University Michigan assistant coaches.
Jim Harbaugh has to be hiding somewhere in the bowels of The Big House, where he can’t hear the newest cheer aimed his way: ‘O-H-O-4.’ Harbaugh is 0-and-4 against the Buckeyes.
—QUOTE: From Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh: “I drink a lot of milk. A lot of milk. Whole milk. Not the candy-ass two per cent or skim milk.” (Wonder if he drank anything stronger, like Dr. Pepper, after the OSU game?)
—As expected Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins is tossing his helmet into the NFL ring. Waiting to take his place is Justin Fields, the transfer from the University of Georgia.
Before Fields arrived, it was expected that Haskins’ backup, Tate Martell, would call signals next season. But now that Fields is studying calculus (or something) at OSU, Martell placed himself in the transfer portal. Maybe Harbaugh can get him.
Like Haskins, Fields is big — 6-foot-3, 225 pounds. Unlike Haskins, Fields can run, a legitimate 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash. And he won’t run around you, he will run over you. Arm? Yes, he has two and his right one is very good.
—QUOTE: From former Ohio State coach Woody Hayes: “The five big mistakes in football are the fumble, the interception, the penalty, the badly called play and the blocked punt. And most of those originate with the quarterback. Find me a mistake-proof quarterback and you have the game won.”
—Speaking of quarterbacks, has there ever been a more polished, composed and talented 19-year-old true freshman than Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence? Ask Alabama.
I had intended to watch only a few opening moments of another Alabama-Clemson national championship game. But I was soon mesmerized.
Crimson was turned into Clemson — turn to ‘ri’ in the Crimson (Tide) to ‘em’ and you have Clemson. Not only that, Clemson removed the ‘bam’ from Alabama in that 44-16 annihilation.
All those talking heads on TV who predicted an Alabama win are now babbling that the Alabama dynasty is now buried in some Dixie graveyard. Oh, those knee jerk reactions.
It was supposed to be a bit of a ‘Bama reload last season and The Tide has nearly everybody back next year. They are trying to transfer the dynasty label to Clemson, which won this year with a load of seniors, Lawrence notwithstanding.
Nick Saban and his staff was severely outprepared and outcoached by Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and his staff. Alabama’s fake field goal, where the Tide had the holder lead the blocking for the kicker on fourth-and-four, was atrocious. And a couple of other fourth down gambles had Las Vegas giggling.
But, like him or not, Saban isn’t finished and it won’t be shocking to see him back in the title game next season. And maybe against Clemson.
—The Cleveland Browns did it right. They hired offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens as head coach. He and quarterback Baker Mayfield are joined at the hip. Once Kitchens took over as OC last season, the Browns offense was as innovative, unpredictable and efficient as any in the NFL.
Bold prediction (save this one to throw in my face, if you wish): The Browns make the playoffs next season.
Why didn’t the Browns keep interim coach Greg Williams? Couple of thoughts. They eventually would have lost Kitchens to another team. Baker Mayfield would have rebelled. And Williams’ past history with the New Orleans Saints (the bounty placed on opposing players) makes him persona non grata. Williams, defensive coordinator for the Saints, was suspended indefinitely after the BountyGate scandal.
QUOTE: From Bill Gates, American entrepreneur: “Everyone needs a coach. It doesn’t matter whether you are a basketball player, a tennis player, a gymnast or a bridge player.”
—When UD’s Flyers fell behind, 33-11, at George Washington Wednesday night, fans all over the Miami Valley clicked off their radios and turned on Last Man Standing re-runs.
Well, the Flyers were not The Last Man Standing. They mounted a furious comeback on the three-point shooting of Jordan Davis, seven of ‘em en route to 25 points.
Knowing that the Flyers rely mostly on the inside scoring of Josh Cunningham and Obi Toppin, GW constructed an igloo around the basket and prevented penetrating passes.
That permitted Davis to let it fly. He hasn’t had a good season shooting from outside the line, but he stepped up and astounded GW coach Maurice Joseph, he thought he had the perfect plan. “We didn’t think that kid could shoot that well,” he said glumly.
—QUOTE: From former Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight: “The key is not the will to win. Everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.”