By HAL McCOY
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave while loving the way the baseball playoffs are going: The Big Blue Empire (Los Angeles Dodgers) is gone and the low budget Tampa Bay Rays made a statement.
Both the Cardinals-Nationals and Astros-Yankees should be dandy LCS match-ups. My picks? A Nationals-Astros World Series. And remember, I had to be one of the very few before the season to pick Washington to win the World Series, although I didn’t shout it from atop the Washington Monument.
—The Rays had the lowest payroll in the majors this season ($53 million) and the least appreciative fans. They averaged 14,734 fans per home game, second lowest in the majors.
That’s about 1,000 more fans than the University of Dayton basketball team averages in UD Arena.
Obviously, the Rays don’t give away enough bobbleheads and don’t have enough Bark in the Park Nights.
The dungeon they call home, Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, doesn’t help. It is rumored that Mary, Queen of Scots, was executed there.
—QUOTE: From noted quipster and Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra: “If fans don’t come, you can’t make ‘em and it leaves a lot of empty seats.”
—If you haven’t been fired this year as a Major League manager, you aren’t trying hard enough.
Managers who have been asked to clean out their desks drawers of the empty beer cans (so far): Pittsburgh’s Clint Hurdle, Chicago’s Joe Maddon, New York’s Mickey Calloway, Philadelphia’s Gabe Kapler, Los Angeles/Anaheim’s Brad Ausmus.
In addition, Kansas City’s Ned Yost and San Francisco’s Bruce Bochy retired. That’s eight openings for those with masochistic personalities.
—QUOTE: From former Houston Oilers coach Bum Phillips: “There’s two kinds of coaches, thems that’s fired and thems that’s gonna get fired.”
—Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield can’t open his mouth to call a play without sticking his foot in it. Or maybe that’s 49ers linebacker Nick Bosa sticking a foot in Mayfield’s mouth.
Nonetheless, Mayfield took a bad rap when the 49ers Richard Sherman eviscerated him for allegedly not shaking hands before the game. Video showed that Mayfield did shake hands and Sherman shamefully apologized.
Mayfield came up with the perfect squelch when he said, “I know what I did, but that’s the one time a camera and something recording me has gone in my favor.”
Because of his mouth and brashness, Mayfield is a marked man. Every defensive player wants a large chunk of him. Advice: “Shut up and play.” No, make that, “Shut up and play better.”
—Because of his long list of post-season failures, LA’s Clayton Kershaw and the word choke is becoming synonymous. That’s truly unfair. The guy has been one of baseball’s best pitchers for a long time, although he definitely is a struggle bunny in the playoffs.
What is unfair is that some baseball people kept comparing him to Sandy Koufax. That’s unfair to both Koufax and Kershaw. The only things they have in common are that both their names start with ‘K’ and both are left handed.
There once was a noted country fiddler named Doug Kershaw who played a song called, ‘Ain’t Gonna Get Me Down.’ Clayton? Listen up.
—QUOTE: From hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, a great baseball fan: “I knew at a young age, whether I was playing baseball or hockey, that my teammates were counting on me, whether it be to strike the last batter our in baseball game or score a big goal in a hockey game.” (Kershaw gets to spend the winter knowing the last two pitches he threw in 2019 were hit out of the park.)
—Words I have never used in a story in my 57 years of journalism (until now): inculcate, casserole, crinkly, evince, tarnation, tampons, Shetland, asparagus and broccoli (I hate both), lawnmower, orthodontist, vertiginous, Martha Stewart (I’ve used Martha and I’ve used Stewart, but never together).