By HAL McCOY
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Sun Room, bleary-eyed from watching too many bowl games involving too many teams that don’t belong in bowl games. Of course, considering some of the cold-weather venues and the lack of fans, some of the bowls were more like punishment than rewards.
—By my accounting, Ohio State beat Clemson Saturday night, 42-15. How is that, you ask. Easy.
In the first half Ohio State reached the red zone four times and scored one touchdown. They settled for three field goals. So, instead of 16-0, it should have been 28-0.
After the third field goal, I said to Nadine, “Nadine, those field goals are going to come back to bite the Buckeyes in the posterior.” And she said, “How come they keep running the ball right up the middle when that’s where all the defensive guys are?” Very astute.
Then there was the fumble-and-score by Ohio State that the replay booth took away. Clemson receiver Justyn Ross clearly caught a pass, took three steps and fumbled. Ohio State’s Jordan Fuller picked it up and ran it in for a touchdown. But the replay guy called it an incomplete pass. No fumble. Ross held that ball long enough that if the ball was a hot potato he would have suffered third-degree burns. And he took enough steps holding the ball to claim it as his own.
Just like baseball, replays cause more head-scratching than getting plays right.
So that’s another touchdown that would have given OSU 35 and the Buckeyes scored a touchdown late that would have made it 42.
Clemson? The Buckeyes had Clemson pinned deep in its own end, forcing a punt. For some silly and stupid reason, OSU tried to block the punt. They were called for roughing the kicker.
Why try to block the punt? Ohio State would have had good field position after a punt. Instead, Clemson kept the ball on the penalty and scored a touchdown. Subtract that TD.
Then there was the targeting call, another absurd rule. It was third-and-long and OSU sacked quarterback Trevor Lawrence. As he was about to be hit, Lawrence ducked his head and OSU’s Shaun Wade hit him helmet-to-helmet.
That was a penalty for a first down, instead of forcing a Clemson punt. Wade was ejected from the game and Clemson scored a touchdown. Subtract that TD.
And there you have it. Instead of losing, 29-23, Ohio State wins, 42-15.
That’s my angle, and I’m stick to it.
—QUOTE: From Ohio State coach Ryan Day, probably biting his tongue to keep from saying more: “There were some huge plays that could have gone one way or another that didn’t go our way, and that’s hard to swallow.”
—Just hours after the No. 2 football Buckeyes lost, the No. 2 basketball Buckeyes lost to West Virginia, 67-59, on a neutral site in Cleveland. That’s called The Ultimate Lost Weekend.
But there is more. And this is no joke. It’s true. The Ohio State cornhole team lost a match this weekend to Baldwin Wallace. The Buckeyes just couldn’t get enough bags in the hole.
—On Thursday there was a report that Odell Beckham Jr. wouldn’t play Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals due to illness. The illness? He is sick of Cleveland, which is ironic. Cleveland is sick of him, too.
As it turned out, Beckham did play. He caught three passes, one for a touchdown, and passed 1,000 yards in receptions.
Beckham was about the only Browns player who acted as if they wanted to wear a helmet Sunday.
Either they don’t like quarterback Baker Mayfield or they wanted to make certain coach Freddie Kitchens got fired. They got their wish real quick. Kitchens was fired right after the game before he could take off his Dawg Pound sweat shirt. They lost to the woebegotten Bengals, 33-23. Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield threw three more interceptions, giving him 22 for the season. Cleveland’s offensive line was like a rusty gate and the Bengals were in Mayfield’s face all afternoon.
—QUOTE: From humorist Will Rogers:
“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” (It seems as if Beckham has been on a side track all season.)
—Free agent pitcher Rich Hill and his wife, Caitlin, were arrested, handcuffed and fined after an altercation outside Gillette Stadium, home to the New England Patriots, before a Patriots-Buffalo Bills game.
Caitlin became belligerent when security prevented her from taking an oversized bag into the stadium through several different entrances. When she was handcuffed, Hill stepped in and he, too, was cuffed and arrested.
The irony? Just a week before the incident Hill was presented with the Tony Conigiliaro Award, which goes to a major leaguer “who has overcome adversity through the attributes of spirit, determination and courage.”
Well, he certainly had determination (to extricate his wife from the police) and courage (to challenge the gendarmes). No word on whether the former Dodgers pitcher was asked to return the award.
QUOTE: From former football coach Lou Holtz: “We were at a beach one summer and I had a bathing suit on. My wife looked at me and said, ‘Boy, you are skinny, aren’t you?’ I said, ‘Honey, I would like to remind you that it was minor defects like this that kept me from getting a better wife.’” (Try that one on your significant other and see how quickly your golf clubs and bowling ball are in the driveway.)
—Good friend Andy Furman sent me a copy of a facsimile of the long defunct Brooklyn Eagle newspaper. In it was a story from Dec. 12, 1951, a story about Joe DiMaggio, the Yankee Clipper, announcing his retirement.
Deep in the story, New York Yankees manager Casey Stengel said, “I guess I’ll go with Mickey Mantle in center. He is very green and has a long way to go. He rates the chance. Where is there another DiMaggio? I doubt if there ever will be one.”
Well, that green kid with a lot to learn sure came close to being another Joe DiMaggio. Mickey Mantle shed that green-ness in a hurry and was a fast, fast learner.
—QUOTE: From Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle: “Somebody once asked me if I ever went up to the plate trying to hit a home run. I said, ‘Sure, every time.’” (And he succeeded 538 times, along with hitting more than .300 ten times. Casey Stengel was forever grateful that he gave the green kid a chance.)
—Are the Cincinnati Reds going to add a free agent outfielder or wait too long. Two more outfielders in which the Reds had interest signed with other teams last week.
Kole Calhoun signed a two-year $16 million deal with Arizona and Corey Dickerson signed a two-year $17.5 million deal with Miami.
Still out there, waiting for the right deal, are Marcell Ozuna, Nicholas Castellanos and Japanese outfielder Shogo Akiyama.
Akiyama is no kid. He is 31 and a nine-year veteran with the Seibu Lions of the Japanese Pacific League. Reportedly the Reds have to outbid San Diego, Toronto, Arizona and the Chicago Cubs to land him. The Reds are the only team in the majors who have never had a Japanese-born player on the roster.
—QUOTE: From a Japanese mail official talking about former Japanese star Ichiro Suzuki: “When you mail Ichiro something from the States to Japan, you only have to use Ichiro on the address and he gets it. Hes that big.” (It is doubtful that Akiyama ever will reach that level, even though Shogo is awfully close to Shogun (a hereditary chief in feudal Japan).
—Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi (Diet Coke), Ketchup or mustard on a hot dog (Ketchup), The Beatles or Elvis Presley (Elvis), College basketball or NBA (college), Toilet seat up or down after usage (Up), French or Thousand Island (Thousand), Butter or margarine (Butter), Chocolate or Vanilla (Vanilla, all day long).
Cake or pie (Apple pie), Yuengling or Budweiser (Yuengling), Designated hitter or no designated hitter (No, no, no, no designated), socks or no socks (No, no, no, no socks), University of Dayton or Wright State (Both, emphatically). Jim Harbaugh or Bill Belichick (Neither), Tom Brady or Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers (Lamar Jackson).