By HAL McCOY
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, slowly recovering from my broken hip, but finally getting out and about. That included a two-hour trip to Portsmouth Wednesday to attend the city’s annual murals/baseball dinner. Marty Brennaman was the speaker and, as always, had the room (a very big room with 350 people in it) nibbling out of his palm.
—Former major league pitcher Don Larsen died this week. Larsen was the only man on the planet to pitch a perfect game in the World Series. He did it for the New York Yankees in 1956 against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Amazingly, Larsen was part of a 17-player trade between the Baltimore Orioles and the Yankees that sent Larsen to New York.
The 17-player deal: From Baltimore to New York (Nine players): Don Larsen, Bob Turley. Billy Hunter, Jim McDonald, Hal Smith, Mike Blyzka, Darrell Johnson, Jim Fridley, Dick Kryhoski.
From New York to Baltimore (Eight players): Bill Miller, Kal Segrist, Don Leppert, Theordore Del Guercio, Harry Byrd, Willy Miranda, Gus Triandos, Gene Woodling.
That trade was in November, 1954. Then the Yankees traded Larsen two years later to the Kansas Athletics in a deal that sent Roger Maris to the Yankees.
Maris hit 61 home runs in 1961. Larsen continued to bounce around. His 14-year career included stops with the St. Louis Browns/Baltimore, New York Yankees, Kansas City A’s, Chicago White Sox and San Francisco.
He is renowned for his World Series perfect game, a game he didn’t even know he was going to start until he arrived at Yankee Stadium that day and found a new baseball in his locker. It is baseball tradition that the manager or coach puts a new baseball on the chair of the day’s starting pitcher.
But his career was a flameout, an 81-91 record. He once said, “I would have won more games if I hadn’t love the night life. But it was fun.”
—Cleveland Cavaliers coach John Beilein is squirming these days after calling his team thugs, not a cool thing to do in front of a room full of African American basketball players.
Trying to smooth it over, Beilein said he meant to use the word slugs. Maybe he should have called them bugs because the 10-and-27 Cavs constantly get squashed on the court. They season isn’t quite half over and Beilein’s Thugs/Slugs/Bugs) are 22 games out of first place.
But, hey, in the NBA that still could make the playoffs.
—Bad news for fans crossing their fingers that the Cincinnati Reds will make a deal for Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor.
Uncross ‘em right now. Tribe manager Terry Francona says 99.9 per cent of the rumors involving a Lindor trade is fake news.
“When other teams hear rumors that, ‘Hey, we’re trying to balance payroll,’ or however you want to say it, they’re naturally going to come see if they can get a steal or get one of the best players in the game,” said Francona. “I don’t blame them. That doesn’t mean we’re going to say yes.”
And that’s why the Reds have turned their attention to trying to pry shorstop Corey Seager away from the Los Angeles Dodgers. That one isn’t close, either.
—What is it with Boston, where we celebrate a tea party and a famous midnight ride? Why are the pro sports team cheating?
The Boston Red Sox are being investigated for stealing signs in 2017 during regular-season games, using video. And we’ve seen the NFL’s New England Patriots twice charged with spying on opponents with video, plus deflategate when quarterback Tom Brady served a suspension for knowingly playing with deflated footballs.
What’s next? Will the Boston Celtics use rims they can shrink by remote control when the opposition shoots? Will the Boston Bruins pun sleeping pill fumes near the goal so that the opposition goalie falls asleep?
—North Carolina coach Roy Williams threw his team under the team bus after it lost to Georgia Tech, 96-83. Said Williams, “This is the least gifted team I’ve ever coached.” The Tar Heels fell behind, 19-2, against the Rambling Wreck.
After those uplifting and supportive words from their coach, the Tar Heels lost their next game, too, at home, to Pittsburgh, 73-65. North Carolina is 8-and-7.
One questions for Coach Williams? Who recruited those ‘least-talented’ players?
—Love this by-play from comedian Larry David, the mind behind the TV show Curb Your Enthusiasm. David does not curb his own enthusiasm as a New York Jets fan. He is all-in. David said when quarterback Lamar Jackson was available in the 2018 draft, he recommended to then Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan that the Jets draft him.
“He kind of game me the most condescending. . .he laughed at me,” said Davis.
The only people laughing now are the Baltimore Ravens.
—Bleacher Report ranks the Cincinnati Reds farm system as 16th best in the majors, right smack-dab in the middle.
“The Reds have struggled a bit to develop pitchers in recent years,” they wrote. “The system as a whole is thin a bit on arms?”
Struggled a bit? Recent years? The last time the Reds developed their own starting pitcher Abner Doubleday wore diapers and was fed pablum.
While the 2020 rotation figures to be solid, it is all imported: Luis Castillo and Anthony DeSclafani from the Marlins, Sonny Gray from the Yankees, Trevor Bauer from the Indians and Wade Miley from the Astros.
Hey, whatever works.
—By Request: My choice for the best Cincinnati Reds players by each uniform number (managers and coaches don’t count).
0-Ron Oester, 1-Jim Bottomley, 2-Deion Sanders, 3-Ken Griffey Jr., 4-Ernie Lombardi, 5-Johnny Bench, 6-Ryan Freel, 7-Mariano Duncan, 8-Joe Morgan, 9-Joe Oliver, 10-Chuck Harmon, 11-Barry Larkin, 12-Nick Esasky, 13-Dave Concepcion, 14-Pete Rose, 15-George Foster, 16-Reggie Sanders, 17-Aaron Boone, 18-Ted Kluszewski, 19-Joey Votto, 20-Frank Robinson, 21-Paul O’Neill, Seam Casey, 22-Dan Driessen, 23-Hal Morris, Lee May, 24-Tony Perez, 25-Buddy Bell, Ray Knight.
26-David Ross, 27-Jose Rijo, 28-Vada Pinson, Randy Myers, 29-Bret Boone, 30-Ken Griffey, Sr., 31-John Franco, 32-Tom Browning, 33-Ron Robinson, 34-Pedro Borbon, 35-Don Gullett, 36-Mario Soto, 37-Norm Charlton, 38-Gary Nolan, 39-Dave Parker, 40-Doug Bair, 41-Joe Nuxhall, Tom Seaver.
42-Jim Brosnan, 43-Jack Bllingham, 44-Eric Davis, Adam Dunn, 45-Jeff Brantley, 46-Jim Maloney, 47-Tom Hume, 48-Ted Power, 49-Rob Dibble, 50-Kent Mercker, 51-Mike LaCoss, 52-John Riedling, 53-Arthur Rhodes, 54-Steve Foster, 55-Ramon Hernandez, 56-Scott Sullivan, 57-John Smiley, 58-Pat Darcy, 59-Bobby Ayala, 61-Bronson Arroyo.
That’s MY all-numbers team. You can count on it.