By HAL McCOY
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave while waiting to watch the Milwaukee Bucks play the Carolina Hornets in an NBA game in Paris. And what’s with the ‘Cream City’ on the front of Milwaukee’s uniforms. Cream? Isn’t Milwaukee famous for beer? Ok, cheese? But cream?
—No, it wasn’t me, I wasn’t the one person who did not vote for Derek Jeter. I put a check mark in the box next to Derek Jeter’s name on my Hall of Fame ballot.
There was a time when the Cincinnati Reds didn’t vote for Jeter, either. The Reds had the fifth pick in the 1992 draft. Derek Jeter was still available.
Cincinnati’s iconic scout, Gene Bennett, implored the Reds to pick Jeter. Scout Julian Mock represented the Reds at the draft and he agonized.
Jeter or Chat Mottola? Jeter was a 17-year-old high schooler. Mottola was an accomplished college player, a big kid of whom Mock said, “He can whip a bear with a switch.”
So, he picked Mottola. Ian O’Connor, author of the book, “The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter,” wrote what happened after Mock picked Mottola.
The New York Yankees had the next pick. “A cheer immediately went up in the Yankees draft room in Tampa, one loud enough to echo across the Bronx. Fists were pumped and backs were slapped. Somehow, some way, Jeter had made it unscathed to the sixth pick.”
Mottola? He batted 79 times for the 1996 Reds and slashed .215/.271/.367, He hit three homers. That’s it. His entire career with the Reds. He might have been able to whip a bear with a switch, but he couldn’t hit a baseball with a bat.
Jeter? Well, as Paul Harvey used to say, “And now you know the rest of the story.”
—There must have been something in the Ohio River back then. Just three years later (1995), the Cincinnati Bengals selected Penn State running back Ki-Jana Carter in the first round of the NFL draft. He tore a ligament in his first pre-season game and disappeared forever.
—BetOnLine in Las Vegas apparently is not impressed with what the Cincinnati Reds have accomplished in the off-season.
BOL is predicting that the Reds will be better than Pittsburgh in the National League Central and nobody else — just like last year.
The oddsmakers say the Reds will win 83 1/2 games (How do you win half a game?). They say St. Louis will win 88 1/2 games, Chicago will win 86 1/2, Milwaukee will win the same as the Reds, 83 1/2 games, and Pittsburgh will win 70 1/2 games.
The New York Yankees top the list with 101 1/2 wins, but the Houston Astros are off-the-board. Gee, wonder why that is?
—Unfounded rumor: MLB has ordered the Houston Astros to rename the team. They are now known as the Houston Stealers.
—Everybody knew Antonio Brown eventually would wear orange and we don’t mean the orange of the Cincinnati Bengals or the Cleveland Browns. It is an orange jump suit.
Brown turned himself in to face burglary charges of an unoccupied conveyance and aggravated burglary. He also should be charged for stealing money from the Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots.
—Speaking of criminal athletes, the documentary on former New England star/murderer Aaron Hernandez is worth watching.
—Nobody asked and probably nobody cares, but I did NOT vote for Dave Winfield when he was elected to the Hall of Fame.
Why not? Glad you asked.
Two things reminded me of it. First, the ugly brawl on the basketball court between Kansas and Kansas State this week. Second, the game Wednesday between Minnesota and Ohio State. That game was on the exact date, back in 1972, when a brawl broke out that made the Kansas-Kansas State skirmish seem like a patty cake party.
Ohio State’s 7-foot-1 center, Luke Witte, was knocked to the Williams Arena floor. Minnesota’s Corky Taylor offered him a hand to help him up, then kicked him in the groin. And the fight was on.
Gopher Ron Behagen, who had fouled out, charged to the floor and stomped on Witte’s head. Winfield was observed by several witnesses, including two Minneapolis sports writers, connecting with several haymakers on Ohio State players.
Witte was taken off the floor on a stretcher and hospitalized. Two other Buckeyes were hurt and missed time. Amazingly, Taylor and Behagen were suspended for the rest of the season. Winfield was not punished.
Witte was never the same and OSU coach Fred Taylor became so disenchanted with the game he retired shortly after.
And that’s why I refused to vote for Winfield for baseball’s Hall of Fame. He was known as a baseball slugger. That’s OK. But it is not OK to be a basketball slugger.
—QUOTE: From singer Taylor Swift: “It’s hard to fight when the fight ain’t fair.” (In 1972, the Minnesota Gophers, coach by high-wired Bill Musselman, where the Cheap Shot Champions of the NCAA.)
—Why games are played, no matter the odds. Back in September at the U.S. Open, Serena Williams beat Wang Qiang, 6-1, 6-0, and some thought that one game was a courtesy gift from Williams. That match took 44 minutes.
Well, this week in the Australian Open, W-Q beat Williams, 6-4, 6-7, 7-5. The first set took 45 minutes. Williams made 56 unforced errors.
Do you sense that the end is near for Serena, who dominated women’s tennis not so long ago? Let’s hope she doesn’t stick around too long.
—QUOTE: From baseball icon Ernie Banks: “The only way to prove you are a good sport is to lose.” (And with the Chicago Cubs Banks was able to prove he was a terrific sports because the Cub lost, lost and lost some more.)
—ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper lists the University of Dayton’s Adam Trautman as the No. 7 tight end on the board.
Having watched Trautman for most of his games the last three years, I find it difficult to believe there are six tight ends better than him — even though they all come from major schools.
Trautman, of course, played for UD, a non-scholarship football school, and Kiper most likely questions his competition. Trautman was a man among boys while setting all UD pass-catching records.
He is legit. . .and he gets a chance to prove it Saturday afternoon in the Senior Bowl, playing for the North team. All 30 teams have scouted him in person and all 30 are impressed.
Whichever team drafts him is getting a gem. Can you say Travis Kelce or Antonio Gates or even Rob Gronkowski? Yes, I was thoroughly impressed with Trautman.