OBSERVATIONS: Dusty Baker hired to polish Astros tarnished image

By HAL McCOY

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, waiting for what most people call the Super Bowl but probably will be The Patrick Mahomes Show. And when did the Kansas City Chiefs hire Wilford Brimley as their head coach?

—The Houston Astros, trying to salvage a bit of their shattered image after the sign-stealing mess, hired Dusty Baker as their new manager.

They could not have hired a more honest man, the Abraham Lincoln of baseball. No baseball manager ever had more character. During his years as the manager of the Cincinnati Reds he never once lied to me — and that’s a rarity among baseball managers.

Even a great and wonderful man like Sparky Anderson told me a few fibs and some little white lies to cover for his players.

And it is a guarantee that the only reason there will be a trash can in the Astros dugout is as a receptacle for Dusty’s tooth picks.

—A myth is that a hitter should always have the trademark of a bat facing him because if you hit the ball on the trademark the bat will break. That’s false. The Louisville Slugger folks say it ain’t so.

But even some major league players believe it. One of them was not Hank Aaron. He grabbed a bat and used it. When another player mentioned that he should have the trademark facing him, Aaron said, “I’m not up there to read, I’m up there to hit.”

—Chad Mottola, the player the Cincinnati Reds chose in the 1992 draft ahead of Derek Jeter, never made it with the Reds.
But he is a Hall of Famer. The International League is including him in their 2020 Hall of Fame class.

Incredibly, Mottola spent nine years in the Class AAA International League with six different franchises. He hit 33 home runs in 2000 for Syracuse and was the IL MVP.

For the Reds? He was with them briefly in 1996 for 85 plate appearances and hit .215 with three homers and six RBI.

Anybody know whatever happened to Derek Jeter?

—How in the name of Bevo Francis does a high school coach permit his team to score 153 points against a helpless team and sleep at night without sleeping pills.

On Tuesday night, Trotwood-Madison obliterated Northmont, 153-67. Northmont is 1-and-14. A year ago, T-M smashed a helpless West Carrollton team, 133-50.

It is, though, amazing that the Rams, 8-0 in the GWOC, average 99.8 points game. That’s more than three points a minute over a 32-minute game, without a shot clock.

That’s OK against decent teams, but it is reprehensible against mostly unarmed teams.

—QUOTE: From journalist Johnette Howard after the UConn women beat Holy Cross, 117-37 in 2010: “Who needs the Bully Rout, which is what UConn did in another tedious expression of its remorseless quest for excellence. That treats opponent like nameless, faceless foes rather than human beings. We get it. You’re good.” (Hey, Trotwood-Madison, we know you’re good, but show some compassion.)

—The Cincinnati Reds acquisition of outfielders Nick Castellanos and Shogo Akiyama hasn’t impressed the good folks at MLB.com.

A day after the Reds signed Castellanos, MLB.com wrote that the Milwaukee Brewers own the best outfield in the NL Central with Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain and Avisail Garcia, “With Ryan Braun, who becomes the best fourth outfielder in the game.” (That’s the old sticks-and-stones breaking bone but words never hurt.)

—With the hiring of Andrew Berry as general manager, the Cleveland Browns now have three high-placed executives from the Ivy League. That’s great if the Browns schedule Yale, Harvard, Columbia and Brown.

—The heavy end of publicity goes to Obi Toppin when folks talk about the University of Dayton basketball team. And rightly so. And Jalen Crutcher gets his more than fair share of attention.

But one opposing coach, unnamed, said this about Trey Landers in a piece written by ESPN’s Jeff Borcello.

“Landers is the sort of glue guy who will get overlooked on the scouting report but will make a key play late.

“He gives them (UD) so much,” he said. “A lot of people don’t talk about him. But he comes up with the offensive rebound, or off a double-team in the post he’s cutting and seems to always be there, or he’s got a backdoor dive to the post for a dunk or layup. And defensively, he’s their best defender. His versatility defensively can give you some issues.”

Couldn’t agree more. And although Landers is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, if I’m walking down a dark alley at midnight, I want Landers by my side. He’d make a nice linebacker for some NFL team

—QUOTE: From NBA coach Doc Rivers: “If you’re not talking, you’re not playing defense.” (Watch Trey Landers. He never quits talking, including almost a game-long monologue with the officials.)

—The Reds signed relief pitcher Pedro Strop and the first thing fans ask is: Why does that guy wear his hat crooked, the bill pushed off center?

Says Strop: “Every pitcher has something. I think that is mine. It goes back to when I was a little kid. If you see pictures of me, in baseball or out of baseball, my hat is like that.” (It’s a good thing he didn’t pitch for the Reds when Bob Howsam was club president. Howsam insisted on uniform conformity, as well as no beards and no mustaches.)

Well, hats off to Pedro Strop.

4 thoughts on “OBSERVATIONS: Dusty Baker hired to polish Astros tarnished image

  • January 30, 2020 at 7:34 pm
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    Hank Aaron. I know official records give Bonds the home run record. So be it.

    Hank Aaron is my homerun King.

    Best to Dusty Baker

    I hope he gets a ring !

    Bob Howsam. Traded my favorite Reds Lee May, Tommy Helms. I forgave him on that one.

    A man who definitely belongs in the hall of fame for the winning accomplishments in St. Louis, Cincinnati and the baseball work he did in Denver before the Rockies moved in.

    Reply
  • January 31, 2020 at 3:46 pm
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    I understand where you are coming from on Trotwood. But Trotwood and Northmont have a long history and the fact that Trotwood will no longer be in league after this year could have something to with it. Also no starter played the fourth quarter. Losing is never fun and the score was lopsided. One note I graduated from Trotwood in 1969. I then taught at Trotwood for 30 years. On another note my wife is a Northmont graduate (1969) but she also taught at Trotwood.
    The coach noted that they (Trotwood) are not that great at defense so they have to score many points.

    Reply
  • February 2, 2020 at 5:41 pm
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    It looks as if I left off the letter ‘e’ in my note about my wife.

    Reply
  • February 16, 2020 at 5:55 pm
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    Manfred is probably worst commissioner baseball has ever known. At the way he is running that office it is not hard to tell who he favors.

    Reply

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