By HAL McCOY
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, trying to find peace in the garage while several guys noisily remodel our two bathrooms.
—Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred continues to try to reshape baseball to resemble the NBA and the NHL, where nearly every team but one qualifies for the post-season playoffs.
He wants to expand the playoffs to seven teams in each league. And his plan calls for one team to draw a bye and then choose which team it wants to play in its first round.
His ‘plan’ drew the ire of Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer. When Bauer heard of the plan, he tweeted, “No idea who made this new playoff format proposal, but Rob is responsible for releasing it, so I’ll direct this to you, Rob Manfred. Your proposal is absurd for too many reasons to type on twitter and proves you have absolutely no clue about baseball. You’re a joke.”
While I agree with Bauer’s assessment of the plan, I wonder if it is time for Bauer to shut up and put up.
This is a guy who had problems with teammates in Cleveland and threw a baseball over the center field wall while pitching for the Tribe.
Yes, he is one different hombre. And he was horrible on the mound with the Reds late last season. For the sake of harmony in the Reds’ clubhouse, let’s hope he is not another Mat Latos, The Disruptor.
—QUOTE: From former pitcher Mat Latos after he was traded by the Reds to Miami: “You look at it after we lost Scott Rolen (after 2012). Everything went to s—. When Scott was there, we had guys doing exactly what they were supposed to do. After Scott left, we had guys with two years in the big leagues, in the clubhouse, on their phones, laying down in the video room, just hanging out during games, not in the dugout, not cheering their teammates on. Our dugout looked like a ghost town.”
—What’s up with Cincinnati Reds outfielder Aristides Aquino? ‘The Punisher’ didn’t do any punishing in the Dominican Winter League.
His season was delayed when he had a contract dispute with the Licey Tigers. He played only 11 games and hit .209 with one home run and seven RBI in 43 at bats.
Aquino was as astounding success with the Reds in August and was National League Player of the Month. Then came September and he struggled mightily.
With the glut of outfielders on the Reds’ roster, is there room for Aquino this year? Newcomers Shogo Akiyama and Nick Castellanos are locks for two outfield spots.
That leaves Aquino, Jesse Winker and Phillip Ervin battling for the final spot. Ervin is out of options, so. . .it behooves Aquino to have a monster spring training or he’ll probably find himself back in Triple-A with Louisville.
—Disneyland, which leads the league in yearly price hikes, recently upped one of its one-day combination passes to $209. That’s a lot of money to see a mouse and a goofy dog.
If I want that, I can place a piece of cheese in my garage and pet my Schnoodle, Paige, and my Havadoodle, Quinn.
—QUOTE: From iconic cartoonist Walt Disney: “I love Mickey Mouse more than any woman I have ever known.” (He should. The Mouse made him a fortune and ex-wives would only try to take it away.)
—From a great friend and even greater former scout, Ben McLure, forced into retirement far before his time due to baseball’s analytics and metrics rage.
“Could this be the year that players wear hats that fit instead of tucking in their ears? (No) Will baseball players ever learn that those beards are ugly? (No) Glad the Yankees still don’t have them. The Reds were the last bastion of clean-cut players in the National League. (But that’s gone).”
—QUOTE: From Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, originally drafted by the Cincinnati Reds: “The beards aren’t throwing any pitches or taking any swings. It’s about the man underneath them.” (So true, Justin, but you still look like Dr. Teeth of the Muppets band named Electric Mayhem.)
—It has happened again. Another horse died over the weekend at Santa Anita Park. That’s 43 equine deaths at the track since December of 2018.
A 6-year-old gelding named Double Touch suffered sudden death on the training track. Just a few weeks back two horses were euthanized after suffering fractures of their right foot ankles.
If they had any horse sense, they’d plow that track under and plant grapes, strawberries and oranges.
—QUOTE: From horsehippie.com: “I just want peace in my heart, flowers in my hair and a horse by my side.”
—Before every tip-off, the University of Dayton’s Obi Toppin runs around the floor to shake hands with all three officials, all five opponents and all five teammates.
If he had time, he would shake hands with all 13,410 fans in the stands. Before the Rhode Island game this week, Rhode Island star Fatts Russell refused to shake hands.
Then the Flyers started the game with a 17-0 breakaway, giving Rhode Island a fat chance of winning.
—QUOTE: From former teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa (where is he now?): “In the old days all you needed was a handshake. Nowadays you need forty lawyers.”
—Quietly, with no fanfare, Wright State University athletic director Bob Grant, keeps upping the ante for basketball coach Scott Nagy.
Nagy signed a five-year contract in 2016, but Grant added years and incentives to the deal in 2018, 2019 and again this year. Nagy is signed through the 2022-23 season. All of this classy stuff was done with no formal announcements, no look-at-me press conferences.
While in high school, Grant was a close friend to my son, Brian, and Grant was a constant visitor to my home, rummaging through my baseball memorabilia.
—QUOTE: From Wright State athletic director Bob Grant (as quoted by journalist Doug Harris, a former UD basketball player): “Nagy was 21 years on 21 one-year contracts at South Dakota State. If he’s here for 21 years, I’d be thrilled.”
—The name Lefty McFadden surfaced in a conversation recently, one of my all-time favorite people. McFadden was a sports writer for the Dayton Daily News at one time, but became famous in these parts for bringing the Dayton Gems hockey team to Hara Arena.
And it was highly successful, the only guy who made hockey relevant in Dayton. Lefty always had a cigar in his mouth and handed me my first cigar. Hardly a day goes by now, that I don’t have at least one cigar. Lefty smoked cheap ones, but I’ve advanced to the top-shelf stuff.
And for that, Lefty, my wife Nadine, who relegates me to the garage for my habit, thanks you from the bottom of our bank account.