By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave as we await the start of the most convoluted, messed-up seasons in the history of Major League Baseball. Nadine is sad because our night-time binge watching of Netflix shows is coming to an end.
—One of the toughest players, pound-for-pound, ever to wear a Cincinnati Reds uniform was Cincinnati native Ron Oester, a slim and trim 180-pounder.
He was one of the nicest guys to ever put a pair of spikes on a baseball field, but don’t mess with him.
Ask Cesar Cedeno. Ask Tim Foli. Ask Jim Bowden.
When Oester was a player, he was given a day off when the Reds were to face the Houston Astros and pitcher Mike Scott. Cedeno, who was languishing on the disabled list, accused Oester of taking the day off to duck Scott, a tough hombre to hit.
Next thing you know Oester and Cedeno were on the clubhouse floor in an early version of Mixed Martial Arts. And Oester was on top, pounding Cedeno into submission.
Fast forward to when Oester and Foli were coaches. The two were in the cramped quarters of the small coaches room in old Riverfront Stadium. Foli said something Oester considered disparaging and the fight was on.
Once again Oester was on top, getting the better of it, until Foli bit him on the leg and Oester later said with a smile, “He fought like a girl.”
And he didn’t mean Laila Ali, former female boxer and daughter to Muhammad Ali.
Then there was the time GM Jim Bowden offered the managerial job to Ron Oester. After a negotiating session, Bowden offered Oester the job and Oester asked to sleep on it.
While Oester slept, Bowden gave the job to Bob Boone without notifying Oester. From that day on Oester refused to talk to Bowden and left the Reds to take a coaching job with the Phillies.
When the Reds staged a re-union of the 1990 World Champions, as the team lined up on the first base-line, Bowden walked the line, shaking hands. When he got to Oester, Oester turned his back.
Through it all, Oester was a rugged competitor and an excellent infielder.
—There is a move afoot to rename the Cleveland Indians by returning to the Cleveland Spiders, the team’s nickname in the 1890s.
And what do we know about the Spiders? In 1899 the Spiders set the all-time worst Major League record, 20-134. Attendance was so bad, less than 100 for some games, the team played all their games on the road the last part of the season.
They were 11-101 on the road and lost 24 straight at one point. They lost 40 of their last 41 games and the question is, “How did they win that one game?”
The Spiders weren’t always that bad and finished second a few times in the early 1890s behind the pitching of Cy Young. Yes, THAT Cy Young.
I still prefer Cleveland Rocks, in honor of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But I’m certain my Rocks suggestion will be stone-walled.
—QUOTE: From former Cleveland sports writer Elmer Bates on the 1899 Cleveland Spiders: “You aren’t asked 50 times a day what was the score. People took it for granted that you lost.” (And you thought the 1962 New York Mets 40-120) were bad?)
—Let’s consider this: It was OK for Triple-A players to play in Buffalo’s stadium, but it is not OK for major league players to play there. Bad lighting.
The Canadian federal government ruled that the Toronto Blue Jays could not play in their home park, the Rogers Centre.
So with less than a week before Opening Day, the Blue Jays are searching for a place to play. They considered Buffalo, but MLB said the lighting was not up to MLB standards.
Is Dayton’s Howell Field available? Day Air Park, home of the Dayton Dragons, is sitting vacant. The Dayton Blue Jays has a nice ring.
—Nobody can blame the Canadian government for not wanting U.S. baseball teams crossing its border. Toronto has the Covid-19 virus under control.
The city’s worst day was April 11, 279 cases. Toronto and Houston are both close to 3 million in population. On Thursday, Toronto had nine cases. On Friday, Houston had 14,917.
—Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray is upset because his rating is a low 77 (about a ‘C’) on the John Madden video game, saying he was disrespected.
He said he is going to have to take a lot of ribbing and kidding from his teammates.
C’mon, Kyle. It’s a doggone video game. Means nothing. Do something on the field. Put up a 150 quarterback rating on the field and nobody will make fun of you.
—QUOTE: From former NFL coach/broadcaster John Madden: “There are a lot of letters in LaDainian Tomlinson.” (Yeah, 18. And Tomlinson owned the highest Madden rating for a running back, a 99.)
—PGA golfer Bryson DeChambeau exploded a 423-yard drive at Muirfield Village last week. As tennis star John McEnroe once screamed, “You can’t be serious.”
Once upon a time 423 yards was a long par four. They talk about the baseballs being juiced? Well, golf balls are miniature rocket ships.
Golf equipment is so advanced that legendary courses are turned into Putt-Putt layouts.
The Masters is threatening to make contestants use one ball that the event approves. The USGA needs to step in and come up with a juiced-down ball. And those drivers with heads the size of watermelons need to be outlawed.
But there is an aftermath to DeChambeau’s 423-yard drive. After doing something 99 99/100ths of the world can’t do on Thursday. DeChambeau on Friday did something that every weekend hacker does. He took a quintuple 10 on the par five 15th at Muirfield Village. He knocked four balls out of bounds.
He shot a 76, which is respectable with a 10 on the card, but that 10 cost him dearly. He didn’t make the cut.
—QUOTE: From former touring golf pro Chi Chi Rodriguez: “Golf is the most fun you can have without taking your clothes off.” (Sometimes I had to take my shoes and pants off to hit a ball out of a pond.)
—Love this quote from former Cincinnati Reds manager Jerry Narron: “If you walk a mile in my shoes you will end up at a ballpark.”
—Some trades work out and some are thudding flops. The Cincinnati Reds traded Todd Frazier to get Scott Schebler, Jose Peraza and Brandon Dixon. The Reds designated Schebler for assignment, so all three of those guys are gone.
—QUOTE: From former Dodgers GM Buzzie Bavasi when infielder Don Zimmer said, “Play me or trade me,”: “We played him, now we can’t trade him.”