OBSERVATIONS: Homer Bailey, ‘Mr. Misunderstood’ to me

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, killing time with both Paige and the Mighty Quinn on my lap as I await tonight’s gargantuan showdown between the Reds and Brewers.

—There is a distinct possibility that if Sunday’s game between the Cincinnati Reds and Minnesota Twins in meaningful, the Reds will face Homer Bailey.

Bailey probably was the most misunderstood player in Reds history. . .and one of my all-time favorites.

Bailey became Cincinnati Enemy No. 1 after he signed a six-year $105 million contract in 2014. Then an assortment of injuries followed him everywhere, although he did pitch two no-hitters.

It is true that Bailey was hard-headed when he first reached the majors, refused to listen to instruction and advice on how to get better.

And he was no joy to be around. He answered most question from the media in a disparaging manner with a look on his face that said, “Why are you asking me stupid questions?” He did not suffer fools.

It got so I avoided the guy, never tried to interview him. And he didn’t talk to me, walked by with not even a hello.

Then one day, the first day of spring training, I was walking toward the front door of the clubhouse when I heard somebody yell, “Hey, Hal. Hey, Hal. How’s it going?” I looked around and saw nobody but Bailey walking up the sidewalk. It was him.

From that day forward, we talked often and not just about baseball. He is an intelligent guy. He loved to read, mostly Larry McMurtry novels. I made it a point to always stop at his locker before games to chat about this, that and everything.

He always spoke what was on his mind. He created a furor during the World Cup one year when he told me, “Soccer is a Communist sport and I don’t care if you use it.” I did.

We both wore size 13 shoes and he gave me a pair of alligator cowboys boots. Another time, on Mother’s Day when the players wore pink shoes, he gave me a pair of pink running shoes.

When I had a heart procedure a few year ago, one player contacted me to ask how I was doing. Homer Bailey.

Yes, through no fault of his own, the Reds contract didn’t work out. Fans still make fun of him. But I have pulled hard for the guy, even after he left the Reds.

And I still do. . .except Sunday.

—The Ohio State-Michigan football game is like the McCoy-Hatfield feud (notice which name I put first), without the shotguns. But if the Big Ten/NCAA allowed shotguns, the Buckeyes would corner the market on shells.

For Ohio State, the objective is to not only win but to spin the numbers on the scoreboard like a slot machine.

Current coach Ryan Day said if he could score 100 on the Wolverines. Remember when Woody Hayes went for two points after a touchdown when the Buckeyes led, 51-3? Asked why he went for two, Hayes said, “Because I couldn’t go for three.”

The Buckeyes failed on the two-point try and won, 50-14. And it wasn’t the first time Woody did it.

In 1961 the Buckeyes led 42-20 when OSU quarterback Joe Sparma completed a 70-yard pass in the final minute to put the ball at the Michigan 10.

Three incomplete passes later, Sparma connected with Sam Tidmore for a touchdown with six seconds left. Then Sparma hit Tidmore for the extra two points to bring the score to 50-20.

No, the Buckeyes didn’t try an on-side kick.

And it continues. Former Buckeye coach Urban Meyer was on The Dan Patrick radio show this week and Patrick asked him about running it up in 2018, a 62-39 OSU victory.

“How can I answer this politically correct?” Meyer said. “Our players work that game every year. You get a chance to go in and play, I’m not going to tell them to slow down, if that answers your question.”

Well, sort of.

—QUOTE: From Michigan assistant coach Tony Mason, after Woody Hayes went for two in a 50-14 win: “That fat hog went for two. That’s why he’s not wanted in this profession.” (Michigan only wishes it had hired Hayes first.)

—The Atlanta Braves signed pitcher Cole Hamels to a one-year $18 million. Fortunately for the Braves, due to the shortened season his pro-rated salary is $6,666,667. For their money they got one start, 52 pitches, and he is shut down for the season.

Let’s see, that comes out to $128,000 a pitch. And they weren’t all quality pitches, either. But the Braves saved some cash. If they had played a full season it would be $346,000 a pitch.

—Speaking of Atlanta, the NFL Falcons did something against the Dallas Cowboys that may never have been accomplished before.

Since the Elias Sports Bureau began tracking team turnovers in 1933, no team that scored as many as 39 points with no turnovers ever lost a game. The record was 440-0.

But the Falcons, who once led by 20 points, lost to the Cowboys, 40-39, and didn’t commit a turnover.

I thought the Bengals and Browns may have accomplished it, but I lost my head — they would have to score 39 points (rare) and commit no turnovers (even more rare).

—Another legend left us this week when Gale Sayers joined that Great Backfield in the Sky. Nadine loves to watch ‘Brian’s Song’ and cries every time. OK, so do I.

There was no prettier sight in football than watching Sayers run 65 yards back-and-forth across the field to score a 30-yard touchdown, leaving opposing players sprawled on the turf like scarecrows blown down in a cornfield by a windstorm.

—Obnoxious Commercials VI: The King Midas commercials, especially the one where he doesn’t turn the dog into gold. I wish they’d put a muffler on this commercial.

3 thoughts on “OBSERVATIONS: Homer Bailey, ‘Mr. Misunderstood’ to me

  • September 23, 2020 at 4:59 pm
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    I recall a time when the shoe was on the other foot for Michigan. I believe it was 1945 when Michigan kicked a field goal in the waning seconds while leading Ohio State 56-0. That sent up chants of “Bring back Paul Brown” throughout the stadium. During halftime retiring Athletic Director St. John was to receive a car for his long service. Instead he was booed off the field. And to make matters worse it was announced that St. John had hired his son-in-law Dick Larkins to succeed him.
    My stepfather had this slant on running up scores: “Don’t penalize your players for being good.”

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  • September 23, 2020 at 10:12 pm
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    A masterpiece per usual. I remember your column in 2014(?) When you two made the peace. Everything else in the article was icing, cherries, and hot fudge on the cake!

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  • September 26, 2020 at 8:59 am
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    Recalling the great stories with Homer Bailey made my day Hal. Now that I’m 46 I’d guess I’ve been reading your writing for 40 years and you still are the best; once from Huber Heights to Cincinnati and now in Northern Kentucky, let’s root these Reds through the playoffs.

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