By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave awaiting the start of the World Series, pulling for Tampa Bay but realizing the LA Dodgers have more potent pieces. The Dodgers win in six and if that doesn’t put the whammy-jinx-hex on ‘em, nothing will.
—Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts made a bold comment after his team won the National League Championships Series in seven games over the Atlanta Braves.
“This is our year,” said Roberts. That’s pretty brash considering it took the Dodgers seven games to beat the Braves and Game 7 was a one-run affair. Roberts has put pressure on his guys and added pressure is not something a baseball team needs in the World Series.
What Roberts said reminds me of what Cincinnati Reds manager Lou Piniella said to me before the 1990 World Series against the Oakland Athletics.
The A’s, led by The Bash Brothers — Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco — and the frightening staredown owned by starting pitcher Dave Stewart, were wide-margin favorites.
After a workout before Game 1, I was sitting in a metal folding chair in Piniella’s office, just Sweet Lou and me. He looked at me and said, “Hal, we are going to win this thing. We really are.”
I looked around the room to see what he was drinking or smoking and saw nothing but a stack of scouting reports on a desk in front of Piniella. They were compiled by advance scout Jimmy Stewart.
And he had the big, bad A’s pegged to a ’T.’
The report dealt mostly on how Reds pitchers Jose Rijo, Tom Browning and The Nasty Boys bullpen should pitch to McGwire and Canseco.
I didn’t write it. It was one of our many off-the-record chats — and like the rest of the baseball world, I didn’t believe it. But the Reds shocked Baseball Nation by not only winning that World Series, but by winning it in four straight.
Using Stewart’s scouting report, the Reds turned the Bash Brothers into hash. McGwire? He hit .214 with no homers and no RBI. Canseco? He hit .083 and his one hit in 12 at bats was a harmless home run.
The night after the Reds won Game 4, owner Marge Schott decided there should be a celebratory party. So the Reds left the splendor of their five-star hotel near Nob Hill in San Francisco and walked down the hill. And there they were, celebrating the 1990 World Series championship with sandwiches in a Carl’s Jr. fast food joint.
And as he ate his cheeseburger, Piniella looked at me, smiled broadly and said, “I told you so.”
Indeed, he did.
—After losing honestly in seven games to the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALCS, the Houston Astros should paint this in their clubhouse, in large letters: “I would prefer even to lose with honor than to win by cheating.” — Sophocles.
—I like (sort of) what some sports commentator on ESPN said about Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield: “He’s a jag. . .just a guy.”
Mayfield was totally exposed, stripped naked by the Pittsburgh Steelers and was as efficient as a half pair of scissors.
On Cleveland’s first possession, Mayfield threw a pick-six and, right then, the Browns packed it in.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith says it is time to bench Mayfield, reason enough for the Browns to keep running him out there.
Wonder what it would be like to have Joe Burrow behind the Browns offensive line and throwing to all those receivers?
QUOTE: From former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski: “The heartbeat of a football team is the quarterback position and I think everyone who has any intelligence about the game understands you must have consistency at that position to be a championship team.” (The Browns don’t need a baker, they need a quarterback.)
—Early second quarter: Cincinnati Bengals 21, Indianapolis Colts 0. As Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” And it wasn’t over.
A friend was bemoaning his pick of the Colts to win and I said, “It’s the Bengals. It ain’t over.” Sure enough, the Bengals quickly realized who they are and lost.
—Have to admire Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson’s honesty, even after his team only lost by 30-28 to the Baltimore Ravens Sunday.
“That’s right where we should be. . .1-4-1,” he said. He should be careful, though, or he will be where he doesn’t want to be. . .on his cellphone looking for a job,
—Folks didn’t think much of the chances of the Dallas Cowboys, even with Dak Prescott at QB. But with Prescott out and former Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton calling signals, where do the ‘Pokes stand?
At least one Dallas-area columnist, Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, believes Dalton can take the ‘Boys to the weak NFC East title.
“Whatever you think of Andy Dalton, put some respect on it. He’s earned it. He ain’t Tom Brady, <but> you don’t last for 10 years in the NFL as a quarterback because you stink,” wrote Engel. (You stink only when your team stinks and right now the Bengals smell like cooking sauerkraut.)
They say the difference between a good team and a bad team is one score a game. With that in mind, consider that the Bengals are 0-12-1 for coach Zac Taylor’s short tenure in one-score games.
—QUOTE: From Houston’s J.J. Watt, talking about Andy Dalton, known as The Red Rifle, after the Texans beat the Bengals, 10-6, in 2015: “”Our goal was to come out here and make the Red Rifle look like a Red Ryder BB Gun and we did that.” (Well, he could have said a plastic squirt gun.)
—Speaking of Tampa Bay, how about the NFL version? Is there such a thing as an immaculate game? The Buccaneers had zero penalties, zero turnovers and were not sacked once in a 38-10 annihilation of Green Bay, 38-10.
The Bucs blitzed Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers 19 times and he was 5 for 14 and was sacked five times.
Yes, there is a Green Bay, Wisconsin. But where is Tampa Bay, Fla.? No such thing. Tampa Bay’s sports teams — the baseball Tampa Bay Rays, the hockey Tampa Bay Lightning, the football Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the soccer Tampa Ba Rowdies — are all regional teams, with Tampa Bay representing Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Sarasota, to name a few cities and towns.
—Remember when they were the Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech, a football power coached by Bobby Dodd? Well, right now they are just the Miserable Wreck from Georgia Tech. Clemson beat them Saturday, 73-7.
Georgia Tech did beat Louisville, 46-27. So, please, please, please keep Louisville away from Clemson.
Maybe Clemson’s track meet over Georgia Tech is karma. In 1916, Georgia Tech’s football team beat Cumberland College, 222-0. It was 63-0 after the first quarter and 126-0 at the half.
Georgia Tech ran 64 plays inside the Cumberland red zone. Seven Cumberland players suffered severe injuries and the same quarterback was carried off the field three times.
Why did the poor guy keep coming back in?
—QUOTE: From former West Virginia coach Bobby Bowden to former William & Mary coach Lou Holtz, who accused Bowden of running up the score on him, 43-7: “It’s not my job to hold down the score . That’s your job.” (Obviously, in that West Virginia game, Mary showed up but William didn’t.)
—Obnoxious Commercial VI: Hey, Spectrum. Your TV spot is so much jibber-jabber, balderdash, flap-doodle, hemming-and-hawing, hogwash and flim flam. Stop it.