By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave after witnessing two can-you-believe it-games. . .one football, one baseball.
—What an incredible, incredible, incredible game. No, no, no. I don’t mean the Tampa Bay-Los Angeles World Series game. Yes, that was incredible.
What was Incredible, with a capital I, was the Cleveland Browns 37-34 Hollywood finish over the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday afternoon.
The Browns were down three points with 65 seconds left. They were at their 25 with no timeouts. And quarterback Baker Mayfield took them the 75 yards for the game-winning touchdown with 11 seconds left. The touchdown was a 24-yard toss into the end zone, where rookie Donovan Peoples-Jones made a stupendous catch.
When Mayfield missed his first five passes, and his first throw was an interception, some quick-witted ‘fan’ posted on Facebook, “Baker Mayfield sucks.”
So what does he think about the Bengals defense now? Mayfield hit a franchise-record 21 passes in a row. He threw for 297 yards and five touchdowns.
And it was only because time ran out on Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow did Cincinnati lose. He was 35 for 47 for 406 yards and three touchdowns.
Classify this one as grasping at a paper straw, as pointed out by Jay Morrison of The Athletic before Sunday’s game. The last 11 NFL teams that owned a 21-point lead or more and lost, came back the next week and won.
So, if history prevailed, after the Cincinnati Bengals poofed away a 21-point lead to the Indianapolis Colts and lost last week, that meant the Bengals would beat the Cleveland Browns Sunday, right?
As one of my Bengals-loving friends said after te game, through tight lips, “Only the Bengals.”
The 5-and-2 Browns were more ripe than a black banana for a beating. After the Pittsburgh Steelers left Mayfield standing on the field as if dressed in the emperor’s clothes, he said, “After that loss, 4-2 has never felt so much like 0-6.”
On Sunday, that 0-and-6 feeling should now feel like 6-and-0.
—And now that incredible finish to Game 4 of the World Series. The Tampa Bay Rays were down to their final strike against the Los Angeles Dodgers, trailing by 7-6.
There were runners on second and first with two outs and some guy named Brett Phillips at the plate. He wasn’t on the playoff roster but was added to the World Series roster as a defensive guy…maybe a pinch-runner. And that’s how Phillips entered the game, a pinch-runner in the eighth inning for Ji-Man Choi.
Then, the Dodgers made five mistakes on one play, five mistakes that cost them the game.
ONE: Relief pitcher Kenley Jansen, needing one more strike, threw a pitch that my Aunt Opal could have hit. As Reds broadcaster Jeff Brantley would say with his Mississippi drawl, “Right down broadway.” And Phillips shot it for a single to center field and the tying run scored easily.
TWO: Center fielder Chris Taylor, in haste to field the ball, kicked it about ten feet away .
THREE: First baseman Max Muncy took the cutoff throw, seeing that the runner on first, rookie Randy Arozarena was not stopping at third. Muncy threw home, hide-wide-and-ugly. It took catcher Will Smith to his right, away from the on-rushing Arozarena.
FOUR: Arozarena fell flat on his face between third and home. Smith did not know it. He tried to grab Muncy’s wide throw and whirled to his left , ready to make a sweep tag. The ball, though was not in his glove. It had squirted away.
FIVE: Jansen was playing spectator, watching it all unfold instead of backing up home plate the way every Little League player is taught. Arozarena scrambled to his feet and dove for the plate.
Game over. Rays win, 8-7. And LA manager Dave Roberts could be seen pounding his fists on the dugout roof. He had a choice of heads to pound. . .Jansen, Taylor, Muncy or Smith.
QUOTE: From Tampa Bay’s Brett Phillips, after his game-winning single: “I don’t know what happened, but then (Arozarena) scored. The next thing I know, I’m airplane-ing around the outfield and I get dog-piled and here I am.” (Yes, there he was, the most unlikely of unlikely World Series stars.)
—The pundits kept saying that the only trap game for Ohio State this year would be the Buckeyes’ trip to Happy Valley next week to face Penn State.
Really? Happy Valley is not a happy place right now. Penn State was trapped by Indiana in overtime Saturday.
So I guess the ‘big game’ for OSU now is Indiana’s visit to ‘The Shoe’ November 28.
Are you kidding? The last time Indiana beat OSU Ronald Reagan was president, Oliver North was convicted on conspiracy, a move ticket cost $5, a gallon of gas was 96 cents and the Los Angeles Dodgers last won a World Series.
It was 1988 and OSU was coach by John Cooper. The Hoosiers were coached by former Miami coach Bill Mallory and IU hung a 41-7 shiner on the Bucks. Since then Ohio State was thumped Indiana 24 straight times, mostly by lop-sided, double-digit scores.
—QUOTE: From Ohio State coach Woody Hayes, spoken to coach Bo Schembechler after his Michigan team beat Ohio State, 24-12, ruining a perfect season for OSU: “Damn you, Bo. You’ll NEVER win a bigger game.”
—Dave Parker’s biography, ‘Cobra,’ is scheduled for release next April and can’t wait to read it.
An early review from Dr. Gerald Early, chair of African and African-American Studies at Washington University of Saint Louis:
“Dave Parker’s autobiography takes us back to the time when ballplayers still smoked cigarettes, when stadiums were multi-use mammoth bowls, when Astroturf wrecked knees with abandon, and when Blacks had their largest presence on the field in the game’s history. Honest, informative, funny, sad, even at times touching, Parker’s book fills a major void.”
When Parker played for the Reds — and, yes, he belongs in the Hall of Fame, he was one of the funniest guys in the clubhouse. His locker was a must-stop for writers, whether he had anything to do with a win or loss or not.
For example, after one game during which Ted Power pitched a beauty and Parker did nothing, the writers were gathered by Parker’s locker, laughter surrounding it. Power was sitting across the way, by himself, and said
“Why are they talking to you? You didn’t do anything,” said Power.
Parker looked Power’s way and said, loudly, “Because I’m a humorous m——- f——-.”
—QUOTE: From former Reds outfielder Dave Park: “When the leaves turn brown, I’ll be wearing the batting crown.” (Parker won back-to-back National League batting titles in 1977 (.338) and 1978 (.334) with the Pittsburgh Pirates and hit .312 for the 1985 Reds.)
—When it is announced, Trevor Bauer will become the first Cy Young Award winner for the Cincinnati Reds. Bauer said his year with the Reds was the most fun he ever had playing baseball. Fun is fun, but money is even more fun. Bauer will take the money and run. . .from Cincinnati to the highest bidder with a chance to win the World Series.
—Some Cincinnati Reds nicknames during my time:
Chris Spuds Sabo, Cactus Jack Billingham, George Yahtzee Foster, Tony Big Dog Perez, Lee Big Bopper May, Tom Mr. Perfect Browning, Pete Riverboat Gambler Schourek, Cesare Chief Geronimo, Adam Big Donkey Dunn, Junior Griffey, Brad The Animal Lesley, Danny The Baby-Faced Assassin Graves, Sean The Mayor Casey, Brad Rock Pile Gulden, Jeff Mr. Magoo Reed.
Darrel Nort Chaney, Joe Little Joe Morgan, Davey Mague Concepcion, Calvin Pokey Reese, Gary Noggin’ Nolan, Eric The Red Davis, Jose Blame It On Rijo, Ron True Creature Robinson, Tom Boom Boom Hume, Captain Jack Armstrong, Eddie Special Ed Taubensee, Aristides The Punisher Aquino, David Stormy Weathers, Aroldis The Cuban Missile Chapman, Anthony Disco DeSclafani and, of course, Pete Charlie Hustle Rose..
Trader Jack McKeon, Sweet Lou Piniella, Sparky Captain Hook Anderson, Barnyard Bernie Stowe. . .and my favorite is the name Pete Rose slapped on the training room whirlpool tub because outfielder Ken Henderson spent so much time in it: The SS Henderson.
—Obnoxious Commercials VII: “If you or a loved one was diagnosed with Mesothelioma you may be entitled to financial compensation.” (I do not like scary and intimidating commercials. Hopefully, people just stay away from asbestos.)