By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATION from The Man Cave awaiting Game 6 of the World Series and another of those infernal ‘Bullpen Games’ by the Dodgers. On to Game 7.
—When the 2020 World Series epitaph is written, there will be one perplexing question: Who is Randy Arozarena?
For starters, his nickname is El Cohete Cubano, The Cuban Rocket. His is 25-years-old and until the World Series he was just some rookie prospect playing mostly in anonymity for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Now, on baseball’s Broadway stage, he is a sensation, already setting a record for most post-season home runs (9) and most post-season hits (27).
And he shall be remembered as the only baserunner every to fall on his face between third and home and scramble to his feet to score a walk-off run in a World Series game.
His story, as told by James Wagner in the New York Times, begins in Cuba. His father died from shellfish poisoning in 2014 and Arozarena tried to support his mother and two brothers on $38 a month.
He was angered when he was 20 and Cuba left him off its Caribbean World Series team, even though he hit .291 during the season. Cuba feared he would defect.
And he did. But to do it he fled in a small boat for a harrowing eight-hour voyage, riding 15-foot waves, from Cuba to Mexico.
He ended up in camp run by the Tijuana Toros, where he had to share spikes and a glove with another prospect.
To show a scout how athletic he is, he did a hand-stand and walked from home plate to first base — on his hands. The St. Louis Cardinals signed him to a $1.25 million contract and told him he could run on his feet, no hand-stands necessary.
He played 19 games for the 2019 Cardinals and hit .300, but St. Louis traded him to Tampa Bay before the season for a top pitching prospect.
And now he is becoming a World Series legend, even if people can’t pronounce his name, which is Ah-Roz-ah-rena
—QUOTE: From Tampa Bay pitcher Tyler Glasnow: “Randy Arozarena has to be the best baseball player on earth right now. Just being able to sit back and watch him do what he does is phenomenal.”
—This one, as found by Bob Crotty, came from Sweet Lou Piniella in 2005 when he was managing a Tampa Bay Devil Rays team that kept finishing last: “Bad, bad baseball. That’s what it is. Bad, bad, bad baseball” (What Lou meant to say was that his Devil Rays were playing, uh, bad baseball.)
—The talking heads on ESPN talk as if the Cleveland Browns should sell their footballs and lock the stadium because they’ve lost wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. for the season.
If they paid attention, they would notice that quarterback Baker Mayfield completed 21 straight passes, without Beckham, completed 22 of 28 passes, without Beckham, threw for 297 yards, without Beckham, and threw five touchdown passes, without Beckham.
One never wants to see anybody hurt, but without Beckham on the sidelines pleading to be targeted more, Mayfield is better at seeking out a bevy of other receivers.
—QUOTE: From the oft-criticized Baker Mayfield: “I’ve learned I can’t change every opinion or have everyone’s approval. If I get caught up in that, I’m worried about the wrong things.” (He certainly wasn’t worried about the Bengals secondary Sunday in the Browns’ 37-34 victory.)
—The Wonderful World of Ohio was the quarterback capital of the world over the weekend. Four quarterbacks, two pro, two college covered more ground than a North Dakota snowstorm Saturday and Sunday.
*Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals — 35-47, 406 yards, 3 touchdowns.
*Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns, 22-28, 297 yards, 5 touchdowns.
*Justin Fields, Ohio State, 20-21, 276 yards, 2 touchdowns.
*Desmond Ridder, University of Cincinnati, 13-21, 126 yards, 1 touchdown.
That’s a combined 90-107, 1,105 yards, 11 touchdowns.
—QUOTE: From former Minnesota Vikings coach Bud Grant: “A good football coach needs a patient wife, a loyal dog and a great quarterback – but not necessarily in that order.” (Let’s hope that Bengals coach Zac Taylor has a patient wife and a loyal dog. He has the great quarterback.)
—The Masters is only a couple of weeks away. Defending champion Tiger Woods finished tied for 72nd last week in something called the Zozo Championship.
The one thing that amazes me about golf these days is that Bryson DeChambeau is averaging 344.4 yards this year with his driver, also known as a missile launcher. He skipped the Zozo and practiced in Texas, where he said he reached a personal goal by launching a tee shot more than 400 yards.
Wonder what it is like to hit a wedge on the second shot of every par-four hole?
I once – just once – drove the green on the 273-yard ninth hole on the Community Dales (Inside) course). The tee was up front and it was August and the fairway was like I75. Then I three-putted. DeChambeau would have hit his drive over the clubhouse.
—QUOTE: From pro golfer Bryson DeChambeau: “I could have gone to parties and had fun at adventure parks. But I went out and worked my butt off for eight hours playing golf.” (Eight hours of golf daily? Oh, the pain. Oh, the suffering.)
—There is more than one team from Ohio in the Top Ten. Ohio State showed up at No. 3, while Luke Fickell’s Cincinnati Bearcats are No. 7 after they lassoed the previously unbeaten SMU Mustangs, 42-13 on the road.
This is the best UC team since Brian Kelly took the 2009 team to the Sugar Bowl. And there is talk out there that if the Bearcats win out — and they can — they could join Clemson, Ohio State and Alabama in the national championship playoffs.
Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports called UC the nation’s most underrated team, believes the Bearcats will run the ball and, “Become the CFP’s (college football playoffs) intruder.”
—QUOTE: From Michigan State University trustee Brian Musallam after Luke Fickell interviewed for the head coaching job and turned it down: “Spartan Nation should want somebody that wants to be here. We don’t want a waffling flake who views this as a destination job.” (So, Luke didn’t like Sparty. And MSU probably wouldn’t want to play UC this year.)
—A salute to Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren for an historic event Saturday. The 12-person officiating crew for the Michigan-Minnesota football was all black, 11 men and one woman. It was the first time an all-black officiating crew worked a Power Five football game.
And the best part was that it was hardly noticed, although the Minneapolis Star-Tribune published a photo of the crew posing together at the 50-yard line in Sunday’s editions.
—Top Ten OFC (On-Line Football Conference): All games are played on-line because these schools not only don’t have football teams, they don’t have campuses, hence no football stadiums:
1. University of the People (The People-Eaters), 2. Walden University (The Ponders), 3. West Governor University (The Governor Governors), 4. Columbia Southern University (The Gems of the Ocean), 5. Charter Oaks State College (The Oaks), 6. Excelsior College (The Excellents), 7. Peirce College (The Arrows), 8. DeVry University (The DeStroyers), 9. Ashford University (The Phoenix), 10. Southern New Hampshire University (The Snhus).