OBSERVATIONS: One of the Reds all-time worst trades? Paul O’Neill

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave keeping fingers crossed that Ol’ Man COVID-19 doesn’t disrupt Ohio State’s run t0 the Big Ten title and a trip to the CFP.

—Most folks firmly believe the worst trade the Cincinnati Reds ever made was sending Frank Robinson to Baltimore for less trinkets than the Native Americans received for Manhattan Island. Yep, that was a stinkeroo.

And others point to the deal that sent Tony Perez to Montreal for what appeared to be a used Maple Leaf flag and some Canadian bacon. That one, too, had an odor to it.

One of my least favorites was the deal that sent outfielder Paul O’Neill to the New York Yankees in 1992 for Roberto Kelly. That one smelled like three skunks in the middle of the road.

O’Neill became a star with the Yankees during his nine seasons and won about a half-dozen World Series rings. Kelly played one year with the Reds, all of 74 games.

O’Neill was an accomplished line drive hitter, an ultra-competitive guy who believed he should get a hit every time up. When he didn’t, his face turned as red as his batting helmet. And he destroyed enough helmets in the dugout to protect the heads of the British Army.

I observed an early taste of O’Neill’s temper. O’Neill was in spring training camp for the first time in 1985 at old Al Lopez Field in Tampa.

It was towards the end 9f camp and my son, Brent, was at an exhibition game with me. We were lounging in the hot sun in the left field bleachers, close to the Reds clubhouse.

I sent Brent into the clubhouse to fetch us some soft drinks. When he returned, he said, “Paul O’Neill is in there tearing up the clubhouse. He’s throwing shoes and gloves and equipment all over the room.”

It turned out that Brent had walked into the clubhouse right after manager Pete Rose told O’Neill he was heading back to the minors and my son caught the immediate eruption.

It was that competitive spirit that pushed O’Neill throughout his career. And it wasn’t just in baseball.

O’Neill was an accomplished tennis player, good enough to hit with touring pro Jim Courier. . .and hold his own. I played O’Neill one day and he showed no mercy, took no prisoners and ran me 0ff the court.

—QUOTE: From Paul O’Neill before the last game of his career with the Yankees: “I never thought baseball was lucky to have me. I always knew how lucky I was to have baseball.”

—It is not true that the Cleveland Browns are thinking about drafting Vanderbilt’s female kicker, Sarah Fuller, after Cody Parkey missed a 38-yard field goal and an extra point against Baltimore.

Or, are they?

—QUOTE: From former Cincinnati Bengals placekicker Neil Rackers: “I’d go to a restaurant with my wife and hear, ‘You don’t deserve your job. You’re overpaid, you bum,’ and other unprintable comments.” (For sure he wasn’t overpaid by the Bengals. Nobody is.)

—The Washington Redskins are now the Washington Football Team and after the 2021 season the Cleveland Indians will become the Cleveland Baseball Team until a suitable nickname is selected.

So did Cleveland manager Terry Francona really say this: “I’ve been a player to be named later many times but never a team to be named later.”

—Some suggested new nicknames: Cleveland Spiders, Cleveland Blue Sox, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Clouters, Cleveland Clinicians and this one from an anonymous friend. . .Cleveland Cleavage.

And there are reports that MLB has filed a trademark for Cleveland Citizens. Oh, great. Headline writers will shorten that to ‘Zits.’

—Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield threw a Hail Mary pass at the end of the first half Monday night against the Baltimore Ravens.

The ball traveled 70 1/2 yards in the air — the longest in-the-air NFL pass ever recorded by Pro Football Focus (PFF).

One problem. The ball was en route to Elyria and carried beyond the end zone. Perhaps it was intended for a security officer.

—QUOTE: Fr0m Baker Mayfield: “There are spots that I have to hit. Throws I can’t miss.” (OK, so how can you miss an entire end zone?)

—When the Cleveland Browns play the New2 York Giants Sunday night, former Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens, now the Giants tight end coach, will be calling the plays for the Giants.

Upon hearing that, Browns fans should be dancing down Euclid Avenue.

—There is this magnificent $5 billion edifice in Inglewood, Calif., the SoFi Stadium, the shared home of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers.

The S0Fi complex is bigger than Disneyland but due to the COVID-19 not a single fan has watched a single down in the grid-iron palace.

—QUOTE: From former Olympic decathlon champion Bill Toomey: “I have competed before empty stadiums a lot in my career.” (He could have been talking about Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ball Park. . .before the pandemic.)

—What is it that the College Football Playoffs (CFP) committee doesn’t like about the University of Cincinnati? Did coach Luke Fickell pee in their iced tea?

Despite not playing a game, the unbeaten Bearcats fell from sixth to ninth in the rankings. And UC is behind three two-loss teams — Iowa State, Florida and Georgia.

Iowa State lost by two touchdowns to Louisiana. . .that’s Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns, not Louisiana State.

And, oh, Florida did lose to Louisiana State, a team struggling t9 reach .500.

—QUOTE: From basketball analyst Jay Bilas on the College Football Playoffs committee dismissing Cincinnati: “Cincinnati really messed up. The Bearcats should’ve scheduled Louisiana, lost by two touchdowns, and they they would have risen in the CFP rankings (like Iowa State did).”

—It is fun watching the TVG horse racing network that televises races from all over the country.

The network has several commentators/horse racing experts that break down each horse in each race with comments on breeding, track preferences, past performances and how the horses appears and acts coming out of the paddock.

Then they confidently make their picks and do no better than you or I. Picking horses is as reliable as weather forecasting. Few horses win all the time or even finish in the money.

One exception was a horse named Frankel, a horse that never lost. From 2010 to 2012 it ran 14 times and won all 14, including 11 Grade 1s. TimeForm, which ranks horses, gave it a 147, its highest ranking ever.

—QUOTE: From an anonymous horse player: “The difference between praying in church and praying at a race track is that you really mean it at a race track.”

—QUOTE: From ESPN talking head JWill: “I think the Cleveland Browns have a chance to win the Super Bowl.” (Uh, he didn’t say what year. . .and with that head-shaker we’ll close this episode.)

3 thoughts on “OBSERVATIONS: One of the Reds all-time worst trades? Paul O’Neill”

  1. Love, love, love the quotes Hal! I saw O;Neil in a box at Yankee Stadium at the end of the 2019 season and he is still as wired as ever.

  2. The WORST trade in Reds history was when the Reds traded for Amos Rusie. All they gave up was a young man named Christy Mathewson.

  3. Hal,

    Paul and I left Cincinnati at the same time – I went to the Marlins, he to the Yankees. He got more WS rings but it was a good move for both of us. Loved Paul = he and Sabo together were a real pair of intensity. It’s too back and Paul and Sweet Lou couldn’t get on the same page. And you are definitely right, not only was he a great tennis player but also one heck of a basketball player – great athlete period.

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