By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave after watching Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields display the gutsiest and toughest performances I’ve ever seen in 58 years covering sports. Every time I order ribs I’ll think of Justin Fields.
—Some stuff from New Orleans that has nothing to do with Bourbon Street:
(*)Dabo Swinney sent his ballot for the coaches poll late Saturday night. He ranked Clemson 26th.
(*)I’m not a professional lip reader but I believe during a fourth quarter timeout Dabo Swinney said, “C’mon, guys. You’re making me look like a fool.” And one of his big offensive lineman said, “You did that by yourself.”
(*)There should be a Heisman Trophy recount and the only question would be if Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields or Ohio State runningback Trey Sermon would win it.
(*)It looked as if two teams didn’t belong in the CFP semifinals: Notre Dame and Clemson.
(*)Somewhere Woody Hayes is smiling.
(*)The difference between Dabo Swinney and Ryan Day is, well, night and Day.
(*)After watching the University of Cincinnati do most everything right against Georgia, only to lose on a 53-yard last second field goal, the feeling here is that the Bearcats would have been a better opponent for OSU than Clemson.
(*)They hadn’t even presented Ohio State with the Sugar Bowl trophy when Las Vegas installed Alabama as a seven-point favorite in the championship game. Clemson was a seven-point favorite, too. Guess the oddsmakers were playing roulette during the OSU-Clemson game.
(*)Final score: Ohio State 49, Critics & Skeptics 0.
—On September 1, 1971, the Pittsburgh Pirates became the first major league team to field an entire line-up of minorities — all African-Americans and Latinos.
When asked about a lineup of minorities, manager Danny Murtaugh said, “I’m putting nine Pittsburgh Pirates on the field.”
The Minority Nine batting order: Gene Clines, Al Oliver, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Jose Pagan, Rennie Stennett, Dave Cash, Manny Sanguillen, Dock Ellis.
Clemente and Stargell are Hall of Famers and Al Oliver should be.
—QUOTE: From former Pittsburgh Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh: “Why certainly I’d like to have that fellow who hits a home run every time up or who strikes out every opposing batter when he’s pitching or who throws strikes to any base when he plays the outfield. The trouble is trying to get him to put down his beer and come out of the stands and do those things.”
—There is no doubt that Gonzaga’s basketball team is the best in the land right now. Annihilators should be their nickname.
And we all know that COVID-19 is wrecking schedules, forcing teams to adjust on the fly.
But, Dixie State? Gonzaga gouged Dixie State this week, 112-67.
Ten points if you know where Dixie State is? Ten points if you know the school’s nickname. Ten points if you know the league in which Dixie State plays.
Answers: The school isn’t even located in Dixie, it is located in St. George, Utah. Trailblazers. Western Athletic Conference.
Dixie State just became a Division I basketball school and just joined the WAC with such noteworthies as Utah Valley, California Baptist, Texas-Rio Grande, Chicago State, Tarleton State and Texas-Panhandle.
—The latest on free agent pitcher Trevor Bauer: He wanrs a five-year or six-year contract at $35 million to $40 million a year.
Hey, so do I. But I guess you have to win a Cy Young Award.
—On October 30, BetOnLine in Las Vegas listed the Cincinnati Reds at 16 to 1 odds to win the 2021 World Series. Since then, the Reds dumped Archie Bradley, Curt Casali and Raisel Iglesias. They have added nothing of significance and you can’t fool Vegas. The odds have jumped to 33 to 1.
Wonder how high the odds will climb if the Reds trade Sonny Gray and/or Luis Castillo and/or Eugenio Suarez and/or Mike Moustakas?
Meanwhile, after adding pitchers Blake Snell and Yu Darvish, the San Diego Padres dipped from 8 to 1 to 6 to 1, just a tad behind the favorite, the Los Angeles Dodgers at 9 to 2.
And the Padres remain in the chase for Trevor Bauer, who posted a video last week wearing a Padres cap. Signing Bauer probably would drop those odds to about 4 to 1. . .ahead of the Dodgers.
It was a big deal when San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon became the first female to serve as head coach in an NBA game last week. She stepped in when head coach Greg Popovich was ejected.
But wait. Back in 1952 I played for a female coach on the Akron David Hill seventh grade basketball team. I thought I was better than Delmar Eyl, but I was 5-foot-2 and he was 5-foot-8. He played and I kept his seat warm on the sidelines.
I did get some revenge, though. Late in the season, Eyl fouled out midway through the fourth quarter. She sent me in and I hit two shots from near the foul line and we beat arch-rival Mason Elementary, 52-50. That launched toward a career of basketball mediocrity.
—It was former major league pitcher Bob Owchinko’s birthday last week, which reminded me of a story. It was 1984 and Owchinko was in the last year of his career. He pitched for San Diego, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Oakland and Cincinnati.
We were standing outside the team hotel awaiting the arrival of the team bus. When it pulled up, it had ‘Los Angeles Dodgers’ displayed on its marquee.
It was pointed out that the driver had the wrong team displayed, so he began spinning the marquee. As the teams spun by as the driver searched for “Cincinnati Reds,’ San Francisco Giants, Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs and many others shuffled behind the glass, Owchinko looked at me and said, “That’s looks like my career rushing past.”
—Congress has amended the $600 relief bill. Everybody will also get two Cincinnati Bengals tickets and a Montreal Expos cap (non-fitted).
—Sound advice from my dear friend and erstwhile driver Ray Snedegar: “To athletes who think we’re listening to them. . .if I wanted advice from someone who chases a ball, I’d ask my dog.”
My 11-year-old Schnoodle, Paige, leaps in the air and catches a ball with the same dexterity as Willie Mays. And all she ever asks for is a new tennis ball once in a while, two meals a day, a walk and some treats.
—As my dad once told me, “The only man you can’t fool with a lie is the one in the mirror.”
—Asked by author Scott Russell: “Why do we say we are going to put on our shoes and socks when it should be we are going to put on our socks and shoes?” (My old high school basketball coach used the cliche before a big game, “Hey, they put their pants on one leg at a time, just like us.” So before one big game, we all put our pants on both legs at a time. Coach saw no humor in it.)