By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave after watching West Virginia come back from 19 down in the second half to beat Oklahoma State on the road, 87-84. Somewhere John Denver is singing, ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads.’
—One of the fiercest competitors I ever encountered was pitcher Danny Jackson, who turned 59 this week.
Jackson was a guy that you approached with extreme caution after he lost a game. Make certain your insurance is paid up and maybe you should wear catcher’s equipment with mask in place.
There was a game in 1988 when an error led to Jackson’s removal from a game and he was charged with a loss.
The media should have known better than to approach Jackson after the game. The wooden frame of his locker stall was in splinters after Jackson beat it to death with his spikes.
One brave writer (not me) approached Jackson with trepidation and meekly asked an explosive question: “Do you think that error cost you the game?”
Jackson’s face turned the same color as his Reds cap and he stared at his inquisitor with fire in his eyes and said, “Well, first of all, I’d like to unscrew your head and shit down your neck.”
Uh, thank you, Mr. Jackson. Have a nice night.
That loss was one of the few he suffered in 1988. The feisty left hander was 23-8 with a 2.73 earned run average and tied for the league lead in complete games with 15.
Instead of Trevor Bauer becoming the first Reds pitcher to win the Cy Young award, it should have been Jackson. He got my vote, but he finished second to Orel Hershiser of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Hershiser’s and Jackson’s stats were eerily similar. Hershiser was 23-8 with a 2.26 ERA and tied Jackson with 15 complete games. That, though, was the year Hershiser set a major league record with 59 consecutive scoreless innings. And that made the difference.
The Reds acquired Jackson in 1987 when they traded pitcher Ted Power and infielder Kurt Stillwell to Kansas City.
The trade was made by new GM Murray Cook, a tennis opponent I could never beat. Stillwell was a favorite of owner Marge Schott and after the November, 1987 trade she said to me, “I can’t believe it. They traded my little Kurty.” And to Murray, she said, “This better work.” It did. Why? Because the Reds had two shortstops, Stillwell and Barry Larkin. One had to go. Cook mad the right choice.
That 1988 season was Jackson’s best. In 15 seasons he was 112-131. In 1990, the year the Reds swept the Oakland A’s in the World Series, Jackson was 6-6 with a 3.61 ERA in 21 starts. He started Game 2 o the World Series and gave up four runs and six hits in 2 2/3 innings, but the Reds came back to win it, 5-4, in 10 innings.
Jackson was a free agent after the ’90 season and signed with the Chicago Cubs.
—QUOTE: From Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax: “Pitching is the art of instilling fear.” (Danny Jackson knew how to instill fear in the media.)
—Sparky Anderson did many things to gain everlasting fame, including once walking Ken Griffey Jr. intentionally with the bases loaded when Sparky managed in Detroit.
But how about what Cincinnati Reds manager Lou Piniella did in a game during the 1990 wire-to-wire season.
In May, against the Chicago Cubs, he had his pitchers intentionally walk Andre Dawson five times, a record that still stands.
Tom Browning walked him twice, Scott Scudder walked him twice and Tim ‘Big Bird’ Birtsas walked him once. Amazingly, Dawson did not score a run, but the Reds lost, 2-1, in 16 innings.
In the bottom of the 16th, Dawson came to bat with one out and runners on first and third. Piniella had him walked for the fifth time.
As Dawson trotted toward first, he glanced into the Reds’ dugout. Piniella spread his arms and said, “It’s not my fault the guys in front of you keep getting on.” Dave Clark then singled to end it.
—QUOTE: From Lou Piniella on why he walked Andre Dawson five times in one game: “Hey, I don’t need to tell you that Dawson’s been hot and it’s not like this is the first time the guy’s been on fire. So I figured, if somebody is going to beat us, fine, but not him.” (And somebody did. Dave Clark. . .and he was not a member of The Dave Clark Five, a group that sang, ‘Glad All Over,” which the Cubs were that day.)
—It has been a couple of months since baseball season ended and let’s take a quick peek what the Cincinnati Reds have done:
Got Rid Of: Trevor Bauer, Raisel Iglesias, Archie Bradley, Curt Casali, Robert Stephenson, Freddy Galvis, Brian Goodwin.
Added (Ten points for every one of these players you have heard of because some might have come from the Witness Protection Program): Jeff Hoffman, Noe Ramirez, Brandon Bailey, Edgar Garcia, Deivy Grullon, Scott Heineman.
—Wright State University basketball coach Scott Nagy has had a mantra all season about the Horizon League’s format.
For all league games, teams play each other on back-to-back days in the same venue. And Nagy has said over and over and over again, “It is really difficult to win two straight games from the same opponent on back-to-back days. It is especially tough on the team that wins the first game.”
But Wright State beat Oakland on Friday at Oakland, 90-51, a 39-point victory. The Raiders couldn’t possibly lose to Oakland at Oakland the next day, could they? They did, 81-71. That’s a 49-point turnaround.
Scott Nagy. . .basketball genius. But he certainly didn’t want his point proved the way it was.
—Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson is accepting no special delivery boxes with a New York postmark, especially if it’s ticking.
The New York Giants needed the Eagles to beat the Washington Football Teamskins (nickname stolen from the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Paul Daugherty) for the Giants to make the playoffs.
With the Eagles trailing by just 17-14 after three quarters, Pederson pulled quarterback Jalen Hurts, who had run for two touchdowns.
He replaced Hurts with back-up quarterback Nate Sudfeld, “Because he has been with us for four years and I thought he deserved some reps,” said Pederson.
The Eagles lost, 20-14, putting Washington into the playoffs and putting the New York Giants out in the street.
Pederson earned an award: Cur of the Year, presented by the American Kennel Club.
—Latest from Clemson coach Dabo Swinney on voting Ohio State No. 11 in the country:
“That was a mistake. I accidentally added an extra ‘1.’ Instead of ’11’ it should have been ‘1.’”
Or, “What I really meant was that Ohio State would be playing on the 11th.”
—Received this e-mail from amazon.com this week: “Hello Hal McCoy: We found something we think you might like.”
For $19.95 I could purchase a book entitled, ‘The Real McCoy: My Half-Century With the Cincinnati Reds.’
Like it? I love it. I wrote the damn thing.