Observations: A man with 35 jobs in 35 years

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, bleary-eyed after watching three college basketball games in one sitting and waiting to watch Wright State and Dayton tonight. That’s not Wright State vs. Dayton. Two separate games.

—One of my favorite person to work along-side me during my 58 years as a sports journalist was Rob Parker.

Parker is celebrating his 35th year in the business and, incredibly, he has had 35 different jobs — sometimes two and three at a time as a writer, radio host and TV personality.

What I admired greatly was that Parker never ducked controversy. Instead, he stuck out his chin. And it cost him a few jobs, but he never backed down.

Among many stops, he worked at the New York Daily News, Newsday, the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit News, ESPN and the Cincinnati Enquirer.

It was in the 1990s when he covered the Cincinnati Reds for the Enquirer while I was with the Dayton Daily News.

During that time he wrote a Sunday column and said that the Reds, “Are being operated like a mom and pop grocery store.”

We were in St. Louis and when we walked into the clubhouse that Sunday morning manager Lou Piniella approached and said, “Rob. . .into my office.”

Piniella closed the door. They might call him ‘Sweet Lou,’ but he isn’t a guy you want angry at you. Lou’s loud voiced seeped through the door. And so did Parker’s. He stood up to Piniella and gained my total respect.

Parker was hired by The Enquirer just before spring training. He arrived in Tampa with a lap-top that didn’t work and mentioned it to me the day we met.

I said, “No problem. We’ll share mine. When I’m not using it, it is yours.” He used it for a few days until the paper sent him a new one.

And it was if I had given him my open checkbook. He never forgot it.

Parker left Cincinnati to become the first black sports columnist at The Free Press. When the Reds threw me a ‘retirement’ party in 2010, Parker was there.

—How can a basketball team that beat Mississippi State and Ole Miss lose to Fordham? If you know the answer send it to Anthony Grant, ℅ University of Dayton Basketball Office, Dayton, Ohio.

It is sort of the same question about how can a team beat a team by 49 points on one night and lose to the same team the next night by 10 points? If you know the answer send it to Scott Nagy, ℅ Wright State University Basketball Office, Fairborn, Ohio.

—PREDICTION: Gonzaga is going to be tough to beat. Correction. The Zags probably won’t be beat.

They had a game scheduled Thursday, but Santa Clara couldn’t play due to COVID-19. So Gonzaga coach Mark Few got on the phone and called Brigham Young, probably because the Los Angeles Lakers were busy or wouldn’t take the call.

Brigham Young wishes it hadn’t answered. BYU is very good, 9-and-2 when Few’s call came in.

Gonzaga jumped to a 23-2 lead, led at halftime, 52-29, and won, 86-69. The Zags are 11-and-0 with easy wins over Kansas (102-90), Auburn (90-67, West Virginia (87-82) Virginia (98-75) and, uh, Dixie State (112-67). And they are averaging 95 points a game.

After the game, BYU coach Mark Pope told Few, “Next time, don’t call us and we won’t call you.”

—QUOTE: From Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow: Ohio State doesn’t have a chip on its shoulder. They have a boulder on their shoulder.” (And like Sisyphus, the Buckeyes will be pushing that boulder uphill against Alabama.)

—As he ran off the field after the Washington Football Teamskins clinched a playoff spot last Sunday, former Ohio State linebacker Chase Young was heard yelling, “Tom Brady, Tom Brady, I’m coming. I want Tom. I want Tom,”

The Teamskins and Young meet Tampa Bay and quarterback Tom Brady in the first round of the playoffs.

Why do players continue to furnish bulletin board material for the opposition? As Vince Lombardi would say, “Just shut up and play.”

Young, though, isn’t backing down. He was asked if he was sorry he said that and Young doubled down.

“I’m excited to go against the best. The media, their job is to stir it up,” he said. “If you know me, I’m excited for every game. Tom Brady, you think I’m not excited to play against the GOAT? You trippin’. I’m not going to apologize for saying I want Tom. No, I want every quarterback I play against.”

Every time I double down at the blackjack table I usually lose.

—Ha-Seong Kim must believe the Major Leagues is a snap, that it’s as easy to win the World Series as eating a cream puff.

On the day the Korean slugger signed a contract with the San Diego Padres, he said, “The main reason I joined the Padres is that the Padres are not only a contender but will become the World Series champions this year.”

Does he know the Padres have played in only two World Series and lost them both? Does he know about some team in the same division known as the Los Angeles Dodgers? Does he know Chase Young?

—QUOTE: From former pitcher/broadcaster Dizzy Dean: “Sure I eat what I advertise. Sure I eat Wheaties for breakfast. A good bowl of Wheaties with bourbon can’t be beat.” (Wonder if he ever tried Cheerios with Tito’s?)

—Willie Mays did many amazing things during his career. How about this one. He is the only player in MLB history to hit at least one home run in every inning at some point: The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th. And if he ever played a 17-inning game and an 18-inning game, he’d have two more innings to his name

—Stolen from fellow sports journalist Mark Schmetzer about former University of Cincinnati football coach Tommy Tuberville, now a U.S. Senator from Alabama: “Tommy Tuberville gets sworn in and the Capitol’s defense immediately falls apart.” (UC’s defense under Tuberville was like the parting of the Red Sea.)

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