By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave as I prepare to devour a lunch of a salad and some leftover clam chowder. The pandemic has laid waste to my waist-line.
—There isn’t an Italian restaurant in the country worth its marinara sauce that doesn’t have an autographed photo of Tommy Lasorda hanging on the wall.
A photo of Lasorda, who died last week, is even better than a Michelin Three-Star rating.
There is, of course, a photo of Lasorda in a hallway at Mamma DiSalvo’s in Kettering. . .my favorite Italian restaurant anywhere.
“He was a great manager, an old-timer like Sparky Anderson,” said Bobby DiSalvo, the personable and convivial main man at the fantastic ristorante.
One more Lasorda story before we let the Los Angeles Dodger managerial legend R.I.P. Some people, mosty anti-Dodger fans, considered Lasorda a blowhard.
There was a day Lasorda did blow hard and it involves former Cincinnati Reds manager John McNamara.
Both Tommy and Johnny Mac were devout Catholics and attended mass regularly. When the Dodgers were in Cincinnati, Lasorda walked into a church in Northern Kentucky and saw McNamara light a votive candle. After McNamara left, Lasorda blew it out.
That night at the stadium, every time McNamara tried some strategy, Lasorda yelled from the Dodgers dugout, “That won’t work, Mac. I blew out your candle.”
—QUOTE: From Tommy Lasorda after a check-up with a doctor: “I was told to stay away from
pasta and bread for two weeks. Not eating pasta? That’ll kill me. Anything else, but why pasta?”
—Perhaps I shouldn’t have ordered the Bama Slamma taco at Agave & Rye in Troy Saturday night, a couple of days before the Ohio State-Alabama national championship game. But it was scrumptious.
Alabama had more weapons that an arms dealer and used them all against the defenseless Buckeyes. OSU’s secondary took social distancing to a higher level. It didn’t come within a 10-foot pole of Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith.
Smith caught 12 passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns, all in the first half. He left early in the second half with a dislocated finger. Ohio State’s defense didn’t know he was gone because it never saw him in the first half, either.
—This one is a shocker, at least to me. Of the four quarterbacks for the four surviving teams in the AFC playoffrs, Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield is the oldest.
He is 25, 156 days older than Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes. Buffalo’s Josh Allen is 24, as is Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson.
The NFC is the ‘old geezer’ conference. Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady is 43, New Orleans’ Drew Brees is 41, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers is 37 and Jared Goff of the Los Angeles Rams is 26.
In other words, all four NFC quarterbacks are older than any surviving quarterback in the AFC playoffs.
—QUOTE: From ageless pitcher Satchel Paige, whose true age was always up for debate: “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?” (Brady, Brees and Rodgers all act as if age is no factor to being great quarterbacks.)
—Because they are Cleveland natives, Arsenio Hall and Drew Carey are Cleveland Browns fans. What we didn’t know, until it was revealed this week on ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary on the city of Cleveland, is that Hank Aaron is a huge Browns fan. He used to disguise himself and sit in The Dawg Pound.
Does he still do it? Who knows? He disguises himself. And why the Browns? Because of former tight end Ozzie Newsome.
“Newsome went to the University of Alabama (Editor’s Note: Boo!). I followed his career when the ball club drafted him. Then, I followed him all through his playing career. He was probably one of the top tight ends in football,” said Aaron.
“They should have gone to the Super Bown, then what’s his name fumbled on the two or three yard line,” Aaron added.
Yeah, old What’s His Name. It was Earnest Byner and he fumbled at the two. Then John Elway drove the Denver Broncos 98 yards to a touchdown, the Broncos kicked a field goal in overtime and they went Super Bowling instead of the Browns.
But who remembers that stuff?
—With 68, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger came close to his 100-pitch limit. Whoops, wrong sport. For sure, though, the Steelers quarteback had to have a sore arm Monday after 68 passes. Footballs are heavier than baseballs.
And, yes, Roethlisberger played high school baseball at Findlay (O.) High School and was the team captain.
—Warren Spahn, Bob Gibson and Juan Marichal did something that won’t happen in these modern days where starters pitched five-and-fly.
All three had more complete games than wins. Spahn had 363 wins and 382 complete games. Gibson won 251 and completed 255. Marichal won 243 and completed 244.
Greg Maddux? Not even close — 355 wins, 109 complete games.
—QUOTE: From New York Yankees pitcher Catfish Hunter on teammate Reggie Jackson: ”He would give you the shirt off his back. Of course he’d call a press conference to announce it.”
—Add another pitcher’s name to the list of ‘could-be’ traded by the Cincinnati Reds. Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo rumors have abounded the last couple of months.
The Tampa Bay Rays have interest in Tyler Mahle, somebody the Reds shoulds have no interest in trading. He is only 26 and will make the major-league minimum salary of $570,500 in 2021. At that age and that price, he should be a keeper, especially after the Reds have already lost pitchers Trevor Bauer, Anthony DeSclafani, Robert Stephenson, Archie Bradley and Raisel Iglesias.
—Let’s re-visit this phenomenon, this how-can-this happen question:
January 1: Wright State 90, Oakland 51. Next night: Oakland 81, Wright State 71.
Janurary 8: Youngstown State 74, Wright State 72. Next night: Wright State 93, Youngstown State 55.
Based on that trend, here is my prediction for the back-to-back games between Cleveland State and Wright State January 15-16:
FRIDAY: Cleveland State 71, Wright State 70. SATURDAY: Wright State 96, Cleveland State 60.
—QUOTE: From former Kansas City Sta columnist Bill Vaughn: “Any American boy can be a basketball star when he grows up. . .up, up, up and up..”
—You can make this stuff up, but who would believe it? There is a linebacker at Alan Hancock College in Santa Monica, Calif., named Honus Wagner. Shouldn’t he be playing baseball?
Well, he did play baseball at North Forsythe (Ga.) High School and his parents did name him after Honus Wagner, who played his last major league game in 1917. Wonder if he has a brother named Daddy Wags? (Look up Leon Wagner, kids.)
—Some jokes they actually told on ESPN after Jim Harbaugh signed an extension to continue coaching football at Michigan.
How do you protect your kids from a wolverine? Move to Columbus.
Knock, knock. Who’s there? Owen. Owen who?
Owen-seven against Ohio State.