By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, thankful to have avoided the COVID-19 pandemic, holding off until I get my dose of vaccine next Tuesday. For once, it pays to be 80.
—There is always a time for man to help man (or woman). And definitely it is always time for friend to help friend.
And I consider Mark Schlemmer a very good friend, a good friend who is experiencing a large bump in the road.
Schlemmer, a former talk show host and baseball coach/manager, needs a liver transplant, which is delayed because of other complications.
He withheld his plight for a long time, confiding only to close friends while continuing to post fun things on his Facebook page. Recently he revealed his situation.
He didn’t ask for help. He didn’t feel sorry for himself. He is an upbeat guy. But he does need help. His long-term illness and countless hospital visits cause financial hardships.
So some of his loyal Facebook followers, former University of Dayton basketball star Leighton Moulton, Elvis Presley tribute singer Ryan Roth (the best there is) and Ted Link, are taking steps to help out.
With the help of Heartland Federal Credit Union, a fund is being established called ‘Miracle for Mark.’ Those wishing to help — please, anybody who can — make checks payable to Mark Schlemmer and mail it to Heartland Federal Credit Union, ATT: Ted Link, 3115 South Dixie Drive, Dayton, OH., 45439.
And a few prayers for Mark wouldn’t hurt.
—Ever hear of a pitcher named Bill Thomas, who won 383 games? Me, neither. That’s because al. 383 wins came in the minor leagues from 1926 to 1951.
He did a lot of his pitching one step below the majors in the Pacific Coast League and the American Association and also in the Southern League.
When he was 41 years old, he was 35-7 with 32 complete games and 5-0 in the playoffs for the Houma (La.) Indians in the Class C Evangeline League. When he was 45, he was 23-8 for Houma in 1950.
He pitched until he was 47 to win those 383 games, appearing in 1,016 games and pitching 5,995 innings.
The kicker? No major league team ever signed him. The poor guy must have had the world’s worst bad breath.
—Final thoughts on the Cleveland Browns and three reasons (among others) why they didn’t deserve to beat the Kansas City Chiefs:
ONE: Down five points with less than four minutes to play, they punted. Sure, it was fourth-and-long, but with four minutes left everybody knew they were done. Why not try for the first down?
TWO: The Browns didn’t deserve to win when KC’s back-up quarterback, Chad Henne, scrambles for 13 yards on third-and-14 with less than two minutes left.
THREE: The Browns don’t deserve to win when, after Henne’s scramble, it was fourth-and-one. The Chiefs went for it and Henne completed a pass for a first down.
Game over. Season over. See ya next season.
—When did it become preferable to ‘defer’ when a football team wins the coin toss, which means it kicks off to start the game and receives the second half kickoff.
Why do teams risk falling behind on the other team’s first possession. Ask Ohio State? The Bucks deferred and Alabama rolled right down the field to a touchdown. Ask the Cleveland Browns. They deferred and the Kansas City Chiefs barged down the field to a touchdown.
If I’m a coach — and I never coached a football game — I take the ball and run (or pass).
—Can a baseball game be played in less than three hours? Yes. Two hours? Yes. One hour? Yes.
In 1916, the Class D Asheville Tourists and Winston-Salem played a nine-inning game 31 minutes. It was the last game of the season, had no bearings on the standings and Winston-Salem had a train to catch.
In addition, there was no TV (or radio), no batting gloves to adjust after every pitch and no constant changing of baseballs.
By the way, the Asheville T0urists are now owned by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and his family — DeWine Seeds Silver Dollar Baseball.
A few years ago, Asheville hosted the league All-Star game and the DeWines invited me to be the All-Star luncheon speaker.
The game was played at Asheville’s historic McCormick Field, built in 1924. Talk about nostalgia. I attended the game and, yes, it took longer than 31 minutes.
—Craig Stammen, a San Diego Padres relief pitcher via North Star, Oh., and the University of Dayton, is watching with glee as the Padres continue to grab talent like a closet candy freak attacking a bag of M&Ms with peanuts. The Padres are serious about yanking control of the National League West out of the rich hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Yet. . .
“It is still the Dodgers,” he said. “They won the World Series. Until we unseat them from their throne, they are still the best team.
“The Braves aren’t far off. We’re not far off (Padres), the Cardinals will always be there like they always are. The Cubs will be good, they won’t be bad. Even in our own division, the Giants will be better and the Diamondbacks are solid. The Mets seem to be getting better, the Phillies still have Bryce Harper. The National League is pretty stacked.”
Did you notice a missing team? Guess Stammen doesn’t believe Las Vegas, which has the Reds favored to win the NL Central.
And it isn’t that Stammen has a dislike for the Reds. He grew up rooting for them and attended games in Cincinnati and said he would like to finish his career in a Reds uniform.
Stammen, though, is strictly provincial about who he believes is the best player in the National League. It is his teammate, Fernando Tatis Jr.
“He does some things that I only dreamed of doing when I was a kid,” said Stammen. “He is only 22 years old, but he has a flair for the dramatic in the moment when you need it. He did that in the playoffs last year. He plays a premium position at shortstop and bats third in the lineup. He is an absolute stud. He changes the game on so many levels.”
QUOTE: From San Diego pitcher Craig Stammen: “I sort of got to like the designated hitter last season, but I’d also like to hit a home run before my career is over.”
—From my good friend Tom Melzoni: “Water is the most essential element of life, because without water you can’t make coffee. (Five cups a day, minimum.)