By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, which my beautiful wife, Nadine, won’t inhabit because of the cigar smoke and the sports on the TV. And on this, her birthday, I’m lighting up a special cigar. . .but she won’t join me.
—When Luis Quinones played for the Cincinnati Reds, he was a prankster. One of his favorites was to walk up to a stranger, point to the floor and say, “Sir, you dropped something.”
One day during spring training a writer from Chicago was in the clubhouse. Quinones pointed under a table and said, “Sir, you dropped something.”
Before it was over the poor guy was on his hands and knees under the table looking for whatever it was he dropped.
So, on her birthday, it is time to tell this tale on Nadine. She was on a trip with me and I warned her not to fall for Quinones’ gag. We ran into him in the hotel lobby and I introduced them.
We later all got into an elevator together. When it stopped at our floor Nadine and I got off. Before the door closed, a voice from inside the elevator said, “M’am, you dropped something.”
Nadine went back into the elevator to search. She never listens to me.
—These two numbers are associated with Joe DiMaggio. . .361 and 369. What are they? Well, Joltin’ Joe hit 361 home runs during his 13-year career and struck out 369 times. Unbelievable. He struck out just eight more times than he hit home runs.
Even more incredible, DiMaggio did not make the Hall of Fame until his third year on the ballot. What were those voters thinking. . .or not thinking.
—QUOTE: From Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio: “Now I’ve had everything except for the thrill of watching Babe Ruth play.” (The Bambino, though, did get to watch Mr. Coffee play and said, “I’ve had heroes in my life — Joe DiMaggio”.)
—And speaking of Babe Ruth, he hit more home runs by himself in 1920 (54) than the combined total of every other major league team but one. The Philadelphia Phillies hit 64.
—QUOTE: From Babe Ruth: “Every strike gets me one pitch closer to a home run.” (In today’s game, every strike gets the hitters one pitch closer to a strikeout.”)
—In 1972, Silent Steve Carlton (he didn’t converse with writers) won 27 games and his Philadelphia Phillies only won 32 other games.
Carlton won four Cy Youngs and in 1980 he received every first place vote but one (blush). Yeah, me. I voted for Jerry Reuss of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was 18-6 with a 2.51 ERA and 10 complete games. He beat the Cincinnati Reds that year about a half dozen times (it seemed).
Carlton was 23-11 with a .2.34 ERA and 13 complete games. What was I thinking? Hey, at least I voted Carlton second.
—So if you beat the University of Dayton in basketball you get fired in mid-season? It happened last week to Fordham’s Jeff Neubauer. His Rams pulled a big upset by beating the Flyers at home.
The problem is that it was Fordham’s only victory. The Rams were 1-and-7 when Neubauer was told to take his whistle and go home.
—QUOTE: From former infielder/manager/broadcaster Jerry Coleman: “You never ask why you’ve been fired because if you do, they’re liable to tell you.” (If you have to ask, you probably should have been fired.)
—What is it about Houston that athletes don’t like? High insurance rates? The eight per cent sale tax? Oil refinery fumes?
First, James Harden of the Houston Rockets demands a trade and gets shipped to Brooklyn. Now Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans wants out. Who’s next, Jose Altuve of the Bang the Drum Slowly Houston Astros?
And there is a rumor floating in the stratosphere that the Cleveland Browns would trade Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr. and two first-round draft picks for Watson.
Say what? Why don’t the Browns just include the Rock & Roll Museum and the Cleveland Clinic while they are at it?
—After watching them both closely, I pick Baylor over Gonzaga as the No. 1 college basketball team. They were supposed to play each other early this season but COVID-19 stopped it.
Having said that, it is unlikely either one would go undefeated in The Big Ten, the best college basketball league out there right now.
And when did anybody ever believe that Rutgers would beat Michigan State, 67-37. The Scarlet Knights outscored Sparty in the second half, 41-17. To show how difficult it is in the Big Ten, Michigan State beat Rutgers earlier this season.
—Speaking of the Big Ten’s toughness, consider former UD coach Archie Miller at Indiana. His team knocks of Iowa, a Top Ten team, on the road. Then it returns home to Assembly Hall and loses to Rutgers.
Since taking the IU job, Miller is 2-and-9 in games immediately after his team beat an AP Top 25 team.
—Wright State University says it with love, Loudon Love. With Love leading the way, WSU is first in the nation in rebounding, 43-plus per game and first in defensive rebounding, 31-plus per game.
Defense, of course, goes hand-in-hand with rebounding. If a team forces the opposition into bad shots, missed shots, there are more rebounds to be had.
—QUOTE: From Wright State coach Scott Nagy: “I know if we win the rebounding margin by 20, we’re going to win the game for sure. Almost always, if you win by 10, you’re going to win the game.”
—Talk about class, you can put the University of Dayton’s Jordy Tshimanga in the front row. The first time he saw me, on a ramp under UD Arena, he had no idea who I was. But he stopped, stuck out his hand and said, “Hi, how are you, sir?”
Then, this week he did a Zoom media conference. After all the questions were asked and answered, Tshimanga said, “Now, can I ask all of you a question?”
Sure, Jordy. Shoot.
“How are all of you doing today?” Now that’s a first. . .an athlete asking writers and broadcasters how they are doing. Class.
—Baseball scouts are my favorite people. Before games in Great American Ball Park they gather in a pack near my seat in the press box and tell lies and tall tales.
There was a scout and former major league pitcher named Pat Dobson. He was married five or six times. He got married again during the off-season and that spring a scout asked scout and former major league infielder Jim Fregosi if he attended The Dobber’s wedding.
“Nah,” said Fregosi. “I missed it. I’ll catch the next one.”
—QUOTE: From Hall of Fame writer Jim Murray: “You have heard of the double play combination of Tinkers to Evers to Chance. Well, the California Angels have Fregosi to Aspromonte to Avalon Boulevard.”
—Who can live without a dog? Not me. In fact, I need at least two. These are the best friends I’ve ever had: Whitey, Corky, Pal, Mugs. Roxie, Brandy, Barkley, Cooper, Paige, Quinn.