By HAL McCOY
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, Siesta Key edition, as I sit under a beach umbrella on the sugary beach.
—Ed Smith Stadium, spring training home for the Cincinnati Reds from 1997 to 2009, is looking strong and sturdy.
The ol’ boy had a $50 million face lift after the Reds departed. . .sadly for me and for thousands of Ohioans who flocked to Florida for spring training.
The Reds moved to Goodyear, Ariz., a distance too far for many Reds fans. Nadine loved to spend a week with me during my six-week stay on Siesta Key because she loved sunning on the beach staring at the Gulf of Mexico and the diving dolphins.
She would go to Goodyear because, she said, “There is no beach.” And I told her, “Honey, it is all beach, just no water.”
Anyway, the Reds’ departure was so unnecessary. Ed Smith, was falling down and the toilets were overflowing. The Reds wanted that $50 million fixer-upper. Sarasota County politicians said no. So the Reds departed.
Realizing what they had lost from the deep pockets of Reds fans, the politicians reversed course and gave Ed Smith new life and did more than put a coat of pain on him.
And the Baltimore Orioles delightfully moved in.
—QUOTE: From singer/songwriter Steve Earle: “I love baseball. I’ll probably end up one of those old farts who go to spring training in Florida every year and drive from game to game all day.” (And is there anything better to do in Florida. . .golfing and fishing don’t count.)
—Roberto Clemente was the best all-around player I ever saw, with Eric Davis a close second, despite a career often interrupted by injuries and colon cancer.
Clemente was an extremely proud man, very protective of his abilities and his Puerto Rican heritage.
The producers of the television show The Odd Couple once offered him $100 for a bit part, a part in which he would be shown hitting into a triple play. He turned it down and said, “I’d never hit into a triple play.”
—QUOTE: From Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente: “I am convinced that God wanted me to be a baseball player. Pitch me outside, I will hit .400. Pitch me inside and you will not find the ball.” (And no better baseball player was ever created. . .well, put Willie Mays and Hank Aaron in that category, too.)
—In the 1934 World Series, Dizzy Dean and his brother, Paul, led the St. Louis Cardinals’ Gashouse Gang to a World Series victory over the Detroit Tigers.
The Dean Brothers then put together a Major League All-Star team to barnstorm against the Negro League champions, the Pittsburgh Crawfords, for several games. The Crawfords won every game.
One of the Crawfords stars was legendary Oscar Charleston, the ‘Babe Ruth’ of the Negro League.
Said Ol’ Diz, “The guy who could have made it in the majors was Oscar Charleston. He could hit the ball a mile. He didn’t have a weakness. When he came up we just hoped he wouldn’t get a hold of one. We just threw it and hoped like hell.”
—Why was it that so many Negro League teams liked to use the nickname ‘Giants?’ There were 13 that I could find. . .and at one time or another Satchel Paige pitched for nearly all of them.
They were: Atlantic City Bacharach Giants, Baltimore Elite Giants, Bronx Giants, Brooklyn Royal Giants, Chicago American Giants, Cuban Giants, Harrisburg Giants, Nashville Elite Giants, New York Lincoln Giants, Philadelphia Giants, Pittsburgh Crawford Giants, St. Louis Giants, Washington Elite Giants.
—QUOTE: From Hall of Fame Negro Leagues star Cool Papa Bell “I remember one game I got five hits and stole five bases, but none of it was written down because they didn’t bring the scorebook to the game that day.” (But Cool Papa clearly brought his bat.)
—This era of the three-point basketball can be mind-blowing. Is it possible to blow a 24-point lead with 6 1/2 minutes left in the game?
It certainly is. Don’t ask the Wright State basketball team? They don’t want to hear about. . .ever again. The Raiders were leading Milwaukee, 72-48, with 6:26 left. And they lost. They lost, 94-92, in overtime, losing their first game in the Horizon League tournament on their home Nutter Center floor.
Talk about getting floored.
How is that possible? Guess you had to be there and the Raiders wish they hadn’t been. Milwaukee scored 33 points in the lastr 6:26 of regulation to nine for WSU.
—After playing in one of the best college basketball games in a long time, a loss to the University of Michigan, Ohio State tossed in a couple of clunkers, losing to Michigan State and Iowa.
The hope for Buckeye backers is that OSU didn’t peak too soon after an outstanding season. Amends can be made during the Big Ten tournament after those two defeats dropped the Buckeyes from a No. 1 NCAA seed to a No. 2 and maybe a No. 3.
—QUOTE: From University of Kentucky coach John Calipari: “A successful person never loses. They either win or learn.” (For sure, Calipari’s learning curve is at am all-time high this year.)
—Was watching ESPN when they flashed some European soccer scores and I thought up some nicknames for some of them:
Dijon Mustards, Seville Barbers, Cologne Perfumes, Atlas Sand Kickers, Liverpool Beatles, Lokomotiv Engines, Arsenal Cannons.