By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, revving it up for March Madness, the best time of year for folks who know nothing about college basketball but can’t wait to fill out brackets (like me).
—When Pete Rose speaks, people listen. In the past, he didn’t always speak the truth, but people listened.
And he was clearly speaking the truth on a recent radio interview when he said, “I’ll probably make the Hall of Fame, but I’ll be dead.”
That may be true, but Shoeless Joe Jackson has been dead for more than 70 years. Like Rose, he was declared permanently ineligible to participate in organized baseball, and he still isn’t in.
Rose also said a steroid user most likely will make the Hall of Fame before he does. In fact, Rose believes Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez should be in.
“Roger Clemens has got to be in the Hall of Fame,” said Rose. “The guy won seven Cy Youngs. Alex Rodriguez has got to be in the Hall of Fame. The guy had over 2,000 RBIs, 2,000 runs scored and 695 home runs. Those two guys, if you don’t have them in then you shouldn’t have those guys in it.”
There are those who say the say thing about Rose. . .but, of course, there are extenuating circumstances.
—QUOTE: From The Hit King, Pete Rose “If I had been busted for drugs instead of gambling, I’d still be managing the Cincinnati Reds and MLB would be paying for my rehab.”
—Speaking of the Hall of Fame, Albert Pujols is pushing hard for St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.
Some people say Molina’s numbers aren’t Hall-worthy, but Pujols says they are full of Budweiser beer.
“That’s a joke. Are you kidding me?” said Molina. “He is the greatest catcher of his time. It is not even close. Defensively, he might be the greatest of all time.”
Now you’ve stepped in it, Pujols. Greatest defensive catcher of all time? Have you ever heard of Johnny Bench?
—QUOTE: From Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench: “I can throw out any man alive.”
—One of baseball’s oldest sayings is, “You can’t steal first base.” If you could, Billy Hamilton would have been a superstar.
Unfortunately, Hamilton couldn’t get to first base often enough to utiliize his hurricane-force speed.
Oh, if he could only bunt. But he couldn’t. Instead of squaring up, he tried to bunt on the run and usually fouled it off or popped it up.
Since leaving the Cincinnati Reds, Hamilton has been passed off by Kansas City, Atlanta, San Francisco, the New York Mets, the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland — each hoping he could find his way to first base without a GPS and a Sherpa,
Hamilton began this spring with Cleveland but was told he won’t make the team. Many Reds fans want him back. He was popular in Cincinnati, an easy guy to like.
But there is no place for him in Cincinnati. Thomas Wolfe said, “You can’t go home again.” Home? Billyball couldn’t get to first base.
—QUOTE: From Slidin’ Billy Hamilton, an earlier base-stealing Billy Hamilton who played in the late 1800s: “I’ll have you know, sir, that I was and will be the greatest stealer of all time. I did steal over 100 bases on many years and if they ever re-count the record I will get my just reward.” (It didn’t happen and Rickey Henderson is the greatest stealer of all time.)
—Was Sandy Koufax the all-time best lefthanded pitcher? Or maybe the all-time best with either hand?
In 1966, the Los Angeles Dodgers southpaw pitched all season with an arthritic elbow. He won 27 games, he completed 27 game, he struck ouf 317 and he acquired a 1.73 earned run average.
Then he retired.
After he retired, he was on the golf course when somebody suggested he would do better if he would straighten his left arm. Said Koufax, “If I could straighten it out, I’d be pitching at Dodger Stadium tonight.”
—Reports that Dayton’s Sinclair Community College is giving up all sports is disturbing. The Tartan Pride owns an illustrious history in junior college Division II athletics.
Basketball coach Jeff Price and baseball coach Steve Dintaman both are talented coaches with respected and successful programs. And both deserve better.
—Ever wonder how the slogan, “March Madness” came about. My friend and fellow journalist Mike Downey clued me in.
“March Madness” was first used by high school basketball in Illinois, Broadcaster Brent Musburger picked it up and used it on CBS.
Nobody, though, thought to put a copyright on it. So a wise Chicago businessman named Charles Besser acquired the trademark in 1989.
How wise was he? It cost the NCAA $17.5 million to acquire the trademark from him.
—QUOTE: From James Naismith, who invented basketball to fill the time between football season and baseball season: “The invention of basketball was not an accident. It was developed to meet a need. Those boys simply would not play ‘Drop the Handkerchief.’” (No, drop the hankie is a sport played by NFL officials.)
—A bettor at a Valley Forge, Pa. casino wagered $604 on a multi-sport 15-team parlay — meaning he bet on college basketball, the NBA and the NHL. He got all 15 right and collected $998,500.
Obviously, he had a better night at Valley Forge than did George Washington.