By HAL McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, bleary-eyed from trying to keep up with the baseball playoffs while channel-surfing to watch footballs fly.
—As I stood in a Kroger produce aisle fondling a head of lettuce, a man asked, “Who ya got?”
As I sat in a lawn chair atop my driveway while Nadine walked four miles around the neighborhood, a guy stopped his car at the end of the driveway, rolled down his window and asked, “Who ya got?”
—As I stood at the Dayton Agonis Club buffet table, splashing gravy on my mashed potatoes and my shirt, a fellow member asked, “Who ya got?”
Because I am a baseball writer, I assume they were asking ‘who I got’ in the post-season playoffs. Well, it’s not the Cincinnati Reds. Their uniforms are packed away for another day.
I am a patron and admire of Dusty Baker, but he manages the trashcan-beating Houston Ass-tros, the team that cheated with illegal sign stealing to win the 2017 World Series.
I am familiar with four of the San Francisco Giants pitching rotation — Johnny Cueto, Kevin Gausman, Anthony DeSclafani and Alex Wood, all pitchers discarded by the Reds. So there is that.
It is hard for me to root for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but I admire that they won 106 games, went 40-12 in their last 52 games and still had to play a wild card one-game playoff. And they won it.
Former Reds outfielder Adam Duvall plays for the Atlanta Braves. . .after the Reds gave up on him, after the Braves gave up on him, after the Miami Marlins gave up on him and the Braves took him back. It is easy to pull for a guy like that who is also a super person.
How can you root against a franchise like Tampa Ba? It’s an organization that always has one of the lowest payrolls but figures out ways to win. And it plays in a dump that fans avoid as if the place is condemned — which is should be.
Tampa Bay, though, is gone, done in by the Boston Red Sox and manager Alex Cora, the guy who managed the cheating Ass-tros. So, phew on the Bosox.
OK, twist my arms and I’ll narrow it down to two. . .San Francisco and Houston, but only because of Dusty Baker.
—Let’s talk about the number 17, good and bad.
GOOD: During Sunday’s ALDS game, Tampa Bay’s Austin Meadows perpetrated a 17-pitch at bat against Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez. Meadows fouled the first three pitches, then fouled 10 straight when the count was 3-and-2. Then he struck out.
Amazing? Yes, it was. The most amazing thing to me was that Rodriguez threw 11 straight strikes on the 3-and-2 count.
BAD: A high school soccer team in Michigan, Benzie Central, defeated Kingsley, 17-0. It was bad enough that Kingsley, 0-and-15, was defenseless.
What is reprehensible is that Benzie Central coach Chris Batchelder permitted a kid named Kevin Hubbell to score 16 goals, a national high school record.
The game was called at halftime, the mercy rule, after Batchelder showed no mercy. Permitting one player to score 16 goals shows that Batchelder doesn’t comprehend the word ‘sportsmanship.’
—QUOTE: From World Cup soccer star Ronaldo: “Maybe they hate me because I’m too good.” (Wonder what the prep soccer world is saying about Kevin Hubbard?)
—Remember when Wright State University’s extremely talented basketball team lost to Milwaukee in last season’s Horizon League tournament? How can anybody forget that unfathomable lost. The Raiders led by 26 points with six minutes left. And lost.
Wright State’s effervescent and efficient athletic director, Bob Grant, said some guy in California figured that if WSU had run out the 35-second clock on every possession without taking a shot in the final six points, “We still would have won by eight.”
The guy is probably correct. With six minutes left, each team figures to have the ball six times, or 180 seconds. If WSU runs out the shot clock six times, that left Milwaukee with 180 seconds to score 27 points to win.
—QUOTE: From former NBA superstud Michael Jordan: “I’ve never lost a game. I just ran out of time.” (For WSU against Milwaukee, the Raiders needed time to run out much quicker than it did.)
—I wrote this a few days ago, before Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden resigned after some old e-mails surfaced that were misogynistic, racist and anti-gay.
The former University of Dayton back-up quarterback did a nice thing for UD’s football team this year.
He donated money so the Flyers could purchase new white helmets, which they are wearing on the road while still wearing their traditional red helmets at home.
Against Gruden’s wishes, UD’s equipment manager Tony Caruso placed a small Raiders logo and the initials ‘JG’ on the back of the helmets.
That was an awesome gesture, but it certainly puts the Flyers in a tough situation. Do they return the helmets? Do they remove the Raiders/JG decals. Do they ignore it all?
—QUOTE: From former Las Vegas coach/University of Dayton graduate Jon Gruden on Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson: “Did you ever see the movie ‘Castaway?’ Tom Hanks’ only friend was a soccer ball named Wilson. In this game, Russell Wilson’s only friend is a football.” (Wonder how many friends Gruden will have left, other than a Wilson football?)
—Speaking of former University of Dayton quarterbacks, I hate what Los Angeles Chargers coach Brandon Staley did to the Cleveland Browns.
But one has to admire and praise Staley for his bravery and boldness during his team’s 47-42 victory. Three times he gambled on fourth down and converted first down on all three. And one was fourth-and-five and another was fourth-and-seven.
Nice to see a guy who isn’t a cookie-cutter NFL coach, most of whom do everything pretty much the same way.
—Great to see a couple of heart-tugging college football stories like:
ONE: The University of Kentucky is 6-and-0 and ranked in the Top 10 for the first time since 1950 (that’s 71 years ago), when Bear Bryant was the coach. The ‘Cats, though, better double click their chin straps this week when they play at No. 1 Georgia.
TWO: The unbeaten University of Cincinnati is No. 3 in the polls with quality wins at Indiana and at Notre Dame. The AP poll and the coaches poll mean nothing. If UC is still unbeaten on Nov. 2, let’s see where they are in the CFP rankings, the only one that counts toward making the national championship playoffs.
—QUOTE: From UC Coach Luke Fickell after his team’s win at Notre Dame: “We’re in the right direction. For us, it’s still about winning championships. (Quarterback) Desmond Ridder got in front of the team afterwards and said, ‘It’s another step in our chances to win a championship,’ and nothing besides that. They’re a mature group. We may have to fend off people talking about the playoff, and that’s a great thing.”
—Classified ads in the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Green Bay Press-Gazette: “Wanted: Man who not only can kick a football a long way, but can get it straight.”