By HAL McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, waiting to pull hard for Dusty Baker to win his first World Series, even though it is difficult for me to root against Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman and Adam Duvall.
—Valparaiso University’s Brown Field owns a unique distinction. And it isn’t a good one. There isn’t a toilet to be found in the confines of the stadium, not even in the press box.
Patrons need to leave the stadium, cross a paved parking lot and enter the basketball arena for relief.
It was quite disconcerting at halftime to enter the men’s room and see four uniform-clad Valpo players lined up at a urinal.
And getting to Valparaiso, Ind., by bus was quite the jaunt for the University of Dayton football team. They started up I-75 to Wapakoneta, than meandered northwest via U.S. 33 to Ohio 127 to Ohio 118 to Ohio 81 to I-465 near Fort Wayne, Ind., to U.S. 30.
And then there were as many twists and turns (not counting trips to the bathroom) during the game, one lost by the Flyers, 45-28.
—QUOTE: From comedian Bob Hope: “I grew up with six brothers. That’s how I learned to dance – waiting for the bathroom” (The bathroom in the Valparaiso basketball arena resembled a dance hall.)
—As if he hadn’t already shown signs of it, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow became ‘The Man’ Sunday in the NFL’s AFC North.
With the Baltimore Ravens concentrating on stopping running back Joe Mixon, Burrow hit on 22 of 31 passes for 405 yards and three touchdowns as the Bengals submerged the Ravens, 41-17.
As Edgar Allen Poe penned it, “Quoth the raven, nevermore.” And Burrow was never more efficient than he was Sunday against the Ravens.
—Umpire Laz Diaz is the leader in the clubhouse for the Angel Hernandez Trophy. ESPNstatsinfo said Diaz missed 21 balls and strikes calls in Game 4 of the ALDS, most so far in any postseason game.
And one was a beauty. With two outs in the ninth inning and a 1-and-2 count on Houston’s Jason Castro, scored tied, 2-2, Diaz called ball two.
It was apparent, though, it was strike three, thrown by Boston’s Nathan Eovaldi. Inning over. Instead, Castro singled, igniting a seven-run Houston rally and a 9-2 win.
So Houston had the Laz laugh and Angel Hernandez himself couldn’t have mucked it up much worse.
—QUOTE: From Hall of Fame infielder Johnny Evers of the famous double play combination of Tinkers to Evers to Chance: “My favorite umpire is a dead one.” (That’s a bit harsh, but the citizens of Boston probably agree right now.)
—Dennis Singleton pointed out that this season’s Cincinnati Reds used 35 pitchers (some were alleged pitchers) and 55 total players. The 1975 Big Red Machine used 12 pitchers and 29 players. And Dennis asked, “Any thoughts?”
Yes, I do have thoughts. Most of the ’75 Reds were paid something like $25,000 and feared they might lose their jobs if they missed time. It took a broken leg like Dave Concepcion once suffered to keep them out of the lineup.
This year’s Reds, making millions and millions, took a break at the first signs of dandruff.
But the big reason? The ’75 Reds’ roster was stuffed with talent and didn’t need a steady parade of players. The ’21 Reds seemed to conduct a season-long tryout camp, especially on the pitching staff.
—When the Houston Astros beat the Boston Red Sox in Game 4 of the ALCS, it was Astros manager Dusty Baker’s 2,203rd victory as a manager. Unbelievably, Baker had 2,203 hits as a major league outfielder.
But the Cincinnati Reds wouldn’t keep him as a manager. But neither could the Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants. And Baker took all five teams he has managed to the playoffs.
Now Baker is in the World Series, poised to win his first one, and he got there without a single member of the Astros doing any tub-thumping.
—QUOTE: From Houston manager Dusty Baker, who has been fired four times: “I’m a strong man and usually I get over hurts and it makes me stronger when I come back.” (And this time he may come back stronger and win a World Series. He deserves it.)
—Loved what Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers said to a female fan near the end zone after he ran for a game-clinching touchdown against the Chicago Bears.
A female fan gave him the double bird and he said, “I’ve owned you all my (expletive) life. I still own you. I still own you.” (Rodgers is a free agent after the season and the Packers probably no longer will own him. And wouldn’t he look fabulous in a Cleveland Browns uniform?)
—A quote from the new book, ‘Lords of Smashmouth,’ by John Baskin, the best book on Ohio State football I’ve ever read, and I’ve read more than a few.
Former Ohio State coach Woody Hayes was a devout military historian and Baskin penned, “To Woody Hayes, Ann Arbor was Appomattox.” The problem was that Michigan never surrendered without a fight in The Big House.
Also from Baskin’s book: In the 1969 Rose Bowl, Southern California’s O.J. Simpson snaked his way 80 yards for a touchdown, by far the longest run of the season against Ohio State.
Coach Woody Hayes turned and grabbed assistant coach Lou Holtz by the throat and screamed, “Why did O.J. go 80 yards?” Said Holtz, gasping for air, “Because that’s all he needed, coach.”
—One man’s reaction to last week’s big upset: “Purdue beat the No. 2 out of Iowa.”
—Prediction corner (from a good source): “Within the next five years, the college football playoffs will have 12 teams.” (They’ll still find a way to ignore teams like the University of Cincinnati, Central Florida and TCU.)
—Does anybody out there know what a kracken is? The newest NHL expansion team is the Seattle Kracken. Did some deep research (“Hey, Google. . .”) and discovered that a kracken is a mythical sea creature. Well, at least they aren’t the Seattle Mermaids.)