By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave prior to getting my Pfizer booster and hoping I’ll be able to type over the next few days.
—When Pedro Borbon pitched out of The Big Red Machine’s bullpen, opposing hitters could just as well leave their bats in the rack. They weren’t going to hit him.
Borbon owned what they call a rubber arm. Manager Sparky Anderson could use him two or three days in a row for multiple innings. Borbon never put ice on that valuable arm and avoided the training room as if Larry Starr, the best trainer in baseball, would amputate that arm.
Borbon also had a rubber head. In his native Dominican Republic they called him El Loco.
When the 17-year locusts arrived, he bit off their heads at $5 a head. His teeth were so sharp equipment manager Bernie Stowe would re-string players’ gloves, then take the extra rawhide hanging from the glove for Borbon to bite off. It is legendary what he did after the 1973 playoff melee between the Reds and the New York Mets torched by Pete Rose’s hard slide into Bud Harrelson. After the teams scuffled, hats were strewn all over Shea Stadium’s grass. Borbon picked up a hat and put it on his head. When he realized the hat was blue and belonged to New York’s Cleon Jones, he yanked it off his head and bit a large chunk out of the bill.
And there was the time the team departed on a 10-day trip. Borbon had a dog, so he left a large bag of open dog food and a tub of water. When he returned, there was enough fertilizer in the apartment to grow two acres of corn in Iowa.
One year during winter ball in the Dominican, Borbon pitched for the Licey Tigres. During one game a fan was on him mercilessly. Borbon was removed from the game and departed for the clubhouse. He quickly returned, brandishing a pearl-handled revolver. He chased the heckler out of the park and fortunately no shots were fired.
When the Reds traded him in June of 1979, Borbon, a Voodoo practitioner, put a hex on the Reds and said, “They’ll never win another World Series.” The Reds won the division in ’79, but lost the playoffs.
When they made the playoffs in 1990, Borbon said, “I’m lifting the hex, for one year only.” And the Reds won the World Series. They haven’t even made the World Series since and Borbon took the hex to his gave in 2012.
—QUOTE: From former major league player and manager Bobby Valentine, who played with Pedro Borbon in winter ball: “Pedro was as crazy as anyone I ever met,.”
—From Bobby Valentine’s book, ‘Valentine’s Way,’ talking about Tommy Lasorda: “Tommy Lasorda only had an eleventh-grade education, but he could speak four languages — English, Italian, Spanish and the language he spoke to umpires.”
—Can you imagine former Cincinnati Reds broadcaster Joe Nuxhall trying to pronounce this name: Juniel Querecuto. He had trouble pronouncing Lee May.
It is pronounced Yoo-knee-e-l Care-uh-koo-toh. The Ol’ Lefthander probably would call him Yoo Care and be done with it.
So, who is he? With baseball unable to shop for free agents at Von Maur during the lockout, the Reds continue to shop at baseball’s Dollar General.
He is an infielder and the latest among many players the Reds have signed to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training with the Major League club.
They’ll need a whole bunch of new folding chairs for the clubhouse. . .if spring training ever starts.
—How many people tell you they were in Riverfront Stadium for The Freezer Bowl in 1982? It is like what Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tom Browning says about the night he pitched a perfect game.
“If everybody who has told me they were there in person really were there, attendance would have been 350,000.” Announced attendance was 16,591, but less than 5,000 witnessed the full game because it didn’t start until 10 p.m. due to rain and didn’t finish until midnight.
The Freezer Bowl was the AFC championship game in Riverfront between the Cincinnati Bengals and the San Diego Chargers.
Announced attendance was 46,302. But 430,000 have said they were there, “Sitting in that minus-73 temperature and my coffee froze over as I left the concession stand.”
Actually, the wind chill factor was placed at minus-37, still cold enough to freeze an Eskimo’s blood. The Bengals won, 27-7. And I know everybody who said they were there weren’t there because they had both ears and all their fingers.
—What folks don’t remember is that two weeks later the Bengals played in the Super Bowl in a blizzard. Fortunately, though, the blizzard was outside because the game was played indoors at the Pontiac Silverdome. The blizzard didn’t affect the game, but it wreaked havoc on folks trying to get to the game in cars and charter buses. Our bus slid on ice and rear-ended a car and we missed the first 10 minutes of the game.
The Bengals lost to San Francisco, 26-21.
The Freeze Bowl was colder than Antarctica and lineman Dave Lapham, now a Bengals radio broadcaster, said it was the coldest he has ever been in his life. Nevertheless, he convinced his fellow linemen to play bare-armed — no sleeves, no sweat shirts under the jerseys, no brains.
“The Chargers were from the West Coast, so I thought, ‘Let’s use the cold to our advantage and psych them out a little bit,’” said Lapham. “San Diego players were all bundled up with stocking caps under their facemasks and hoodies and hand warmers.”
—Did Kent State football coach Sean Lewis burn down athletic director Randale Richwood’s house, or what? He had to anger his AD in some way.
Why else would Richwood schedule Kent State to open the 2022 season at Washington, at Oklahoma and at Georgia? For sure, Richwood might be calling the fire department after those first three games.
Those three appearance checks will be huge for the Golden Flashes and will go a long way toward paying hospital bills.
—QUOTE: From Chumbawamba’s song, Tub Thumping: “I get knocked down, but I get up again, you are never gonna keep me down.” (Check back with us after Kent State’s game at Georgia.)
—Some folks are fickle, fickle, fickle. And we don ’t mean University of Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell.
Not long ago, the world wanted University of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh run out of Ann Arbor on the last train to Clarksville and nobody would meet him at the station.
Now there are seven NFL coaching spots open and Harbaugh’s name is attached to most of them.
What were the Miami Dolphins thinking? Coach Brian Flores won eight of his last nine games and was kicked out the back door. And he did it with inexperienced quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Maybe he couldn’t spell or pronounce Tua’s last name?
—Some people have more money than they deserve. A bettor at BetMGM wagered $50,000 that the Cincinnati Bengals will win the Super Bowl. If there is a parting of the Red Sea again and the Bengals win, he cashes in for $1 million.
Hey, man, I could use that 50 grand to remodel the dingy Man Cave.