By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, wishing the Super Bowl would get here so I won’t have to listen to the ESPN ‘experts’
ineloquently jabber about everything but what color jock straps Aaron Donald and Von Miller will wear.
—Are you ready for your head to spin unevenly like a $3 top?
Did you know that Sunday’s Super Bowl could have been Cincinnati against Cleveland. . .and it wouldn’t be the Browns? It would be the Cleveland Rams.
Originally, the Los Angeles Rams were the Cleveland Rams in the NFL. The Cleveland Rams moved to Los Angeles in 1946. Then, Los Angeles moved to St. Louis in 1994 and back to Los Angeles in 2016. The Rams real nickname should be the Vagabonds.
When the Rams vacated Cleveland, it enabled Paul Brown to construct his Cleveland Browns franchise in the rival All-America Conference.
When the AAC folded, the Browns, San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Colts were absorbed into the NFL. The Los Angeles Dons were absorbed by the 49ers.
The Baltimore Colts? Whew. They began in the AAC as the Dallas Texans, then were the Boston Yanks, then were the New Yankees and finally the
Baltimore Colts. And the Colts absorbed the AAC’s Miami Seahawks when that franchised folded.
Got all that? There is, of course, more. The Colts moved to Indianapolis and traitor Art Modell moved the Browns to Baltimore, where the Browns became the Ravens.
The NFL gave Cleveland an expansion franchise and permitted them to steal the ‘Browns’ nickname and brown and orange colors. . . but those aren’t your grandpa’s Browns and certainly not Paul Brown’s Browns.
All this adds new meaning to the question, “Who Dey?” There will be a quiz on all this after the Bengals win the Super Bowl, 34-21.
—With the passing of Kentucky’s Joe B. Hall, the University of Dayton’s Don Donoher became the oldest living coach to take a team to the final game of an NCAA tournament.
Donoher, who just turned 90, didn’t know that until journalist Mike Lopresti told him. Said Donoher, “I am? How do they keep finding this stuff?”
The Flyers reached the NCAA finals by beat North Carolina in the semifinals by 14 points, a night during which Don May hit 13 straight field goals.
The next night the assignment was UCLA. . .coach John Wooden and Lew Alcindor. UCLA won, 79-64.
“That was a night of celebration,” said Donoher after the Flyers beat North Carolina and rookie coach Dean Smith. “We celebrated too much. We should have worried about the next night.”
—Ask me who I would pick to pitch for me if my life was on the line. Glad you asked. Bob Gibson, please save my life and pitch the way you did in 1968.
That was the year Gibson’s earned run average was 1.12. He threw 13 shutouts, more shutouts in one year than Max Scherzer has complete games (12) for his entire 14-year career.
Gibson pitched seven innings in his first two starts, then eight or more innings for the rest of the season (35 starts). And he pitched into five extra-inning games.
So if Gibson is on the hill, I won’t need that blindfold and cigarette.
—QUOTE: From Hall of Fame umpire Doug Harvey, talking about Barry Bonds standing at home plate admiring his home runs: “If he hit a home run off Bob Gibson and stood to admire it, Gibson would knock that earring out of his ear the next time up.”
—With nothing better to do during these baseball lockout days, other than sit at their desks and hum, ‘Da-da-dum, da-da-dum,’ ESPN writers and editors came up with an arbitrary list of the Top 100 players of all time.
As I read it, I thought of Arte Johnson’s helmet-wearing German solider character on ‘Laugh-In’ who always said, “Very interesting.” And then he added something stupid.
When I saw Roberto Clemente listed as No. 27, I thought more about Chevy Chase taking pratfalls on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ Clemente, No. 27, are you kidding me?
The Top Five are the usual suspects, and no argument there — Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, Ty Cobb, Ted Williams.
Only one current players made the Top 50, Mike Trout. Not one player from The Big Red Machine made the Top 25. Johnny Bench was 29th, Pete Rose 34th and Joe Morgan 37th. Dayton native Mike Schmidt was 18th, Ken Griffey Jr. was 15th and Frank Robinson was 19th.
Two PED suspects made the top 17 — Roger Clemens 17th and Barry Bonds eighth.
Hey, any list that ranks Bob Gibson as only the 33rd best pitcher of all time is about as valuable as my wife’s grocery list.
—Scott Russell, Bill Lee’s best chronicler, reminded me of a little-known fact and a fabulous trivia question.
Every baseball fan worth a Sibby Sisti bubblegum card knows about the famous catch by Willie Mays in the 1954 World Series. Cleveland’s Vic Wertz hit a 460-foot cannon barrage to straight away center in the Polo Grounds and Mays made a back-to-the-infield over-the-shoulder catch.
Who was the pitcher? It was Don Liddle and Wertz was the only batter he faced in that game. After Mays made the catch, Liddle said, “I got my man.”
Yes, he got his man. . .and made Vic Wertz famous for hitting the loudest and longest out in World Series history.
—QUOTE: From a New York sports writer on the 460-foot ‘fly ball’ Willie Mays caught off Vic Wertz: “It would have been a home run in any other park, including Yellowstone.” (How about Gates of the Arctic National Park?)
—Both Super Bowl quarterbacks, Joe Burrow and Matthew Stafford wear uniform No. 9, as in Love Potion No. 9.
Some famous No. 9s:
BASEBALL: Ted Williams, Roger Maris, Reggie Jackson, Ralph Kiner, Minnie Minoso, Enos Slaughter.
BASKETBALL: Tony Parker, Dwayne Wade, Bob Pettit (Ask your grandpa who the St. Louis Hawks were), Michael Jordan. . .he wore No. 9 for the U.S. Olympic team.
HOCKEY: Three of the most famous pucksters of all-time. . .Maurice Richard, Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull.
FOOTBALL: Sonny Jurgensen, Drew Brees.
NASCAR: Bill Elliott, Chase Elliott.