By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, watching a crew tear up my front yard with a back hoe to fix a darkened street light. Couldn’t they just replace the bulb?
—When you snap on your Smart TV Sunday to watch Super Bowl Roman Numerals, there will be a nasal-toned voice dripping orange and black.
The color analyst on NBC is Chris Collinsworth, and if he isn’t Mister Cincinnati Bengal, he is a blood relative. Collinsworth spent his entire career as a pass-snatcher for the Bengals.
He played in the only two Super Bowls the Bengals attended as participants and lost both to the San Francisco Montanas.
National broadcasters are supposed to be impartial, show no loyalties. So how will Collinsworth stifle his inner stripes?
“I’m excited. I’m human. I can’t help myself,” he said on a media conference call. “As happy as I am for the Bengals, I am happier for the town of Cincinnati. It really has galvanized this place.”
And Collinsworth knows how everybody in BengalsLand will feel if they lose to the Los Angeles Rams.
As he told Fort Worth Star-Telegram sports columnist Mac Engel three years ago when asked if he ever recovered from the two Super Bowl losses, “Never. I’m telling you. . .never. I don’t care what anyone says, you don’t get over it. Somewhere in the deep recesses of your brain, it’s there.”
So forgive him Sunday, if during the game, a couple of ‘Who Deys’ slip out.
—Only two major league players have done all of this: At least — 2,500 hits, 250 home runs, 450 doubles, 100 triples, 1,000 RBI, 300 stolen bases.
One is Willie Mays. Who is the other? Roberto Clemente? No. Frank Robinson? No. Stan Musial? No. Ted Williams? No. Mickey Mantle? No.
It is Vada Pinson. . .and why oh why oh why is he not in the Hall of Fame? And toss Al Oliver into the mix, too. And Dave Concepcion. And. . .oh, never mind, I could be like ABBA and go on and on and on.
—QUOTE: From Vada Pinson talking about Jackie Robinson: “Jackie told me a few stories about segregation and racism. He told me, ‘Rachel (Robinson’s wife) had to rub my legs because the trainers wouldn’t touch my black skin.’” (And why won’t the Hall of Fame touch Vada Pinson? And you can throw Al Oliver into the mix, too.)
—While we are in the ‘who isn’t’ in the Hall of Fame discussion, only six pitchers since 1905 have won 25 games and struck out 300 in one season.
Five are in the Hall of Fame — Sandy Koufax, Steve Carlton, Walter Johnson, Bob Feller and Rube Waddell. Who is missing?
That would be Detroit’s Mickey Lolich. In 1971, in the days of a four-man rotation, he made 45 starts and pitched an incredible 376 innings. He had 29 complete games and was 25-14.
But his full body of work was not ‘Hall’ caliber — 217-191 and in his last three seasons he was 36-52.
—QUOTE: From portly former Detroit pitcher Mickey Lolich, who pitched with what looked like a travel bag tucked under the front of his jersey: “All the fat guys watch me and say to their wives, ‘See, there’s a fat guy doing OK. Bring me another beer.’”
—Ever wonder where the confounded pitch count originated? Me, too.
In his book, ‘Valentine’s Way,’ Bobby Valentine claims he had a hand in it before the 1988 season when he managed the Texas Rangers.
He said he wanted to protect young pitchers in the minors, so he and Rangers’ adviser Paul Richards devised this plan: Starting pitchers no more than 135 pitches. Relief pitchers could pitch back-to-back games if they threw no more than 15 pitches. If they threw 16 to 30 pitches, they got a day off. If they threw 31 or more pitches they got two days off.
Is that Nolan Ryan and Mike Marshall snickering in the background?
Ryan once threw 235 pitches in one 1974 game for the Angels against the Red Sox. He pitched 13 innings, struck out 19, walked 10 and faced 58 batters.
Did it hurt him? Pshaw and balderdash. Three days later he pitched six shutout innings against the Yankees.
Marshall? In that same year, 1974, Marshall worked out of the Dodgers bullpen and appeared in 106 games. He pitched 208 1/3 innings. . .out of the bullpen. Most starters these days call themselves a stud if they pitch 200 innings.
Nowadays, a big issue is made of what they call a ‘quality start,’ at least six innings of giving up three or fewer runs.
“Quality start? In my day, if I had pitched only six innings and gave up three runs, I had a bad outing and I was hacked off,” he said. “And I can tell you that my manager and general manager weren’t happy, either. I was my own closer.”
—A tip of the fedora to Mike Woodson for his integrity. The Indiana University basketball coach sacrificed an easy victory at Northwestern by benching five players, including two starters.
“I’m building a culture here and I’m not here to mess around with guys who don’t want to do what’s asked of them,” Woodson said after a 59-51 loss at Northwestern. “And if they don’t, they gotta go.”
Woodson learned the hard way when he played at IU for Bobby Knight in 1978. Seven players were caught smoking marijuana at a tournament in Alaska. Knight kicked three players off the team and put four others, including Woodson, on probation,’’
QUOTE: From former Indiana coach Bobby Knight on sports writers: “All of us learn to write in the second grade. Most of us go on to greater things.”
During spring training one year, Knight spotted me and my wife sitting by a hotel swimming pool. He said to my wife, “Hal wouldn’t be such a bad guy if he took that damn typewriter and threw it into the pool.”
“He can’t do that, that’s how he makes his living,” said my wife.
“Well,” said Knight while walking away, “It’s a horse-sh – – way to make a living.”
—Talk about character, there are at least two NBA players who need lessons on how to show some character.
If you want traded, refuse to play and pout. That’s why Ben Simmons did. If you want traded, play at half-speed and don’t play hard. That’s what James Harden did.
So what happened, the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets traded one problem for another.
The 76ers traded Simmons to the Nets for Harden. And it’s the second time for Harden. He wanted out of Houston and pouted his way to Brooklyn.
If there are many like those two in the NBA, they change the league name to the National Baby Association.
—QUOTE: From NBA player James Harden: “If you have a dream, chase it no matter what it takes.” (Yep, chase it to Houston, then to Brooklyn, then to Philadelphia. Keep it up, James, and that dream will end up in Sheboygan.)
—QUOTE: From NBA player Ben Simmons: “I just like hanging out, I’m not too hard to please.” (Yep, if you don’t have to hang out in Philadelphia. Maybe you can hang out in Sheboygan with James Harden.)
—BOOKWORM CORNER: Troy resident Robert Brundrett is an engineer, an inventor, a product designer, a Navy veteran. . .and an author.
His novel, ‘Girl From The Racetrack,’ combines romance, horse racing and Vietnam and he weaves a enticing and enthralling tale.
And don’t forget the book, ‘Kentucky Basketball: Two Decades Behind the Scenes,’ by UK broadcasters Mike Pratt (a Dayton native and former All-American at Kentucky, And Tom Leach.
It is an insider’s look at UK basketball as they lived it and witnessed the last 20 years as broadcasting brothers. And nobody saw it better.