By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, wondering why I am not suffering Super Bowl Withdrawal but I am suffering Baseball Spring Training Withdrawal.
—If Dollar General and Dollar Tree operated their businesses like MLB, they’d be known as Nickle General and Dime Tree.
And that’s what MLB continues to do to frustrated baseball fans all over America, nickel and dime them to death.
Return with us to December of 2020 when MLB unceremoniously chopped down 42 minor league teams, cutting off fans at the knees from having teams in their towns. Many cities and towns with long, storied minor league histories were cut adrift.
By doing that, the 30 MLB franchises ended up with 120 affiliated minor league teams. Each of the 30 teams was left with one Triple-A, one Double-A, one High-A, one Low-A team.
And once upon a time, teams were able to have as many minor league teams as they wanted and to have as many minor league players under their control as they wanted. Then the commissioner’s office stepped in and said each team could control only 150 minor leaguers.
Now, during current negotiations, MLB is proposing a cutback to 120 players for each team. Math is not my strong suit, but I believe 30 players from each of the 30 MLB franchises equals 900 lost jobs.
How low and cheap can they go? Easily under the limbo bar, for sure. How much will they save when the Triple-A minimum salary is $16,800 and the minimum for Low-A is $9.600.
Not only do minor league players get paid below poverty level, they get to ride buses for hours and hours, get to stay in economy lodging and mostly eat fast food.
Of course, the Players Association will reject it. It is some of the cheapskate silliness that is moving a new contract negotiation at the pace of Sean Casey running to first base with the Great American Ball Park organ on his back.
And, oh, by the way. Wasn’t spring training scheduled to start this week? Then why are all the gates at minor league parks locked up tighter than a wet snare drum? Address all queries to commissioner Rob Manfred, the leader of the pack that is Rob-bing fans of baseball.
—Remember a Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle named Mike Reid? He was a No. 1 draft pick out of Penn State and was a two-time Pro Bowl pick.
Reid is in the Hall of Fame, but not the one in Canton. Reid was an accomplished pianist/songwriter. In 1974, he quit football to concentrate on music.
He won a Grammy and is in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. His Grammy was for writing ‘Stranger in My House,’ recorded by blind country artist Ronnie Milsap.
—QUOTE: From blind country singer Ronnie Milsap: “I don’t see here on this side, but I will see on the other side. I know I’ll get to walk those golden streets and I’ll get to see Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. And I’ll get to see the Lord, oh yes I will.”
—Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is, of course, a noted pitcher of footballs. There was a time, though, when he was a catcher of baseballs.
In his high school days at Highland Park (Tex.). He was the baseball team’s catcher. And whom did he catch? Some guy named Clayton Kershaw.
Wonder if Stafford was a better ‘receiver’ than Cooper Kupp?
—QUOTE: From Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw: “I’ve got an air mattress for a bed, so I’m really living the high life.” (Wonder if he bought it from Houston’s crazy gambler, Mattress Mack?)
—From my Mensa member brother-in-law, Dr. Rod Tomczak, who took the Bengals Super Bowl loss rather hard, especially the game-winning touchdown pass to Cooper Kupp when he was defended by Eli Apple.
“Eli Apple’s mother quit the news team at a Columbus station to manage Eli’s money and keep him in line. It would have been far better for Eli to quit football and manage his mother’s money and keep her on TV. She was pretty good, which is more than we an say about her son.”
Note to esteemed brother-in-law: Cupp exonerated Apple by saying the TD wasn’t his fault, that he played it right.
Apple, though, is a noted trash-talker and did a lot of it when the Bengals beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC championship game.
So after the Super Bowl, Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman tweeted: ”Wish you was a better corner, bro, then the game-winning touchdown wouldn’t been scored on you.”
Now that’s taking a large bite out of the Apple. But it sounds as if Mr. Hardman’s food for thought contains a lot of sour grapes.
—Speaking of Cooper Kupp, a friend told me he mortgaged his house, sold his car, sold his Chow Chow dog, sold his Persian Cat and put his parakeet on Craig’s List just to buy a Super Bowl ticket that was closer to God than the 50-yard-line.
“Then, the indignity of all,” he said. “A cup of beer cost $17 and it tasted like goat urine.”
—Several conference have banished schools from their post-season tournaments because those schools are leaving after this season to join other leagues.
What a crock. Why penalize those schools’ athletes, who have done nothing wrong?
One of them was the Horizon League, which earlier this month banned UIC from the conference tournament because the Flames are leaving the league to join the Missouri Valley Conference.
Then, the Horizon rescinded the banishment and UIC will play in the tournament. Good on the Horizon. It was the right thing to do.
Some of the school that have been uninvited to their conference tournaments because they are leaving for greener acres: James Madison (Colonial Athletic Conference), Stony Brook (American East), Bellarmine (Atlantic Sun).
—Some confusion exists whether Mattress Mack really lost his $9.5 million wager on the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl.
He lost. How can that be? The Los Angeles Rams were favored by 4 1/2 points and only won by three. So, shouldn’t Mattress Mack have won his bet?
Well, no. He got greedy. He didn’t take the points. He bet the Bengals to win straight up. . meaning the Bengals had to win the game. If they had won, Mattress Mack would have won more money than if he took the points.
—QUOTE: From a gambler named Jack Yelton: “There is a very easy way to return from a casino with a small fortune. Go there with a large fortune.” (Mattress Mack is $9.5 million lighter of wallet and his fortune is a bit lighter.)