OBSERVATIONS: Fifteen minutes they’ll never get back

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave and, like a lot of ‘former’ fans, I’m missing baseball less and less. Out of sight, out of care.

—If anybody with stars in their eyes who believes a baseball contract is imminent, well, close your eyes and count to 900. By the time you go from 1 to 900 the so-called negotiators will have taken off their coats, put them back on and left the room with a hard slam of the door.

On Thursday, the 78th day of baseball management’s lockout, one day after spring training was supposed to start, the two sides met to negotiate for only the sixth time.

And this is how serious they were. The meeting lasted 15 minutes. That’s not enough time to order pizza. The meeting probably broke up because the owners wanted plain pepperoni and the players wanted deluxe with bread sticks and salad.

Somebody should lock those guys in a room, hide the key and say, “You’re not coming out until an agreement is reached.” In about a week they would have a new basic agreement or somebody would need to call the coroner.

—Good friend Larry Wilberding sent me the box scored of a 1947 college baseball game between Yale and Fordham. The significance? On one team was a first baseman named George H. W. Bush and on the other team was a center fielder name Vin Scully.

The box score indicates why both went on to bigger and better things. Both went 0 for 3. Yale won the game, 3-1.

Bush became our 41st president. Scully wisely quit the team and became its radio voice on Fordham’s WFUV, where he broadcast the school’s football, basketball and baseball games.

Wonder whatever happened to ol’ Vinny?

—QUOTE: From legendary and iconic Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully: “I’m not a military general, not a business guru, not a philosopher or author. It’s only me.” (And what a ‘me’ he is, but not much of a center fielder.)

—There are whisperings that Tom Brady’s retirement might be the shortest in NFL history, that teams are contacting him to leave the golf course and strap on a helmet.

Why would he do it? Maybe the 43-year-old quarterback wants to become the oldest player in pro football history. If so, he has a few seasons to go.

George Blanda, a quarterback/placekicker for the Oakland Raiders, was still thrown’ and kickin’ when he was 48.

Then there was a guy in the 1920s named John Nesser who was quarterbacking the Columbus Panhandlers when he was 45. Columbus was one of the first NFL franchises and Nesser was one of six brothers to play pro football.

Also ahead of Brady: Steve DeBerg, 44; Vinny Testaverde, 44; and Warren Moon, 43.

—QUOTE: From comedian Don Rickles on why 48-year-old George Blanda retired: “The last time Blanda leaned over to take the snap, he couldn’t come out of the crouch.”

—One of the many reasons why I love college basketball surfaced Tuesday night. There were so many good games I wore out the remote (does anybody still call them clickers?).

Duke beat Wake Forest on a last second stick back. Ohio State mauled Minnesota. Penn State upended Michigan State. Tennessee whacked Kentucky. Texas beat Oklahoma, barely. Villanova nipped Providence. And just when my Wyoming Cowboys made the Top 25, they went to New Mexico’s pit and those viperous Lobos took a hunk out of the Cowpokes.

—From former Marquette/Ball State/Utah/Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus on facing talented opponents: “They have all those McDonald’s All-Americans. We have four guys on our team who don’t even have a McDonald’s in their town.” (How about Wendy’s, Rick?)

—Conference USA is shiftier than an interior decorator. The league has more departures than Gate 1 at Chicago O’Hare.

Before the start of the 2023 football season, 23 schools will have departed the league since its 1995 inception, 27 years ago.

By June 30, Southern Mississippi, Old Dominion and Marshall are vacating C-USA to join the Sun Belt. Apparently, the stubborn C-USA doesn’t believe it and included those three schools in its 2022 football schedules.

Question: How do you force a school to play if it doesn’t want to play.? The suspicion is that C-USA will try for a court order.

Before the 2023 football season, Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas State and Rice are leaving the C-USA.

The other schools that have departed over the years: Cincinnati, Central Florida, DePaul, East Carolina, Houston, Marquette, Memphis, Saint Louis, Louisville, South Florida, SMU, TCU, Tulane and Tulsa.

Somebody needs to change their deodorant.

¸¸—Is Spike Lee playing point guard for the New York Knicks? They blew a 28-point first-half lead and lost to the Brooklyn Nets. It was the third time in seven games they botched leads of 20 points or more and lost.

And they’ve lost seven of their last eight to fall into last place in the NBA’s Atlantic Division.

Don’t blame UD’s Obi Toppin. He continues to get limited playing time. In the game the Knicks blew the 28-point lead, Toppin played only 10 minutes (less than a quarter) and scored eight points and snagged four rebounds.

If he played 40 of the 48 minutes, he ostensibly could score 32 points and capture 16 rebounds. I know, I know. It doesn’t work that way, but it could, dammit.

But he continues to spend more time in a chair than Archie Bunker.

—What is it with the No. 11? No love. Even unlucky No. 13 get more respect. Why is it always the midnight hour and not 11 o’clock? Why is it burning the midnight oil? What’s wrong with 11 o’clock oil? Why is it the 12th of never?; Isn’t there an 11th of never? Why is a baker’s dozen 13? Why not 11?

Even most pro athletes avoid No. 11. The No. 11 has been retired by only one NFL team and by only five MLB teams.

The Cincinnati Reds had Barry Larkin. And Sparky’s Anderson’s No. 11 was retired. Before everybody howls that Sparky wore Cincinnati uniform No. 10. . .yes, that’s right. But he wore No. 11 as manager of the
Detroit Tigers and they retired it.

Some of the few famous No. 11s: Larry Fitzgerald, Phil Simms and Norm Van Brocklin in the NFL. Luis Aparicio, Carl Hubbell and Paul Waner in MLB. Yao Ming, Walt Frazier, Elvin Hayes and Isiah Thomas in the NBA, Mark Messier in the NHL and Darrell Waltrip in NASCAR.

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