By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, starting a diet with the goal of losing 15 pounds. I know from previous diets, losing weight is a piece of cake, but you can’t eat it.
—THE RIGHT STUFF: There was one good thing that came out of the Houston Astros illegal sign-stealing mess. One thing.
What? It brought Dusty Baker back into baseball and that might not have happened without the scandal.
I was a guest this week on Allen Cutler’s new sports talk show out of Lexington and he brought it up with a comment that hit the bulls-eye.
He said, “Without the Houston scandal, Dusty Baker might not have managed again.” To me, he is right on.
After the Washington Nationals let him go after a 97-win season, Baker slipped into near-oblivion as a special advisor with the San Francisco Giants.
But after the scandal, after the Astros fired manager A.J. Hinch, the club needed somebody to clean up the mess, somebody highly-respected in the baseball world, somebody with no warts, somebody who knew the game inside-out and sideways.
Who better than Johnnie B. (Dusty Baker) Jr.?
Not only did he unrock the boat in Houston, he led them to this year’s World Series championship. And he signed a one-year contract to return as manager in 2023. It’s a no-brainer, even if he will be 74. Senior citizens, unite.
“I always said if I win one, I wanted two,” said Baker. “I’m going to try to keep my word. I like to keep my word. This was as much fun as I’ve had. . .ever.”
—NO RESPECT: Are the Cincinnati Reds the Rodney Dangerfield of major league baseball? Can the disrespect for the franchise sink any lower?
In a piece about the upcoming off-season free agent signings and trades, The Athletic web-site wrote, “It’s time to make big moves. . .unless you are the Reds.”
Harsh, but true.
—QUOTE: From comedian Rodney Dangerfield: “If the odds are 50/50, I don’t stand a chance.” (Yes, it does sound like the Reds.)
—REDS REPORT: The Cincinnati Reds declined a $13 million mutual option on pitcher Mike Minor, a wise decision, and he is a free agent. It cost the Reds a $500,000 buyout to tell him to go away.
And to keep five possible free agents, the Reds must make each an $18.4 million qualifying offer. The player can accept and stay with the Reds at that salary or become free agents.
The players are pitcher Chase Anderson, catcher Austin Romine, infielder Donovan Solano, pitcher Hunter Strickland and pitcher Justin Wilson.
And which of those will receive a qualifying offer?
That’s the good news. The bad news is that the Reds are on the hook for $18 million next season for infielder Mike Moustakas, if they can’t trade him and a trade is unlikely. He was on the injured list six times last season.
Moustakas and the Reds have a $20 million mutual option for 2024 with a $4 million buyout. It is likely the Reds will cut a check for $4 million and tell him to skeddadle.
—FALL GUY: Another coach took the rap for front office failures when Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay fired head coach Frank Reich.
Just after Reich was hired five years ago, quarterback Andrew Luck suddenly retired. So, during Reich’s five seasons he has had to endure five different starting quarterbacks.
Irsay must not know what year it is. Just last year he extended Reich’s contract through 2026. And he obviously doesn’t know what day it is. He named Jeff Saturday as interim coach when he knows the NFL only plays regular-season games on Sunday, Monday and Thursday.
—EMPTY SEATS: When I watch one of those Mid-American Conference mid-week football games, I always hope they don’t show the stands.
When they do, it reminds me of Great American Ball Park last season. . .row after row after row of empty seats.
Why does the MAC do it when it knows fans won’t be there? It starts with ‘m’ and ends with ‘y’ and it isn’t malarkey. It is m-o-n-e-y. Of course it is. A million reasons.
ESPN pays each MAC school $1 million to play during the mid-week. As one MAC executive said, “It gives ESPN mid-week content and we’ll take the million.” Of course they will.
When Reds executive Phil Castellini asked TV viewers, “Where ya gonna go?”, they didn’t say, “To a Tuesday night MAC football game.”
—DEAD HORSE: Wright State opened its season at the Nutter Center against Davidson, an Atlantic-10 member located 430 miles from Fairborn.
Meanwhile, another Atlantic-10 member, the University of Dayton, is only 13 1/2 miles away.
If Davidson isn’t afraid to play Wright State and come all the way to Fairborn to do it, why can’t the Flyers schedule Wright State?
I know, I know. The old argument is that Dayton has nothing to gain and a lot to lose. So is losing to Wright State any more painful than losing to UMass-Lowell, Lipscomb and Austin Peay as UD did last season, all in UD Arena?
As Wright State athletic director Bob Grant says, “We’ll play them in a parking lot for charity.”
If the University of Cincinnati and Xavier can play, why not WSU-UD? If Philadelphia’s Big Five — St. Joseph’s, LaSalle, Temple, Penn and Villanova can all play each other, why not UD-WSU?
And before Flyer fans come after me, there isn’t a bigger UD fan in Dayton than I am. Check my closet for UD gear.
—QUOTE: Picked up from former Northmont/Brookville baseball coach Chuck Harlow, something former Browns/Bengals coach Paul Brown said, “When you win, say nothing. When you lose, say less.” (To say something, though, those are words to live by.)