By HAL McCOY
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, wondering why I waste valuable time watching the Cleveland Browns when I could do something more pleasant, like cleaning the toilets.
—K ‘EM ALL: When Jack McKeon managed the Cincinnati Reds, if you saw him on the road at mass or in a restaurant, you also saw Harry Dunlop.
Dunlop was McKeon’s bench coach and constant companion, one of those endearing friendships. When nice-guy genes were passed out, Dunlop received the mother lode.
Dunlop, 89, passed away this week. While he never made the majors, Dunlop was a minor league catcher and spent 21 years as a coach in the majors between 1969 and 2005.
Dunlop was a talking encyclopedia about his days in the minors and I never tired of hearing his story of the day he caught Ron Necciai.
It was in May of 1952 and Necciai struck out 27 batters in a Class D game for Bristol in the Appalachian League, an all-time professional record that still stands. One batter reached base on Dunlop’s passed ball on a strikeout. The one other out was a ground ball.
What is even more amazing is that Dunlop spent only 16 days with Bristol and caught three no-hitters — Necciai’s and two by Bill Bell.
“It was the only nine-inning no-hitter in which a guy struck out 27 hitters in professional ball,” said Dunlop. “I felt like a celebrity after it. I told my manager, George Detore, ‘George, I called a helluva game, didn’t it?’
“You know what he said? He just looked at me and said, ‘Why’d you call that pitch to so-and-so in the sixth (the one ground ball?’’
When you were around Harry Dunlop and he wasn’t smiling. . .well, that never happened. RIP old friend, RIP.
—QUOTE: From Hall of Famer Willie Stargell: “I eventually became proud of my strikeouts, because each one represented another learning experience.” (Those guys who faced Ron Necciai were fed a full education.)
—HERE WE GO: The Cincinnati Reds are at it again, dumping a veteran and some salary. They traded shortstop Kyle Farmer to the Minnesota Twins for a minor league pitcher who may or may not have two arms.
They acquired right-handed pitcher Casey Legumina, 25. He was 2-6 with a 4.80 earned run average at High-A Cedar Rapids and Double-A Wichita over 33 appearances, 16 starts, last season.
Then, strangely, they immediately traded relief pitcher Dauri Moreta to Pittsburgh for shortstop Kevin Newman. Farmer, in his second year of salary arbitration eligibility, was projected to make $6 million in 2023. Newman made $1.95 million last year with the Pirates.
All together now. . .here we ago again.
—FALSE HOPE: Why is that that it seems as if the Cleveland Browns always march down the field like Hessian soldiers, taking no prisoners, on their first possession of a game and look like Super Bowl champions?
Then they have to play the rest of the game and look as if an oblong piece of leather is a foreign object? They did it again Sunday in a 31-23 loss to Buffalo. They took the opening kickoff and sliced through Buffalo’s defense as if it weren’t on the field.
Then nothing. Mistakes. Penalties. Fumbles. Bad play calls. What made me want to throw a shoe through my TV screen occurred in the third quarter when they trailed by only 16-10.
They had third-and-one in Buffalo real estate. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett tried two sneaks and failed. Why do that? Don’t they have one of the NFL’s best and most powerful runners in Nick Chubb? He could fall forward for a yard.
And it was all downhill toward another downfall for the Les Miserables Browns, losers in six of their last seven.
—SOME ESCAPED, SOME DIDN’T: And this is why we all love college sports. As the immortal pitcher Joaquin Andujar once famously said, “I’ll say it in one word. . .youneverknow.”
It was Close Call Week for the top-ranked football teams and some rated teams didn’t answer the call at all.
Georgia (1) held off Kentucky, 16-6. Ohio State (2) scored late to beat Maryland, 43-30. Michigan (3) needed a couple of field goals to ward off Illinois, 19-17. TCU (4) scored late to beat Baylor, 29-28.
And then there was Tennessee (5), ranked No. 1 a couple of weeks ago by the CFP folks. The Vols, 22 1/2-point favorites, were blown away by USC, 63-38, And that USC was South Carolina.
The other USC, Southern California (7) outpointed UCLA (16), 48-45. And it was a bad day for the big boys in North Carolina. UNC (13) lost to a 5-6 Georgia Tech, 21-17. NC State (24) lost to Louisville, 25-10.
Ole Miss (14) was pushed around by Arkansas, 42-27. Central Florida (20) was sunk by Navy, 17-14.
If you bet the Top Three and gave the points, you probably have to delay your house payment for a month. Georgia, a 22 1/2-point favorite, won by six. Ohio State, a 26 1/2-point pick, won by 13. Michigan, a 17 1/2-point choice won by two.
Summing up: Six members of the Top 25 lost and all four of the Top Four escaped by the skin of their exposed knees (And why do players these days wear pants above their knees, exposing the vulnerable joints? There is knee padding in the below-the-knees britches.)
While we’re at it, on the local basketball front, the Dayton Flyers were 21 1/2-point favorites over Robert Morris University and won by nine.
Moral to all this? Keep your wallet buttoned into your back pocket and your purse over your shoulder.
—WHAT PRICE?: In preparation for soccer’s World Cup, the Qatar government has built seven stadiums, a new airport, a metro system and nearly 100 hotels. And a city is sprouting next to the stadium where the finals are scheduled.
How did they do this? With foreign labor, 30,000 migrants from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and The Philippines. And at what cost?
We don’t mean money, we mean lives. In 2021 alone, more than 50 died and more than 500 were seriously injured. A British newspaper, The Guardian, reported that 6,500 have died since the projects began in 2010.
And you can bet those migrant workers were paid peanuts, rice kernels and lettuce — and not the green folding lettuce you put in your wallet.
—HURT FEELINGS: Quarterback Jameis Winston says he is recovered from back and foot injuries, but now his feelings are hurt.
Even though he is healthy, the Saints plan to continue starting former Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton for now.
“I lost my job due to injury and the policy has always been you don’t lose your job due to injury. And that’s what happened,” Winston said. But he added that he is a team player and supports Dalton and the coaching staff.
“I wear a shirt that says, ‘Big team, little me,’ even though it hurts my heart. It hurts my soul the way things have turned out to be this year, but it is what it is,” he said.
It does seem like a strange decision because Dalton is not doing anything close to an imitation of Tua Tagovailoa.