By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, completely stunned after watching the University of Dayton basketball team blow a 23-point lead and after watching Michigan emasculate Ohio State.
—UPGRADING HISTORY?: There is no better baseball experience than watching a game at historic McCormick Field in Asheville, N.C.
McCormick Field, built in 1924 (third oldest professional stadium in the U.S.) is home to the Asheville Tourists of the High-A South Atlantic League. The team is owned by the family of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, the DeWine Seeds-Silver Dollar Baseball, LLC.
And Major League Baseball is sticking its nose into Asheville’s business. In 2020 MLB issued some facility requirements for minor league parks.
MLB eliminated 43 teams that year and Asheville was one of the 120 survivors. But McCormick Field was put on MLB’s hit list.
It has given the city until April of next year to come up with a plan and financing to upgrade the facility. With what it would cost, Asheville is looking for $30 million to comply. . .upgrades to clubhouses, concession stands, grandstands, press box and a new scoreboard and improved lighting, among other things.
If the city can’t meet the April 1 deadline, it will lose the franchise.
What a sham and what a shame. The quaintness of McCormick is the best part of its charm, a stroll into baseball’s past.
A few years ago, the DeWine family invited me to be a luncheon speaker when Asheville hosted the South Atlantic League All-Star game. Nadine and I then took in the game and it was a treat, a treat MLB wants to turn into just another antiseptic baseball stadium.
—QUOTE: From Babe Ruth after playing an exhibition game in McCormick Field in 1930: “My, my, what a beautiful place to play. Delightful. Damned delightful place.” (My thoughts exactly, Bambino.)
—A NICE DAY RUINED: Michigan 45, Ohio State 23. (Censored.) Three words. Totally outcoached. . .again. And the Buckeyes lost their composure in the second half.
The joke of the year is how Ohio State hired defensive guru Jim Knowles away from Oklahoma State, specifically for the Michigan game.
So how does Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy throw touchdown passes of 42, 75 and 69 yards. And how does running back Donavan Edwards break off TD runs of 75 and 85 yards?
Yeah, right. The Michigan offense was a tsunami and the Ohio State defense was a grass shack on the beach.
To Michigan fans who endure the Xichigan and TTUN references, in the words of Larry the Cable Guy, “I apologize.” And like Larry says, the Buckeyes didn’t git ‘er done.” But they definitely got it done to them.
—ADJECTIVES GALORE: One pro scout’s assessment of Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., as quoted in ESPN.com.
“He’s got rare ability — size (6-foot-4, 205 pounds), great route running, he can run vertical routes, underneath routes and is great on third down. He can get shots downfield. He also hasn’t dropped a pass all season. He’s also a great dude and the team rallies around him.”
Of course the guy jinxed him. Harrison dropped a slant pass over the middle in the second quarter against Michigan. But fear ye not. The next time he was targeted he made one of his unfathomable catches for a touchdown.
The scout could have summed up Harrison in one sentence: “He can leap tall buildings in a single bound.” But he couldn’t leap often enough over the Michigan defense.
—MIKE ‘EM UP: ESPN offered up a piece on its web-site suggesting the one thing every MLB team should do to improve.
For the Cincinnati Reds, it said they should sign San Diego free agent pitcher Mike Clevinger to fill out the rotation.
Yep, he fits. He missed most of 2021 with an injury and the Padres paid him $8 million last season for a 7-7 record with a 4.33 earned run average for 22 starts.
ESPN was correct, though, when it said the Reds are into a deep, deep rebuild and things won’t be any better next season for the last-placers.
—MOVE IT, MOVE IT: A quick observation about University of Dayton point guards Malachi Smith and Kobe Elvis.
They both often take too much time dribbling while not moving at the top of the lane, waiting for the offense to get set. And it leads to shot clock violations. . .two costly ones late in UD’s 43-42 loss to Wisconsin in the Battle 4 Atlantis. And another one late in UD’s overtime loss to Brigham Young.
They both left the game against BYU with injuries and injuries are doing more damage to the Flyers than opponents.
And this, Flyer Faithfuls, is what might have been. Wisconsin took Kanas into overtime in the second rounds before losing, 69-68, on a last-second stickback by Bobby Pettiford Jr., the shortest player on the floor (6-foot-1) and his only basket of the game.
Unfortunately, the reality was three straight UD losses, a last place finish and a flop to remember. The Flyers led Brigham Young 32-9 in the first half, then were outscored 70-44 the rest of the way to lose in overtime, 79-76.
What promised to be a win-filled season is on the brink of being shattered, pushed along by a bundle of injuries and illnesses.
The month of December is recovery time, both on and off the court.
—NIL, NIL?: What are these? 1-0, 1-0, 2-1, 1-1, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 2-1, 0-0 ( U.S.-England). Yes, those are some of the World Cup soccer first-round Group scores.
And some say baseball is boring. Four 0-0 ties? Are you serious?
Yes, I know, I know. Soccer popularity is world-wide and growing fast in the U.S. It is a great sport for young kids. . .before they graduate to American football.
Sorry soccer fans, but I just can’t get into watching 90-plus minutes of a 0-0 tie.
NOTE: After writing the words above, I sat down Thanksgiving morning and watched Uruguay-South Korea. Yep, 0-0. . .or in soccer vencular, nil-nil. It was like watching a cashier scan groceries at Kroger.
—QUOTE: From Welsh soccer player/manager Phil Woosnam: “The rules of soccer are very simple and basically it is this: If it moves, kick it. If it doesn’t move, kick it until it does.” (Sorry, I don’t get any kicks from soccer.)
—THE NAKED TRUTH: Soccer appears to be more fun off the field. After Canada lost to Belgium in the World Cup, Canadian coach John Herdman said his team would f – – – Croatia in its next match.
In response, the Croatian tabloid newspaper 24 Hours: Sata published a full frontal nude photo of Herdman with two Canadian maple leaf flags covering his mouth and his groin. The caption read: “You have the mouth, but do you have the balls as well?”
Don’t they need just one soccer ball on the pitch for a match?
—Words that I should consider from author Kira Hawke: “The words you write will outlive you, so choose them wisely.” (OK, soccer fans. I apologize.)
—PRIORITIES: Seen on a sign on a church near Middletown: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, then beat Michigan.”