By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, hoping your Christmas stockings are filled with tidings of good joy.
SOME MOVEMENT: Cincinnati Reds general manager Nick Krall appears to be a man of his word. Before the winter meetings early this month, he said the Reds were interested in signing some stop-gap free agents to one-year contracts.
He said those players could use their year in Cincinnati to rejuvenate their careers and move to other teams.
The Reds took that first step Thursday when they signed catcher Curt Casali and first baseman/outfielder Wil Myers to one-year deals. And who spells Will with one ‘l?’
And perhaps most significantly, they rid themselves of underperforming infielder Mike Moustakas by designating him for assignment, which undoubtedly will lead to his release.
Myers agreed to a deal worth $7.5 million, with some incentives. Casali agreed to a deal worth $3.5 million with some incentives. Most of the incentives are pipe dreams.
Casali, 34, was a back-up catcher for the Reds from 2018 to 2020 and could be a valuable piece. He has a solid reputation in handling pitchers and can be a guide dog for young pitchers Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo and Graham Ashcraft.
He split time last season with San Francisco and Seattle and hit .203 with five homers and 17 RBI in 57 games.
Myers, 32, a former star with the San Diego Padres, fell on hard times and the club refused his $20 million club option for 2023. He hit .261 with seven homers and 41 RBI in 77 games last season for the Padres.
Myers was American League Rookie of the Year in 2013, but injuries plagued him the last couple of years. The plan is for him to fill right field.
“Obviously, coming off injuries, you want to come out and re-prove yourself,” Myers told MLB.com. “I’ve had a couple of years that have been a little down, so I want to be able to come out here and give myself a good chance to come out and have a nice year. It’s a great park to hit in and I’m very excited to see what I could do there.”
Moustakas signed a four-year $64 million deal with the Reds and was a monumental bust. He spent considerable time on the injured list last season. He hit .216 with seven homers and 25 RBI in 78 games. It is a costly move for the cash-strapped Reds. They still owe him $22 million.
Those aren’t moves designed to dig the Reds out of the National League Central basement and they won’t have to hire extra help to answer phones in the ticket office. But, well. . .they did do something.
—GOOD OR DECEIVING: There is nothing like false mirrors in college basketball when it comes to glossy records.
Duquesne comes to Dayton next week to open Atlantic 10 Conference play and the Dukes bring a 9-3 record, second best in the A-10. Nifty, huh?
Well, as Lee Corso often says on ESPN’s GameDay, “Not so fast, my friend.” Duquesne has played 11 of its 12 games at home. Its one road game was a 77-52 loss at Kentucky. The Dukes have won three straight coming to Dayton — DePaul, Indiana State and Winthrop, all in Pittsburgh.
The A-10 shocker is Fordham, a team that other A-10 teams usually wipe their sneakers on. The Rams are 12-1. . .again, deceiving. They have played one quality team and lost mammothly, 74-48, at Arkansas. Their noteworthy wins, if one call call them that, are Dartmouth, Maine, Holy Cross, Harvard and at Tulane.
UD is 8-5, with losses to UNLV, Wisconsin, North Carolina State, BYU and Virginia Tech. Duquesne can claim one opponent of that calibre, Kentucky. Fordham’s pre-conference schedule is filled with pushovers.
As one A-10 observer said, “Fordham’s record and Duquesne’s record is pure, unsliced baloney.” (Hey, I love fried baloney sandwiches.)
—POLAR DEPRESSED: If ever the Cleveland Browns enjoyed an advantage, it was Saturday at FirstEnergy Field. It was not only unfit for the Chicago Bears, it was unfit for polar bears.
The opponent was not the Chicago Bears. It was the New Orleans Saints, a team that plays home games indoors at the climate-controlled SuperDome.
The bomb cyclone hit and it wasn’t Nick Chubb. It was something that had the wind chill conditions at 15 below zero. And wind gusts near 50 miles an hour swept in off Lake Erie.
New Orleans coach Dennis Allen tried to downplay it before the game by saying, “It’s going to be cold for everybody. Let’s don’t make too big a deal about it. Let’s go play a game and let’s go try to win, but yet there’s been a lot of advancement in warm-weather gear and the last thing I want is somebody out there looking like the damn Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.”
Was he describing Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson. Of course, it was the Browns who played like stationary snowmen. After grabbing a 10-0 lead, the Browns froze in their tracks and the Saints slalomed to a 17-10 win. All together now. . .”Same ol’ Browns.”
And Deshaun Watson still stinks.
A SUPER MARCH?: The Cincinnati Bengals continued their matriculation toward a date with the Super Bowl with an escape from disaster in frigid Foxboro.
They led, 22-0, at the half. Mighty Joe Burrow, the AFC’s MVP (you read it here first), was 42 for 50 for 375 with two touchdowns.
But it took a New England fumble at the Bengals’ 5-yard-line with 55 seconds left to preserve a 22-18 win, their seventh straight.
I would have given away three of my Christmas presents — a paisley tie, a fruit cake and a bottle of Old Spice — to attend New England coach Bill Belichick’s one-word answers during his post-game press conference.
—VIKING TOUR: If there is a Chosen Team in the NFL, it is the Minnesota Vikings. They beat the New York Giants on a last-second field goal, 27-24. They’ve won 12 games, 11 by one score, an NFL record.
And they are a major headache for bettors. In their 13 games, they’ve covered or beat the spread only seven times.
—UPSET CITY: Three more reasons why ya gotta love college basketball:
*Eastern Illinois was 31 1/2-point underdogs, but barged into Iowa City and beat Iowa, 92-83. EIU is the first team in more than 30 years to be more than a 30-point underdog and win. Teams more than 30-point ‘dogs were 0-588 before EIU stopped the Hawkeyes. And EIU trailed Iowa, 18-4 at the game’s beginning.
*Number 25-ranked Arizona State (11-1) was only a 2 1/2-point favorite for its visit to San Francisco. They could have been a 30-point underdog. San Francisco obliterated the Sun Devils, 97-60.
*Remember the 77-49 beatdown Virginia Tech put on Dayton in Blacksburg? Boston College was not impressed. Virginia Tech, No. 21 in the AP Poll, visited Boston and lost in overtime, 70-65. BC had lost five of its previous six games.
—MERRY CHRISTMAS: My favorite Christmas movies.
*Christmas Vacation (A laugh a minute every time I watch it. Doesn’t everybody have a Cousin Eddie?)
*Miracle on 34th Street (It’s a miracle to survive a walk down 34th street in New York )
*It’s a Wonderful Life. (I wouldn’t want to spend Christmas the way Jimmy Stewart did.)
*A Christmas Carol (To Ebenezer Scrooge, “Bah, humbug.)
*White Christmas (Just look out your window. You wanted a white Christmas, but if you go outside for more than a minute your lips will fall off.)