By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave wondering if ESPN’s ‘Get Up’ and ‘First Take’ can talk about anything but the NFL. . .and the Dallas Cowboys in particular.
CUBS ON THE PROWL: This one sneaked up on me while I was celebrating New Year’s and bemoaning the one-point fate of Ohio State against Georgia.
When the Chicago Cubs lost Willson Contreras to free agency, they needed a catcher. And they went the defensive route. They signed former Cincinnati Reds catcher and two-time Gold Glover Tucker Barnhart to a two-year $6.5 million deal. Barnhart and Yan Gomes will share the mask and shin guards.
Like the Reds did, the Cubs systematically rid themselves of high-priced stars like Contreras, Yu Darvish, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Jason Heyward.
Unlike the Reds, the Cubs continue their rebuild by spending money to acquire shortstop Dansby Swanson and outfielder Cody Bellinger.
On May 7, 2021, when he was with the Reds, Barnhart caught Wade Miley’s no-hitter and they became close friends. Miley pitched for the Cubs last year while Barnhart played for Detroit.
Miley has moved on, signing with Milwaukee, but Barnhart sought Miley’s advice before signing with the Cubs. It will be Miley’s ninth team in 13 years.
“It is hard for me to choose a different organization that’s done it better (than the Cubs,” Miley told Barnhart.
Barnhart leaned on Miley’s advice, considered the proximity of Wrigley Field to his Brownsburg, Ind. home, was impressed by the Cuhs upward direction and signed on.
“The National League Central is very winnable for us,” said Barnhart. “The St. Louis Cardinals will be good, the Milwaukee Brewers will be good. . .and we all know about Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.”
Yeah, we sure do know about Cincinnati and Barnhart had an insider’s view for eight years. If you check his fingers, the only ring you’ll see is his wedding ring.
—QUOTE: From long-time broadcaster Harry Caray, who never called a World Series during his long tenure with the Chicago Cubs: “What does a mama bear on the pill have in common with the World Series? No Cubs.” (Caray died in 1998, long before his precious Cubs finall won the 2016 World Series, 108 years after their last one.)
—CASH FOR CARLOS: A lot of folks are laughing at Carlos Correa for turning down a $285 million offer from his team, the Minnesota Twins, to pursue bigger bucks in greener (greenbacks) pastures.
He got much bigger offers first from San Diego and then the New York Mets. But both were wary of medical issues with an ankle he shattered in 2014 and the offers disappeared.
Presumably with a Twins cap in hand, he slinked back to the Twins and accepted a $200 million offer.
Ah, ha. He lost $85 million by turning down Minnesota’s original $285 million offer then signed up with them for $200 million.
Uh, no. Simple math. The $285 million was for 10 years. . .$28.5 million a year. The $200 million contract is for six years. . .$33.3 million a year. It is simple math — a $4.5 million a year raise. Who is laughing now?
—CUSTER AT QUARTERBACK?: Still laughing at the talking head on ESPN who screamed and shouted that giving TCU 12 1/2 points against Georgia was ludicrous. . .too many points. You could have given the Horny Frogs 57 points and taken Georgia and won.
As loyal reader Joe Lassiter put it, “It was the biggest mismatch since George Armstrong Custer took on the Guardians.” (We can’t say Indians, can we?)
—LION TALES: Remember 2008 when the Detroit Lions went 0-and-16? If that’s too far back, just remember last year when the Lions were 3-13-1.
A devout Lions fan said to me six games into this season, “Well, same ol’ Lions, like the 2008 team and last year’s team.” At the time, the Lions were 1-and-6 and fans were ready to put cement shoes on quarterback Jared Goff and drop him into the Detroit River.
Well, the Lions won 8 of their next 10 to finish 9-8. They tied Seattle for the final wild card spot in the NFC. And how important can early-season games be?
On week four, during their 1-and-6 start when the Lions couldn’t beat Ferris State, they lost a home game to Seattle, 48-45. The head-to-head game was the tiebreaker, so Seattle plays and Detroit stays home.
Said my disgruntled Lions fan, “They might as well have gone 0-and-17, back to when we were the Cowardly Lions.”
—JUST A BIT SHORT: It took University of Dayton athletic director Neil Sullivan a heap of cajoling and convincing to women’a basketball coach Tamika Williams-Jeter away to lure her way from Wittenberg. She thought she had a chance to win a National Division III championship.
But she took the Dayton job, “The only one that could take me away from Wittenberg.” And she knew the challenge. The lockerroom was bare, extremely low on experience and talent. As expected, the Flyers started 2-and-12. . .but can’t a girl catch a break now and then?
Some of the losses: 74-70 in overtime to Illinois State, 82-78 in double overtime to Northern Kenucky, 52-51 to Ohio U., 69-65 to Florida, 70-69 to Duquesne.
That’s five lossess by a total of 14 points and three overtimes.
—QUOTE: From legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi: “We never lose a game, we just run out of time.” (Tamika Williams-Jeter needs the clocks fixed in UD Arena. They keep running out on her.)
—STICKS AND STONES: Nick Saban and his Alabama constituents have their jock straps in a twist over a remark made on national television.
During halftime of the national championship game, Saban and David Pollock were together on the ESPN set to talk about the first half.
With Georgia annihilating TCU, 35-7, Pollock looked at Saban and said, “Georgia has taken a hold of college football.”
Saban’s face looked as if somebody had hit him in the face with a pick axe. And Alabama Nation is in a tizzy. How dare him. What chutzpah.
First of all, Pollock is right. Two straight national titles is proof positive. It is up to Alabama to grab it back, if it can. Right now, Georgia is King of the Collegiate Gridiron.
Secondly, Pollock played his football at Georgia, so he is entitled to pop his buttons. . .for now.
—QUOTE: From Alabama coach Nick Saban: “All I know is that if we play well, we control our own destiny in terms of what we do.” (And those two losses this season is why you were sitting on a TV set instead of prowling the sidelines during the CFP.)
—WHAT’S IN A NAME?: Why do quarterbacks seem to have the coolest names? Is there a better name than South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler? And there is Spencer Petras at Iowa.
Does your first name have to be Chandler to be a quarterback in Louisiana like Chandler Rogers of Louisiana-Monroe and Chandler Fields at U. of Louisiana? Army and Navy QBs have cool names — Tyhier Tyler and Tai Lavatai.
Gunnar is popular, too — Gunnar Watson at Troy and Gunnar Bazelak at Indiana. How about Ty Keyes at Southern Mississippi or Rocky Lombardi at Northern Illinois or Collin Schlee at Kent State or N’Kosi Perry at Florida International or Chase Cunningham at Middle Tennesse State or Harrison Bailey at UNLV or Riley Leonard at Duke or Hayden Wolff at Old Dominion.
But it is still hard to beat cool names likeY.A. Tittle, Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, Otto Graham Joe Montana, Boomer Esiason, Babe Parilli, Daryle Lamonica, Roman Gabriel, Vinny Testaverde, Drew Brees or Daunte Dulpepper.