By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, just three weeks away from the start of spring training where hope springs eternal. . .well, for most teams.
—TEAM EFFORT: Now that the smoke has cleared and the Cincinnati Bengals have packed away their striped helmets, it is time to reflect.
They lost the AFC championship game to Kansas City square and fair.
Most Bengals fans are as red-faced as Kansas City’s jerseys over the officiating, wishing the officials had swallowed their whistles and chocked to death.
Was the officiating bad? You betcha. Horrendous on both sides. But they didn’t lose the game for the Bengals. They were equal-opportunity awful. . .blew calls and misseds calls on both sides.
The officials weren’t assigned to block Chiefs’ defensive tackle Chris Jones. He was in Bengals’ quarterback Joe Burrow’s face like a cheap cigar. Burrow could smell his breath.
It was the Bengals’ offensive line that paved the way to defeat. It was as effective as the Maginot Line. It was as functional as a hood ornament.
And the defensive line/linebackers? Quarterback Patrick Mahomes was playing on one leg, but could they get to him? His uniform was as clean as the day it came out of the wrapper. He stood in the pocket and could pick his nose before he picked out a receiver.
The offensive line and the defensive line/linebackers lost that game for the Bengals.
And there are legions out there harboring a conspiracy theory, that the game was fixed, that the NFL wanted Kansas City in the Super Bowl and not the Bengals.
Hey, folks, take off your tin foil hat and get real. The NFL doesn’t care who plays in the Super Bowl. The high-end advertisers are there and the Super Bowl gets high ratings on TV no matter who plays in it. . .even if the Chattanooga Choo-Choos are playing the Tuscaloose Toads.
Even though I’m a supporter-to-the-end of the Cleveland Browns, I was rooting hard for the Bengals, hoping they would play the same game they played the week before against Buffalo.
Didn’t happen. If anything, there was too much trash talk from the Bengals side that motivated the Chiefs. Especially egregious was when Cincinnati cornerback Mike Hilton called Kansas City’s playground Burrowhead Stadium.
You think that didn’t tick off the Chiefs, especially Mahomes. It is HIS stadium. Even the Bengals, led by Burrow, lighting up cigars after big wins, antagonized the Chiefs.
Said one Chiefs player after the game, “We don’t have any cigars, but we just smoked the Bengals.”
And Cincinnati mayor Aftab Pureval opened his mouth on Friday before the game and inserted both feet. He should have swallowed a gag order. On a Twitter account, he issued a proclamation calling Sunday, “You Gotta Play Us Day.” And in it he wrote, “Whereas Joseph Lee Burrow, who’s 3-0 against Mahomes, has been asked by officials to take a paternity test to confirm whether or not he’s his (Mahomes’) father.”
After the game, KC tight end Travis Kelce wisely said, “Hey, I got some wise words for the Cincinnati mayor. Know your role and shut your mouth, you jabroni.”
For the uninitiated, a jabroni is a term used by ‘rasslers in the old WWF in the 90s that means a person is obnoxious or contemptible.
Yes, wise words. Shouldn’t the Cincinnati mayor have more important things to consider, like what to do about that Cincinnati street car boondogle?
And lastly, some fans want Joseph Ossai to be stripped naked, slathered in honey and hung by his feet in the bear cage at the Cincinnati Zoo.
Ossai gave Mahomes little more than a love tap out of bounds, invoking a roughing-the-passer penalty that set up the winning field goal. True, the penalty should have been ‘breathing-on-the-passer,’ but he did it out of bounds. . .automatic penalty.
Ossai was seen crying on the sidelines after the game, a heart-breaking sight. His penalty was a guy being aggressive, a heat-of-the-moment play.
All together now: He…did. . .not. . .lose. . .the. . .game. It was a team effort.
Get over it. Move on. There is always the upcoming baseball season and the Cincinnati Reds and, uh, well, never mind.
—TAKE A DEEP BREATH: There was a game last season when San Diego Padres pitcher and University of Dayton product Craig Stammen gave up four straight home runs. . .four batters, four homers to the Washington Nationals.
“And it happened on seven pitches,” said the North Star native and Versailles High School product.
Because he only gave up four home runs total in all of his previoius games he wondered what in the name of Rawlings baseballs was going on.
“We checked the videotapes,” he said. “Turns out every time I was about to throw a fastball, I took a deep breath. If I didn’t take a deep breath, I was going to throw an off-speed pitch.”
It happens all the time. The 2017 tub-thumping Houston Astros stole signs Illegally. In 2019,, they did it legally for one game.
During an American League Division Series game against Tampa Bay,, they pounded pitcher Tyler Glasnow. . .because they knew what was coming by the way he held his glove when he delivered his pitches.
Before Carlos Correa went to the plate, Alex Bregman told him, “If his glove is down, it’s a curveball. If his glove is up, it’s a fastball.”
—MILLER TIME: With apologies to Jeff Foxworth and his, “You just might be a red neck” jokes, if your name is Miller, you just might be a basketball coach.
There is Sean Miller at Xavier and his brother, Archie, former University of Dayton coach now at Rhode Island. And there is Wes MIller at the University of Cincinnati, giving the Queen City the market on Millers with Wes and Sean.
There is Bruce Miller at Trine University (formerly Tri-State University in Angola, Ind.) and Jon Miller at Hanover. And, strangely, Dan Miller won 20 or more games three times in seven years at Division III LeTourneau University (Longview, Tex.) before he quit to take a high school job at San Marcos ISD.
Pat Miller is in his 22nd year as coach at Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater and has won two NCAA championships and owns more than 400 wins. And a guy named Mike Miller won 572 games at Hohonegah High School in Rockford, Ill.
Clearly, on the basketball floor it is often Miller Time.
—BACKLASH: To whom it may concern: “Friends have your back, they don’t stab it.”