By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, still blurry-eyed and seeing double after laser surgery to my left eye this week. . .and some people believe I’m always blurry-eyed and seeing double.
—LEATHER LUNGS?: One of the last times the Cincinnati Reds displayed any modicum of success, the general manager was Jim Bowden, or as broadcaster Marty Brennaman called him, ‘Ol Leatherpants.’
It was 1995 and the Reds made it to the NLCS. But they were shoved out the door in four straight by the Atlanta Bragves. Although the first two games went extra innings, the Reds scored five runs in four games while losing by 2-1 (11), 6-2 (10), 5-2 and 6-0.
One of the Reds best hitters, outfielder Reggie Sanders, was 2 for 16 with 10 strikeouts. Sanders, one of the truly nice guys in the game, was the butt of many jokes after that series. One writer (not me) penned, “Reggie Sanders did a grand imitation of Casey at the Bat and he didn’t even need a bat.”
Bowden now writes for The Athletic and recently graded the off-season activities of all 30 MLB teams. He gave the Reds a ‘D.’
“The rebuilding Reds did little to help the major league team,” he wrote. “They weren’t able to swing deals for any significant prospects at the (trade) deadline like they did last year.
“The Reds are the last-place team in this (National League Central) division and will be near the top of the draft for years to come,” he added. “Their farm system is now stocked with talented and elite athletes. It is going to take patience, but the long-term plan is solid and should work in time if they stick with it.”
The key phrase in all of that is, “. . .if they stick with it.” Will they? One has to wonder when Reds COO Phil Castellini brings visual aids to a Rosie Reds gathering to point out how the Reds have no chance to compete. And he supposedly told them the team has good prospects but probably won’t be able to keep them.
Purchase those tickets now. . .for 2028. In the meantime, “Where ya gonna go?”
—NO ANCHOVIES: I saw one of the new bases they are using in MLB games this season. They should have ‘Dominos’ printed on top of them. Or, to go local, ‘Marian’s.’ Yes, they resemble pizza boxes, large pizzas. Player will have to be careful not to step on the pepperoni.
—A TALL TALE : I watched the Western Kentucky-Louisiana Tech basketball game this week, just to see the tallest Division I player, WKU’s Jamarion Sharp.
When he is seen off the court one wonders how he walks under the basket without hitting his head on the rim. He is 7-foot-5, so he does have some clearance.
But as he grew taller and taller he began hitting his head on the ceiling lights in his Hopkinsville, Ky. home. While in high school, he was self-conscious about his height and refused to go out with his family because of the stares and silly questions.
Finally, he donned a hoodie on which was printed, “Yes, I play ball. . .I’m 7-foot-5 and the weather is good up here.”
He has outgrown that and is now an extrovert who embraces his uniqueness. He is not a scorer, only seven points a game. He averages 7.3 rebounds a game and, of course, leads the nation in blocked shots at 4.3 a game. Opponents drive to the basket with one eye on the rim and one eye on Sharp. . .or both eyes.
How about a match-up against Purdue’s 7-foot-4 Zach Edey? A mismatch. Edey averages 15.7 points game, but more significantly Edey outweighs Sharp 295-245. Sharp is eating six meals a day trying to gain weight.
—QUOTE: From poet/playwright T.S. Eliot, who wrote the play ’Murder in the Cathedral:’ “If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?” (Hey, T.S., that doesn’t rhyme, but it is poetic.)
—WHAT PRICE, WINS? — One wonders where the University of Alabama’s priorities reside. Win at all costs?
On Tuesday, Tuscaloosa police said Alabama super-freshman basketball star Brandon Miller brought a gun at the request of a former teammate that was used to murder a 23-year-old mother.
On Wednesday, Miller scored 41 points as Alabama beat South Carolina in overtime. Miller scored the basket to send the game into overtime and scored the game-winner in overtime.
Because Miller has not been charged with anything, like accessory to murder, the ‘Bama administration decied to permit him to play. After all, the Tide had its No. 2 national ranking to protect.
South Carolina students chanted all game, “Lock him up, lock him up,” and ‘He’s guilty, he’s guilty.”
On this night, he locked up the Gamecocks and probably could have scored 20 with handcuffs on.
—QUOTE: From radio/TV talk show host Boomer Esiason on basketball: “The bigger the balls, the better the shooter.” (I don’t think he was talking about the size of a basketball.)
—MISS, MISS, MISS: Picture this. Ohio State was down four points, 75-71, to Penn State with 15 seconds left. The Buckeyes took five shots on their last possession and clanked all five off the rim. You’d think one would fall in by accident. Any questions why OSU has lost nine straight games?
Ohio’s other star-crossed team, Wright State, lost last Sunday at Purdue-Fort Wayne on a 45-foot buzzer-beater. Then on Thursday at Oakland, the Raiders were tied, 62-62 late in the game.
Oakland’s Jalen Moore hit a three on his way to 35 points and WSU lost, 75-68. Midway through the second half the Raiders led, 54-47, then were outscored 28-14 the rest of the way. WSU had open looks and just couldn’t knock ‘em down and as coach Scott Nagy said, “The refs handed out free throws to Oakland like they were passing out candy.” Moore was 14 for 18 at the free throws line and had nine rebounds and six assists.
All season long, the opposition’s best player always seem to score big and
WSU obviously has no defensive stopper.
—OH, MR. RODGERS: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers emerged this week from four days and four night in the solitude of a dark room. He was at the Sky Cave Retreat in Oregon, presumably contemplating his navel.
He told Pat McAfee on a podcast, “I was hoping to have a better sense of where I’m at in my life.”
There are those in Green Bay who believe Rodgers was in total darkness when he was in the huddle last season. He was not in the top ten in the NFL quarterback passer ratings. His 91.1 rating was 15th, behind guys like Dak Prescott, Andy Dalton, Daniel Jones and Ryan Tannehill.
And yet talk shows are in a daily tizzy over whether he will stay in Green Bay or get traded. Maybe he’ll end up with an XFL or a USFL team.
—QUESTION/ANSWER: A so-called friend asked me, “What do you call the Cleveland Browns at the Super Bowl? Spectators.”
—SHORT STUFF: Everybody and everything seems to have a ‘Short List.’ Who is on the short list to manage the Reds or who is on the short list to win MVP?
Well, here is my ‘Short List’ and Jose Altuve and Muggsy Bogues didn’t quite make it. It is: Danny DeVito at 4-foot-11, Genghis Kahn at 5-foot-1, Prince at 5-foot-2, Paul Simon at 5-foot-3, Martin Scorsese at 5-foot-3, Ludwing Von Beethoven at 5-foot-3, Voltaire at 5-foot-3.
And coming in at 5-foot-4: Michael J. Fox, Pablo Picasso, Mahatma Gandi, Truman Capote, Kevin Hart, Harry Houdini and Mel Brooks.
Shouldn’t Martin Short be on this list? Nope. He stands 5-foot-7.
—SPECIAL MESSAGE: Every time I hear Alan Jackson sing ‘The Older I Get,’ I am certain he is aiming it at me with the lyrics:
“The older I get, the more I think. You only get a minute, better live while you’re in it, ‘cause it’s gone in a blink.
“The older I get, the fewer friends I have. But you don’t need a lot when the ones you got have got your back.
“The older I get, the longer I pray, I don’t know why, I guess that I’ve got more to say.
“And the older I get, the more thankful I feel, for the life I’ve had and all the life I’m living still.”