By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, watching the downpour out The Man Cave window and hoping there isn’t a California-like deluge on Opening Day Thursday.
—PLAYERS GOT DUPED: With the power the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) owns, it is incredible that it permitted commissioner Rob Manfraud to pull this off.
Manfraud put together an 11-person Competition Committee that aprroves or disapproves of rule changes. And he stacked the deck.
There are only four players on the committee and seven front office types.
So when they voted on the pitch clock, the four players voted no and the other seven voted yes. And when they voted on eliminating the shift, the four players voted no and the other seven voted yes.
Sounds as if the vote was taken in Florida.
—ONE FOR PHIL: Found a song that Sonny & Cher could dedicate to Cincinnati Reds COO Phil Castellin. It’s called ‘Where Do You Go?’
—TALKING SOAP?: Remember Detroit Tigers pitcher Mark ‘The Bird’ Fidrych? He used to hold the baseball in his hand and talk to it before every pitch.
Umpire Ron Luciano thought it was all a big phony act, “Until I walked through their clubhouse one day on my way to the trainer’s room and saw Fidrych talking to a bar of soap.”
He was probably trying to clean up his act.
—TUG ON THIS: And then there was New York Mets super-flake relief pitcher Tug McGraw.
Manager Casey Stengel removed Tom Seaver from a game and as he handed the ball to McGraw he said, “Think you can get ‘em out?”
Said McGraw, “Geez, Yogi. You just took out the best pitcher in baseball. If he can’t get ‘em out, what do you expect from me?”
—THE JUDGEBURGER: They will be selling a special burger in Yankee Stadium this year. It is called the 99 Burger and it only costs half a car payment. Just $19.99 and all the ketchup you can pour on it. The ’99’ is an obvious reference to Aaron Judge, who wears ’99’ on his Yankees jersey.
But $19.99? Guess the Yankees are figuring devious ways to come up with that $360 million they owe Judge At $19.99 a burger, they might covere it by season’s end.
—FLEEING FLYERS: What’s going on with the University of Dayton basketball program? Within 48 hours of each other, Amzil Mustapha, R.J. Blakney and Richard Amaefule put themselves in the transfer portal.
Amzil was a bit of a surprise, although he probably was not happy with his playing time. He will forever be remembered for his buzzer-beater shot that beat Kansas two years ago. But he was a hold-your-breath ball handler, susceptible to turnovers.
Blakney is a strange case. He was the team’s best defender and a regular starter. Suddenly, he wasn’t and his playing time melted away. Coach Anthony Grant said he was dealing with both an injury and “some personal issues.”
Amaefule was an injury-prone non-factor who ascored one point last season.
If you can’t enjoy playing for a great program like UD’s in front of 13,427 enthusiastic and supportive fans, where else can you be happy?
Fans are uneasy waiting to see what happens with DaRon Holmes II and Toumani Camara.
What blows my mind is when they announce their departures on Instagram, they all say what a great experience they had, what great fans they had, what great coaching they had, what a fabulous brotherhood they had with their teammates. Then why bolt?
—THEY CALLED HIM MOO: Speaking of University of Dayton transfers, I was channel-surfing when I ran across an NIT game involving North Texas State and right away I saw Moulaye Sissoko dunk one.
He plays less at NTS than he did at UD. He averages 8.2 minutes a game and 2.2 points.
And later I was watching Gonzaga and saw Malachi Smith. What? When did he transfer from UD? He didn’t. It is a different Malachi Smith. So how many Malachi Smiths are there?
Well, there was a Malachi Smith at Wright State. Is that the third Malachi Smith? No, this one transferred from WSU to Chattanooga and then to Gonzaga.
Got all that?
—SEND AWAY ‘THE CLOWN’: To the surprise of nobody, the Cleveland Browns released defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. He was sent home late last season after ripping the team for his perceived perception that the Browns did everything for defensive end Myles Garrett and nothing for him.
Never mind that Garrett was at least twice as good as Clowney. What was surprising was that the Browns waited so long to tell him to skedaddle and don’t let the door hit him in the shoulder pads.
The Browns also lost runningback D’Ernest Johnson via free agency to the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was no great loss, even though Johnson showed flashes of brillance. He was third string behind Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
Hunt also is a free agent, but remains unsigned. lf you are playing behind Nick Chubb, you won’t ever be the featured back.
—CAN HE TAKE IT BACK?: UCLA led Gonzaga at the ha in the NCAA tournament Friday night, 46-33, after shooting 51.4% on 19 for 37. As he left the floor, UCLA coach Mick Cronin told a national TV audience, “When the ball goes in, you become a better coach.”
Man, was he an awful coach in the second half. The Bruins couldn’t throw the ball into the Pacifice Ocen off the Santa Monica Pier. They shot 30% (9 for 30), went 10 minutes without a basket on 0 for 11 shooting, got outscored 46-30 and lost, 79-76.
—ANOTHER INTERLOPER: With Fairleigh Dickinson gone, I rooted for another upstart. . .the Florida Atlantic Owls from Boca Raton, Fla.
The school opened in 1964 withs 867 students. The first degree went to President Lyndon B. Johnson, an honorary degree. The campus was built on the 5,860 acres of an old World War II airfield, the Boca Rotan Army Airfield.
They began intercollegiate athletics in 1979 and there are now 30,000 students.
—DOG-GONE IT: All three of our dogs (Paige, Quinn and Parker) love Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes so much that we fear they might be cereal killers.
—LIFT ME UP: My favorite songs for inspiration when I’m down: Imagine (John Lennon), Why Me Lord? (Kris Kristofferson), You’ll Never Walk Alone (Josh Groban), Don’t Stop Believin’ (Journey), American Trilogy (Elvis Presley), Dream On (Aerosmith), Wind Beneath My Wings (Bette Midler), Fight Song (Rachel Platten), Beautiful Day (U2).
What A Feeling (Irene Cara), What A Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong), Hall of Fame (The Script), Tubthumper (Chumbawumba).