By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, still coughing after our cruise and for that. . .thank you, Europe. But I am the first on my block to obtain the spiffy black City Connect hat the Cincinnati Reds will wear Friday night.
—DECORUM IN THE DUGOUT, PLEASE: This most likely will be unpopular with many fans, but as an old, old, old-school guy, I’ve had enough.
I’m talking about those silly orchestrations when a guy hits a home run and when he hits the dugout he is adorned with a sombrero or an embroidered jacket or a suit coat with a fedora or a cheesehead or a Viking helmet or a Samurai helmet.
It was cute when Toronto started it with the embroidered jacket. But now every team is trying to outdo the other teams with outrageous gear and dugout shenanigans.
They even do it when they are behind, 9-0, and one of them hits a solo home run. It’s all part of the Look-At-Me generation, an off-shot of the NFL end zone choreography.
I liked it way back in 1967 when Green Bay’s Travis Williams did an end zone dance after scoring a touchdown and coach Vince Lombardi pulled him aside and said, “Travis, the next time you make it to the end zone, act like you’ve been there before.”
Let’s apply that to baseball with: “Next time you hit a home run, act as if you’ve done it before.”
Fortunately, the Blue Jays, who started it all, have tossed aside the dugout jacket ceremony and said they prefer to concentrate on winning. Great advice.
—QUOTE: From former catcher and Hall of Fame broadcaster
Bob Uecker: “ I remember against the Dodgers, they led, 2 – 1, and it’s the bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, two out and the pitcher has a full count on me. I look over to the Dodger dugout and they’re all in street clothes.”
—THREE GOOD REASONS: An opinion from talk show host and good friend Andy Furman, who never took a step backward from controversy:
Furman believes the Cincinnati Reds should retire the number 32 worn by Tom Browning. And I agree.
Everybody knows about Browning’s perfect game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 16, 1988. How many know that the next year, July 4, 1989, Browning came within one inning of becoming the only pitchers in MLB history to throw two perfect games. He was perfect heading into the ninth, but Houston’s Dickie Thon led the inning with a double.
And a few months before his perfect game, on June 6, 1988, Browning came within two outs of a no-hitter. San Diego’s Tony Gwynn singled with one out in the ninth.
That’s no controversy. That’s reality. Hang that ’32’ up on the Great American Ball Park facade.
—QUOTE: Tom Browning on his first thoughts after completing his perefect game: “I remember Ron Oester tackling me and after that it honestly felt like an out-of-body experience. It was like I was fifteen, twenty feet above the pile and looking down at it.”
—SMOKE ‘EM IF YOU GOT ‘EM: Former MLB manager Jim Leyland was a chain smoke and sometimes in his clubhouse office he would have two lit cigarettes in his ash tray. And he was known to cup a lit cigarette in his hand in the dugout during games to take quick puffs.
One day he had one in his hand when an umpire made a dubious call. Leyland charged on the field, forgetting he had a lit cigarettein his hand. He quickly stuffed it into his back pocket.
When his argument was over, he headed back to the dugout. . .with his pants on fire.
***Another Leyland story: When he managed Detroit, he witnessed Sean Casey get thrown out at first base by the left fielder.
Casey hit a line drive that ticked off the third baseman’s glove. Casey thought the ball was caught and stopped running. Guys in the dugout shouted that the ball wasn’t caught. Casey turned and resumed his run to first, but the left fielder threw him out.
Casey sheepishly sat down at the far end of the dugout, as far away from Leyland as possible. But Leyland, never taking his eyes off the field, yelled, “Casey, come here.”
Casey walked slowly to Leyland’s side and Leyland, still staring out at the field, said, “Sean, can I ask you question?”
“Yes, sir,” said Casey.
Leyland, still staring at the field and not looking at Casey, said, “Did you have polio as a kid?”
—QUOTE: From Jim Leyland, who managed Pittsburgh, Florida (Miami), Detroit and Colorado: “Ikew we were in for a long season whe we lined up for the National Anthem on Opening Day in Detroit and I heard one of my players say, ‘Every time I hear that song I have a bad day.”
—ANOTHER FIX: While doing some research on the 1919 Chicago White throwing the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds, I ran across something I had never heard.
There were rumors that the 1918 Chicago Cubs threw the World Series to the Boston Red Sox. Some curious things happened.
The Cubs were picked off base three times, including twice in the decisive Game Six. That game was lost 2-1 on a two-run error by Cubs right fielder Max Flack. Game Four was tied, 2-2, in the eighth inning when Cubs pitcher Phil Douglas gave up a single, followed by a passed ball, followed by a Douglas throwing error on a bunt that allowed the winning run to score.
All this, of course, can happen naturally in games, but several baseball writers wrote that something smelled in Wrigley Field. Douglas was banned from baseball in 1922 when he told a friend on the St. Louis Cardinals that he would skip out on his New York Giants team, which might cost them the pennant, if someone would pay him to head home on the next train.
—ABOVE BOARD: NIL stands for Name, Image and Likeness, making it now legal for college athletes to accept cash, cars and mansions. That means NIL stands for something else, too. . .Now It’s Legal.
—KNIGHT, THE CHAIR-MAN: Remember when Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight threw a chair across the floor in a game against Purdue at Assembly Hall? Of course we do. It’s classic.
What most don’t know is that before the next game in Assembly Hall all the folding chairs that the IU players sat in were chained together. If Knight was going to throw a chair again, he’d have to throw about 20 of ‘em at once.
—QUOTE: From former Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight, one of the greatest quotes ever: “When my time on earth is done and my activities here are past, I want them to bury me upside down so my critics can kiss my ass.”
—DON’T DRINK UP: The official drink of the Kentucky Derby is the mint julep. I tried one once and thought it was something they should feed the horses instead of people. Jim Murray once described a mint julep as, “Bourbon and weeds.” That’s an insult to weeds.