By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave thoroughly confused because baseball is still going, the NFL is in mid-season and the NBA and NHL are underway. It is a pro sports smorgasbord.
—BUTT, BUTT, BUTT: As the story goes, when Kyle Schwarber was playing baseball at Middletown High School, Ohio State scouted him with thoughts of offering him a scholarship.
But they backed away. Why? Well, the coach who watched him play said something like, “We don’t want him. His butt is too big.”
Maybe they didn’t have a uniform big enough to fit him. Indiana University found a uniform that fit nicely and he played so well he was the Chicago Cubs first-round pick (fourth overall) in 2014.
He worked six years for the Cubs, making $7 million his final year in Wrigley Field and the Cubs decided he wasn’t worth $7 million.
The Washington Nationals thought so and signed him to a $7 million free agent contract for 2020. But after one year, the Nationals traded him to Boston for some minor league character named Aldo Ramirez. Schwarber’s stop in Boston wasn’t long enough for him to acquire a taste for lobster bisque and after one season the Bosox bought out his option for $3 million.
That’s when the Philadelphia Phillies signed him to a three-year $60 million contract that runs through 2025. The Phillies couldn’t have made a better investment than if they bought the Liberty Bell.
Right now, Schwarber is more popular in Philly than Ben Franklin and William Penn combined. His mammoth home runs, some that don’t land until dawn’s early light, have helped carry the Phillies into their second straight World Series.
We pause now while the Cubs, Nationals and Red Sox bow their heads in a moment of silence.
And Schwarber, whose father, Greg, is a former Middletown police chief, loves his supporting cast and said of his teammates, “I wouldn’t want to go to war with anybody else.”
Somebody pointed out that Hall of Fame second baseman Nellie Fox, choking up on his tree-branch bat with a grapefruit-sized tobacco-chaw in his cheek, made10,351 plate appearances during his 19-year career and struck out a total of 216 times. They said Schwarber struck out 215 times this season.
Well, OK. But Fox hit a total of 35 career home runs. Schwarber hit 47 this season. So there.
—REDS VERSUS RANGERS: The Texas Rangers are in the World Series and the Cincinnati Reds are contemplating the Joey Votto situation.
But as I keep telling Nadine, in baseball the worst teams can, and do, beat the best teams. The Reds were not MLB’s worst team, but they were far from the best.
But they played Texas three games this season, all in Great American Bsll Park, and won all three — 7-6, 7-6, 5-3. Games 1 and 3 were both walk-off wins.
What does it mean? Nothing, absolutely nothing.
—DUSTY’S DECISION: Some folks inside his inner circle have whispered that 74-year-old Houston manager Dusty Baker is going to call it a managerial career, weary of the travel and absence froml home.
He is neither confirming nor denying, but after his Astros lost the ALCS in seven games to Texas, he said, “I got two dogs, hunting dogs, a year old. They wouldn’t even recognize me when I walk in the house because I haven’t been home since February the 10th.”
So, for Dusty, his career has reached The Dog Days.
—WHY THE DH?: Maybe the reason the designated hitter was instituted goes back to 1925, although it took a long time. But, mystery solved.
During a game in 1925, Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Burleigh Grimes batted three times and made seven outs. He hit into two double plays and a triple play.
Joe Torre, the former manager of the Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Mets, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, wasn’t a pitcher in his playing days. He was a catcher/third baseman.
During a game in 1975, while playing for the New York Mets, Torre hit into four ground ball double plays, still an MLB record — eight of the team’s 27 outs in four at bats.
—LET’S PLAY THREE: MLB scheduled doubleheaders have gone the way of the pterodactyls. They are only played as make-up games after rainouts.
But Hall of Fame catcher Roy Campanella remembers playing tripleheaders on hot Sunday afternoons.
“It was in the old Negro Leagues,” he said. “And it wasn’t so bad. They gave us fifty cents for meal money.”
—OH SAY CAN YOU SEE?: Left fielders constantly complain about the 4 p.m. starts at Great American Ball Park because the sun peeking above the stands blinds them.
Way back in 1977 columnist Jim Murray was complaining about a 5:15 start for a post-season October start in Philadelphia.
“It might be a fine time for pood fishing or courting on the front porch in a hammock or having a barbecue,” he wrote. “It’s like playing cards in the dark. You might as well play the game by phone to decide the National League pennant in the gloaming.”
Even back then, it was all about TV money.
—JUST STOP IT: There are rumblings around the NFL that Philadelphia’s Tush Push or The City of Brotherly Shove may be banished from the game.
If you haven’t seen them play, the Eagles use the Tush Push on short yardage situations. To start the play, they surround the football like a rugby scrum, everybody bunched together like a flock of birds huddled together to fend off the cold.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts crouches under center and takes the snap. The backs, lined up a foot from Hurts’ butt then shove him forward like a snow plow wiping out snow banks..
The play works every time for a first down or a touchdown on the goal-line. Outlaw it? Here’s an idea. Come up with a defense to stop it instead of whining about what is a perfectly legal play.
—A FOOLISH RULE: Few will argue that the NCAA is archaic. Examples abound. . .as in this one.
James Madison University moved from second-tier FCS football to top-tier FBS for this football season and joined the Sun Belt Conference.
JMU beat Marshall Thursday night and is 7-and-0. But the NCAA says the Dukes not only can’t accept a bowl bid but it can’t even play in the post-season Sun Belt championship game.
Why? For some inexplicable reason, the NCAA says schools advancing from FCS to FBS or schools changing conferences are ineligible for a year from playing in bowls or conference championship games.
—REAL McCOYS?: I watched the Idahoa Vandals (love that nickname) play the Montana Grizzlies last week, only because the Idaho quarterback is Gevani McCoy.
He completed 26 of 37 passes for 336 yards and two touchdowns. But he also threw two interceptions and the Vandals lost, 23-21.
Why can’t quarterbacks named McCoy ever win? I’m also referring to Colt McCoy when he quarterbacked for the Cleveland Browns. . .and the Washington Redskins/Commanders and the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants and the Arizona Cardinals.
—QUOTE: From former Marquette basketbll coach/humorist Al McGuire: “The only mystery in life is why the Japanese Kamikaze pilots wore helmets.”
—21ST FOR LeBRON?: The NBA season began this week and I was stunned to hear that it will be the 21st season for LeBron James. Say what? It seems only last week that James was playing at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary and appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated as prep phenom.
As a junior at Akron East, I scored a career-high 21 points against St. Vincent.. James, though. wasn’t there to knock my shots into the balcony. That was 1957 and James wasn’t born until 1984. Times flies at warp speed.