OBSERVATIONS: Some Off-The-Cuff Baseball And Other Stuff

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, wondering who else out there found sticks and lumps of coal under their Christmas tree.

—VEECK, AS IN WRECK: One paragraph from Gary Smith’s fabulous book, ‘Going Deep,’ fully describes the life of maverick baseball owner Bill Veeck:

“(Veeck) is responsible for the ivy on the outfield walls of Wrigley Field, for the Chicago White Sox last American League crown, for the Cleveland Indians last world championship, record attendance figures, exploding scoreboards, postgame fireworks, names on the backs of jerseys, a midget pinch-hitter namesdEddie Gaedel, a 43-year-old rookie pitcher named Satchel Paige, circus acts at second base, integrating the American League with African American Larry Doby — all while Bill polished off five books a week, three packs of cigarettes a day and a case of beer.”

—QUOTE: From Bill Veeck on his wooden leg: “All I have to fear is fire and termites.”

—TAX MAN COMETH: Los Angeles Dodgers, pay attention. In baseball, money doesn’t buy championships. Ask the New York Mets.

With the highest payroll in MLB history at $374.4 million, the Mets have to pay an extra $101 million in luxury tax to MLB, the highest ever.

Any team with a payroll above $233 million is assessed a luxury tax by MLB. And what did that $475 million get the Mets? A 75-87 record, fourth place in the National League East and manager Buck Showalter’s job.

In contrast, the Cincinnati Reds’ payroll was $83.6 million, 26th of the 30 teams, good for an 82-80 record and third place in the National League Central. And no luxury tax.

—QUOTE: From former New York Mets manager Casey Stengel when his team lost 120 games: “The only thing worse than a Mets game is a Mets doubleheader.”

—DOUBLING UP: When Roy Campanella played for the Baltimore Elite Giants in the Negro League, he once caught four games in one day. . .and he did it right in this area.

He caught an early day doubleheader in Cincinnati, then caught a twi-night doubleheader in Middletown.

And he claims he once caught six games in one day during three doubleheaders in winter ball. Now how is there time in one day for three baseball games, unless they are played in Alaska.

What can be proved by accurate records is that Campanella caught 100 or more games in nine straight seasons for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

—QUOTE: From Ty Cobb, who gave out more spike wounds than compliments: “No man has ever been a perfect ball player. Stan Musial, however, is the closest to being perfect as there is in the game today.” (And Tyrus Raymond Cobb was as close as anybody, along with Roberto Clemente.)

—FLAK FROM FLACCO: You want to talk about a love-hate relationship. When Joe Flacco flung pass receptions against the Cleveland Browns while playing for the Baltimore Ravens, my feelings for him began with a capital H.

Now that the soon-to-be 39-year-old Flacco is playing pitch and catch for the Browns, my feelings for him begins with a capital L.

Was Sunday special, or was it special? What was it the Church Lady used to say on Saturday Night Live? “Well, isn’t that special?”

During Cleveland’s 36-22 win over Houston, Flacco completed 27 of 42 passes for 368 yards and three touchdowns. Placekicker Dustin Hopkins was injured early in the game and the Browns had no back-up. So they went for it on six fourth downs and Flacco converted them four times.

And Amari Cooper caught 11 passes for a club-record 265 yards and two touchdowns.

—17 EQUALS PORSCHE: This is what you can do when somebody gives you $700 million. When the Los Angeles Dodgers signed relief pitcher Joe Kelly to a one-year $8 milliion contract, they issued him uniform number 17.

Then they signed Shohei Ohtani to that $700 million deal, enough for Ohtani to buy everything on Rodeo Drive. Ohtani wore ’17’ with the Los Angeles Angels and wanted to wear it with the Dodgers.

Kelly said OK, he’d give it up. To show his appreciation, Ohtani gave Kelly’s wife a new Porsche.

What? Kelly couldn’t afford to buy his wife a new Porsche on $8 million?

—HURTS SO BAD: San Antonio’s 7-foot-4 rookie Victor Wembeyama stepped on a ball boy’s foot during the pre-game lay-up line, rolled his ankle, and couldn’t play.

Bizarre? How about these?

^^^Former Cincinnati outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. broke his throwing hand while wrestling with his son, Trey. (Did WWF offer Trey a pro wrestling contract?)

^^^Baltimore outfieler Marty Cordova missed a game after burning himself in a tanning bed. (What? He didn’t get enough sun standing in the outfield?)

^^^Detroit relief pitcher Joel Zumaya missed three playoff games with wrist and forearm inflammation from playing too much of the video game ‘Guitar Hero.’ (He would have been better served playing a real guitar.)

^^^Jacksonville punter Chris Hanson missed the entire season after he gashed his leg swinging an ax in the locker room. (He failed his Paul Bunyon imitation act.)

^^^NHL goalie Glenn Healy cut himself, not on a skate, but while changing the bag on bagpipes. (He should have stuck with just trying on a kilt.)

^^^Pitcher Trevor Bauer injured his pinkie finger while repairing a drone. (Did he need a drone to steal signs?)

^^^Milwaukee pitcher Steve Sparks tore a cartilage trying to tear the Millwaukee phone book in half. (He should have tried tearing the Smallvillle telephone book.)

^^^Pitcher Brian Anderson, a Wright State University product, checked to see if an iron was hot enough and placed it against his cheek. It was. Too hot. (Did he know a dry cleaner was just down the street?)

^^^Outfielder Glenallen Hill was dreaming about spiders, leaped out of bed crashed through a glass table and spent 20 days on the injured list with cuts and bruises all over his body. (Arachnophobia can be hazardous to your batting average.)

—BIGGER LOSERS: So the NBA’s Detroit Pistons have lost 26 straight. Big deal.

You want real losers. You’ve come to the right place.

From 1996 until 2007, Caltech lost 207 straight college basketball games before beating Bard College, 81-52, in an NCAA Division III game. At least that win was a blowout.

And the Prairie View A&M football team lost 80 straight from 1989 to 1998. On September 12, 1998, in front of 9,552 fans, the Division 1-AA Panthers won a squeaker over Langston, 14-12, ending the losing streak. For the year? They were 1-10.

In the NFL, the Chicago Cardinals (now the Arizona Cardinals), lost 29 straight from 1943 to 1945. Ending the streak was sweet, a 16-7 victory over inter-city rival the Chicago Bears. But the Bears came back to beat the Cardinals, 28-20, in the last game of the season and the Cardinals finished 1-and-9.

MLB’s longest losing streak is owned by the Philadelphia Phillies, 23 straight in 1961. The Cincinnati Reds won the ’61 National League pennant, aided greatly by the fact they won the first 19 games against the Phillies and finished 20-2 against the Phutile, Pheeble Philllies.

The NHL? The Washington Capitals lost 17 straight in 1975 before putting the Chicago Blackhawks on ice, 7-5. The Capitals were awful all season with a record of 11-59-10.
—PLAYLIST NO. 2: Another list of songs I listened to on my cellphone while watching a meaningless bowl game with the sound down (And can you tell I’ve been in a nostalgic mood?).

I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight (Cutting Crew), Cryin’ (Roy Orbison), Can’t Fight This Feeling (REO Speedwagon), Faithfully (Journey), Just What I Needed (The Cars), Everything I Do, I Do It For You (Bryan Adams), Two Out of Three (Meat Loaf), Trilogy (Elvis Presley), The Wonder of You (Elvis Presley), If You Leave Me Now
Chicago), Can’t Help Fallling in Love With You (Elvis Presley), Maybe I’m Amazed (Paul McCartney).

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