By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, now down 45 pounds, but hard to resist forbidden fruits while stuck indoors with the refrigerator door within reach.
—A POWER PURGE?: When it comes to kneejerk reactions, the jerk part seems to fit Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam. His meddling hand prints are all over the shocking coaching purge this week.
The Browns (Haslam) fired offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, running backs coach Stump Mitchell and tight ends coach T.C. McCartney.
First of all, head coach Kevin Stefanski calls all the plays, not Van Pelt. And the offense was burdened with five different starting quarterbacks, lost running back Nick Chubb and three-fourths of the offensive line.
And Mitchell was not given adequate back-up backs when Chubb went down. The running game was practically non-existent after Chubb’s injury. That’s Mitchell’s fault?Certainly McCartney was instrumental in the development of tight end David Njoku.
Mix in all the injuries in the defensive backfield and it was a gridiron miracle the Browns made the playoffs out of the AFC North, arguably the toughest division in the NFL.
Yes, they laid a football-sized egg in the playoffs, but that certainly wasn’t reason enough to make Van Pelt, Mitchell and McCartney quick scapegoats. It is surprising that Stefanski survived, even though he probably will be NFL Coach of the Year.
—HOMEWARD BOUND: Question to a close friend:
“Who drove the guys home after the Browns soiled the field against the Texans?”
Close friend: “The drunkest.”
He was kidding. Nobody drove. They all lived nearby and staggered home, mutter and mumbling one word, “Stroud.”
—FOOTBALL FOLLIES: Speaking of disappointments. how about them-there Eagles. . .and we don’t mean the singing group of Already Gone, Desperado, Heartache Tonight and Lyin’ Eyes.
All those songs certainly fit the Philadelphia Eagles. They began the season 10-1, then lost six of their last seven, including their first-round playoff game, 27-10, to the New York Giants.
The one Singing Eagles song that doesn’t fit the Football Eagles is ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling.’
Prediction: Eagles coach Nick Siranni won’t soon will be standing in the unemployment line with several other recently dismissed NFL coaches. He will survive, although fickle Philly fans, who probably used to boo Ben Franklin, probably boo him when he is spotted at Wegman’s grocery.
And is it easier to cheat in the NFL than in college football? Doubt it.
But Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, NCAA championship trophy in hand, has talked/interviewed with the Los Angeles Chargers and Atlanta Falcons.
Prediction II: With nothing more to prove in the college world, Harbaugh will take an NFL job. Additional incentive to bolt Ann Arbor? The NCAA penalties certain to fall down around Harbaugh’s shoe tops.
—QUOTE: From new New England Patriots new head coach Jerod Mayo: “I’m not trying to be Bill Belichick. Bill is his own man. If you can’t tell by now, I’m a little bit different.” (As far as the media are concerned, no sweeter words entered their ears after dealing with the taciturn Belichick.)
—A LOVE AFFAIR: One of my favorite things to do is to walk into and witness a basketball game in the University of Dayton Arena, whether as a spectator or as a journalist.
It is not so much an arena as it is a basketball cathedral. For UD fans, basketball is a religion.
UD basketball and the arena is part of the chemistry and the fabric of the City of Dayton and the entire 937 area code.
A game there isn’t just a game, it’s a family outing, the place to be. You might as well call it a town meeting.
These thoughts came to me as I sat court-side Tuesday night after finishing David Jablonski’s excellent book on UD Arena, ‘The Epicenter of College Basketball.’ Indeed, it is.
—QUOTATION DEVICES: Some favorite baseball quotes I’ve collected over five decades of baseball writing. And the first three I actually witnessed and wrote.
My all-time favorite is this one from former Reds manager Dave Bristol after his team played miserably: “There will be two buses leaving the hotel for the park tomorrow. The two o’clock bus will be for those of you who need extra work. The empty bus will leave at five o’clock.”
And this one from Reds pitcher Steve Foster when a Canadian customs agent asked if he had another to declare: “Yes, sir. I’m proud to be an American.”
And another from Dusty Baker concerning pitcher Bob Gibson: “The only two people I felt intimidated by in my whole life were Bob Gibson and my daddy.”
—From relief pitcher Sparky Lyle: “Why pitch nine innings when you can pitch one and be just as famous.”
—From Hall of Famer Ernie Banks: “My ultimate dream is to own my own bank in Paris. I’d call it Banks’ Bank on The Left Bank.”
—From Hall of Fame shortstop Peewee Reese: “If I had my career to play over, one thing I’d do differently is swing more. Those 1,200 walks I got. . .nobody remembers them.”
—From former Reds infielder Rocky Bridges: “There are three things the average man thinks he can do better than anybody else — build a fire, run a hotel and manage a baseball team.”
—From former Yankee Graig Nettles: “The best thing about being a Yankee is getting to watch Reggie Jackson play every day. The worst thing about being a Yankee is getting to watch Reggie Jackson play every day.”
—From umpire Ron Luciano: “One reason I never calle balks was that I never understood the rule.”
—From Reggie Jackson on facing Nolan Ryan: “You don’t face Nolan Ryan without your rest. He’s the only guy I face who makes me go to bed before midnight.”
—From pitcher Jim Kern: “I’m working on a new pitch. It’s called strike.”
—Former outfielder Bob Watson on hard-throwing pitching teammate J.R. Richard: “I’ve never taken batting practice against him and I never will. I have a family to think of.”
—From former pitcher Lefty Grove: “I was the worst hitter ever. I never even broke a bat until I backed out of my driveway.”
—From Buck Martinez: “There were times when people looked at the scoreboard and thought my batting average was the temperature.”
(If you like these, I have more for the next blog).
—PLAYLIST NO. 10: And the beat goes on:
Making Love Out Of Nothing At All (Abba), Uptown Girl (Billy Joel), Night Moves (Bob Seger), Angels Of The Morning (Juice Newton), American Pie (Don McLean), Take It To The Limit (The Eagles), Suspicious Minds (Elvis Presley), Same Old Song (Four Tops), Walk Away Renee (Left Bank).
Runaway (Del Shannon), Crimson And Clover (Tommy James & The Shondells), Paint It Black (Rolling Stones), Wouldn’t It Be Nice (Beach Boys),