OBSERVATIONS: Mostly About Baseball. . .But Other Stuff, Too

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave as the excitement and anticipation mounts. . .real baseball Saturday — Reds versus Guardians. And now that I have watched the movie ‘Major League,’ my yearly pre-season ritual, it is time to play ball.

And let’s start this segment with some stuff from Mr. Baseball, Bob Uecker.

I thought I’d heard every self-deprecating story former catcher Bob Uecker had to tell on himself — like the time he hit a grand slam and the opposing manager, “Not only came out to take out the pitcher but he brought the pitcher’s suitcase with him.”

Or the time he came up to bat in the bottom of ninth, his team down, 2-1, two outs, bases-loaded, 3-and-2 count, “And I looked in the other team’s dugout and all their players were dressed in their street clothes.”

And he always said, “Yes, I had endorsements. Sporting goods companies paid me not to endorse their stuff.”

Then I heard him tell another one I hadn’t heard about him getting invited back to participate in old-timer’s games. “I haven’t lost a thing,” he said. “I sit in the bullpen and let the fans throw junk at me. Just like old times.”

—IT WAS BUCK’S: Everybody knows it was Hall of Famer Ernie Banks who always said, “It’s a beautiful day, let’s play two.”

Ernie, right? Well, yes, he said it all the time. But he admitted that he stole it. It was something that Negro League legend Buck O’Neill said and Banks ‘borrowed it.’

Ernie even said it before spring exhibtion games. . .and meant every word.

—DOWN GOES VANDY: The University of Dayton basketball team isn’t the only UD athletic entity making noise.

The Flyers baseball team traveled to Nashville Saturday and upset No. 6-ranked Vanderbilt, 8-5, with a seven-run eruption in the eighth inning.

Red-shirt sophomore outfielder Alejandro Cazorla, a native of Okotoka, Alberta, Canada, went 3-foor-3 with a home run. The Flyers were down, 5-1, entering the eighth and Cazorla started the rally with a single, then doubled in the same inning to drive in the winning runs.

It was UD’s first win over a Top Ten team since a win over LSU in 1996.

—MISUNDERSTANDING?: It was the most disrespectul display ever enacted on the UD Arena floor last Saturday before the University of Dayton-Fordham basketball game.

As the Flyers lined up on for the Nationaal Anthem and the color guard marched toward center court, the Fordham team burst through UD’s line for some last-second dunks. Then as the Star Spangled Banner was being played by the UD pep band, the Fordham players were slapping palms and dancing.

It prompted a letter from UD fan Rosie Drummer Miller to Fordham athletic director Edward Kull and it prompted a return letter from Kull:

“Thank you for your messager. On behalf of Fordham University and the men’s basketball team, I apologize for the disruption caused during Saturday’s Presentation of Colors and the national anthem.

“I’ve been in touch with Neil Sulllivan, University of Dayton’s athletic director, the A10 Conference and officials, and we’re all in agreement that Saturday’s incident is a result of a misunderstanding and poor timing as teams transitioned from warm-ups to the national anthem.

“This is certainly a teaching moment for our student athletes. Honoring fallen heros, veterans, active military personnel and our nation during the presentation of colors and the national anthem should never be interrupted.

“Thank you for reaching out to share your concern. Ed Kull.”

Misunderstanding? What’s to misunderstand? The only part of misunderstand that is relevant is the ‘stand’ part of the word. . .stand and be respectful.

The Fordham team was its best behavior Tuesday at Davidson during pre-game festivities, then took a 68-53 beating.

—WSU’S TWO-TIMERS: For a team that is only 15-12, 8-5 at home and fourth place in the Horizon League, Wright State is worthy of attention.

Not only are they the second best shooting team in the country at 58.6%, the Raiders are the only Division I team in the USofA with two 2,000-point career scorers on its roster.

Trey Calvin is at 2,047 and Tanner Holden is at 2,011. Now if the Raiders only could learn that defense is more than a seven-letter word in the dictionary.

—YES, VIRGINIA? UH, NO: The state’s slogan is, “Virginia is for lovers.” Oh, yeah? Well, the University of Dayton basketball team must not be lovers.

Fortunately they don’t have to go back there again this seaason. The Flyers have played three games in Virginia and lost all three — Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth and George Mason.

They could have scheduled the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Virginia Union, Virginia Military, Old Dominin, Liberty, Willliam & Mary, James Madison or even Hampton.

—TIME’S NOT ON YOUR SIDE: This one is no surprise to me as I watch commercial after commercial after commercial flash on my TV screen during NFL games.

If you subtract huddles, replay/reviews, commercials and halftime, there is actually only 18 minutes of real action in the average NFL game that takes three hours to play.

—SQUEEZING THE BENJAMINS: The four most notable free agents still looking for employment are Cody Bellinger, Matt Chapman, Jordan Montgomery and Blake Snell. What does this Baseball Fab Four have in common?

It is not a surprise. They are all represented by agent Scott Boras, who would squeeze Benjamin Franklin’s picture off a 100 dollar bill.

—NEED AN ASSIST?: Ask this question to the most avid NBA fan and they won’t get it. What’s the most unlikely record that won’t be broken?

Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game? Nope.

Bill Russell’s 11 championship rings? Nope.

The LA Lakers’ 30 wins in a row? Nope.

It is a record set by Orlando Magics point guard Scott Skiles. In a game in 1990 Skiles recorded 30 assists. It won’t be broken because nobody in the NBA these days makes that many passes.

—SOME BIG NEWS: With all the things happening in spring training, what makes ESPN and the wire services about the Cincinnati Reds?

A broken window? Yep.

The Reds were taking live batting practice under blue skies and puffy white clouds at their Goodyear, AZ., spring training complex.

It was Hunter Greene pitching and Elly De La Cruz batting. De La Cruz fouled one out of the park and a ker-thunk was heard.

A car window had been hit and everybody laughed and giggled. . .everybody but Greene. It was his car. There was no report on the make and model of Greene’s SUV, but rest assured it was not a Ford Focus.


From Rogers Hornsby: People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I stare out the window waiting for spring.”

From Dave Winfield: “These days you go to spring training to get your legs ready, your arm loose and get your agent and lawyer lined up.”

From author William Zinsser: “The sound of the bat is the music of spring training.”

From country singer Steve Earle: I love baseball. I’ll probably end up one of those old farts who go to spring training every day and drive from game to game all day.”

From Christy Mathewspm: “A young ballplayer looks on his first spring training as a stage struck young woman regards the theatre.”

From pitcher Curt Schilling: “Before I pitch any game, from spring training to Game 7 of the World Series, I’m scared to death.”

From pitcher Jim Palmer: “I’ve been doing Orioles fundamentals forever and do them in my sleep. I hate spring training.”

From Torii Hunter: “Spring training is for getting to know your teammates and forming a chemistry. I don’t like it.”

—PLAYLIST NO. 22: From the far reaches of my iPod:

The Boys Of Summer (Don Henley), Kentucky Woman (Neil Diamond), Mr. Tambourine Man (The Byrds), I Just Called To Say I Love You (Stevie Wonder), End Of The World (Anne Murray), All Out Of Love (Air Supply), Sweet Baby James (James Taylor).

Time Is On My Side (Rolling Stones), Everybody Is Somebody’s Fool (Connie Francis), We Don’t Need Another Hero (Tina Turner), She Loves You (The Beatles), Forever My Darling (Aaron Neville), Breathe Again (Toni Braxton), The Air That I Breathe (The Hollies).Dream On (Aerosmith).

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