OBSERVATIONS: Atlantic 10 Coaches Give Holmes The Hose

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, overdosing so much on college basketball that I wonder if it’s Notre Forest against Wake Dame or George Bonaventure against St. Mason. Or is it Sam International against Florida Houston?

—A ‘CO’ WHAT?: Give me a break. Give me two breaks. What were they thinking? Clearly, they were not thinking clearly.

The Atlantic 10 coaches voted to give the University of Dayton’s DaRon Holmes II the Co-Player of the Year. Co?

These are the same coaches, all 14 of them, who make certain that when Holmes possesses the basketball, there are two and many times three defenders chopping and hacking away at Holmes’ bruised body.

It is a wonder Holmes still has two functioning arms.

Holmes shares the award with Richmond guard Jordan King, a nice player, but one who wouldn’t know a double-team from a double play or a double scoop of chocolate chip.

Holmes is on the short list for the John Wooden NATIONAL Player of the Year and is third favorite on the Kenpom web-site for NATIONAL Player of the Year.

And yet in his own league he has to share the award with a player whose name isn’t on any list for NATIONAL Player of the Year.

They should give Holmes, who was named the Atlantic 10’s Defensive Player of the Year, another award. . .The Rodney Dangerfield No Respect Award.

—CALL THE PLUMMER: Another good one left us this week.

Bill Plummer, who spent his time in Cincinnati as Johnny Bench’s back-up catcher, passed away at age 74.

And as Bench’s back-up, he had the same amount of work as the old Maytag repairman. He seldom played, even though he was an outstanding defensive player with a bullet train arm.

With not much playing time, Plummer began accompanying me to tennis courts in every city on the road. I ‘taught’ him how to play and he displayed his athleticism by quickly becoming relatively good.

His serve was like his arm, close to the speed of light. One day I placed a tennis ball can in a corner of the service box and told him, “Try to hit it.”

Hit it? He hit it all right on the first try. . .and bent the can in half.

And he knew the game. . .baseball. He later became manager of the Seattle Mariners for one season.

His career average was only .188, but his special day came during a 1974 game in Philadelphia. He hit two home runs off Hall of Famer Steve Carlton.

“I’ve often wondered how Plummer would do if he got to play every day for two months,” said Pete Rose. “He’s a physical fitness nut and if hard work means anything he woud do all right.”

—A ROSE IS A ROSE: Speaking of Pete Rose, there have been enough books written about him to fill a small town library.

There is another coming out this month and it is the definitive work on baseball’s most fascinating subject. It is called — what else? — Charlie Hustle.

It is written by award-winning journalist and author Keith O’Brien, who seemingly talked to and intervied every person who could spell Pete Rose. And it is reseached so incredibly deep that his Notes and Research credits take 76 pages in the back of the book and the bibliography/index covers 25 more pages.

The well-written jump-off-the-pages words give a well-balanced Good Pete Rose, Bad Pete Rose accounting.

And there is a plethora of stuff that has not appeared anywhere, including all those other Pete Rose books. This one hits the book shelves later this month.

I could not recommend it any higher, a definite can’t-put-it-down book, as solid as a Pete Rose head-first slide.

—PITCH GOOD, STILL LOSE: As we all know, baseball is mostly about pitching, pitching and more pitching. And did we mention pitching?

With that in mind, Nolan Ryan pitched seven no-hitters and never won a Cy Young. Roger Clemens never pitched a no-hitter and won seven Cy Youngs.

And how about Steve Carlton for the 1972 Philadelphia Phillies? He was 27-10 with 30 complete games. The Phillies won 59 games that year.

Ryan lost 16 games for the 1987 Houston Astros with a 2.76 earned run average and 270 strikeouts in 211 innings. But in 34 starts he had zero complete games.

Also in 1972, 22-year-old Bert Blyleven lost 17 games with the Minnesota Twins with a 2.73 ERA. He also won 17.

The old St. Louis Browns were notoriously awful, near-perfect squatters in last place in the American League. Yet in 1951, when the Browns were 52-102, Ned Garver was 20-12 with a 3.73 ERA and 24 complete games.

Roger Craig was a noted pitching coach guru, the godfather of the split-fingered fastball. For him, it was, “Do as I say, not as I did.”

He pitched the first two seasons for the expansion Les Miserable Mets. In 1962 he was 10-24 and in 1963 he was 5-22. But in those two seasons he completed 27 games.

—QUOTE: Some of those guys subscribed to what Sparky Anderson once told me: “The best way to get back on your feet is to get off your ass.”

—THE BRONX WINNERS: The New York Yankees haven’t been The Evil Empire as they once were. Their last two World Series triumphs came in 2009 and 2000.

Despite that, the Yankees incredibly have had 31 straight winning seasons. The closest to them? The Los Angeles Dodgers, The Evil Empire of the West, with 13.

The Cincinnati Reds? One.

—HE WAS A REAL PAYNE: Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it goes south, south of the border.

It seems a good idea when colleges hire their own former player to coach their team. And it was a super idea for the University of Dayton to hire former UD player Anthony Grant.

It was not so fortuitous for Louisville to hire Kenny Payne, even though as a player he helped UofL win a national title.

Payne was fired this week after only two years, two years during which he went 12-52 overall and 5-35 in the ACC.

The record was bad enough, but some of those losses were to Appalachian State, Bellarmine, Lipscomb, Wright Staate, Chattanooga and DePaul. And they were at home in Yum! Center, where the 20,000 seats mostly were occupied by cushions.

And the most unbelievable factor of all. . .during his two seasons, UofL won exactly one road game. One. And we all know that one is the loneliest number.

—BARRY, BARRY GOOD: It is so frustrating watching NBA games. Those guys travel so much on the court they should carry Samsonite suitcases in one arm.

With that thought, I loved what former ABA/NBA superstar Rick Barry said.

“Stop the traveling, stop the carrying (of the ball), stop the moving screens,” he said. “Call the damn game according to the rulebook.”

—A HIGH SCORE: A British bloke attended his first baseball game at Yankee Stadium and left early when the scoreboard read:

Visitors: 100 000 0
Yankees: 100 000 0

A kid outside the stadium asked, “What’s the score?”

Said the bloke, “I don’t know, but it is reaching over a million.”

—Quality Quotes: What they said, but who knows why:

From former California Angels manager Lefty Phillips during a bad season: “Our phenoms aren’t phenominating.”

From controversial Bill Veeck, who at different times owned the Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Browns and Chicago White Sox, when asked what he would do if he were named baseball commissioner: “Resign immediately.”

From former baseball commissioner Happy Chandler on his successor, Ford Frick: “He slept longer than Rip Van Winkle.”

From former player Jim Gantner on missing a team function: “I must have had Ambrosia.”

From former pitcher Mark Langston on how he liked pitching in Montreal: “It’s like a foreign city.”

From former player Mike Lieberthal: “I was only going about three-fourths speed or maybe 75 per cent.”

—PLAYLIST NO. 30: Still listening after all these years:

The Mighty Quinn (Manfred Mann), Alone Again, Naturally (John Kevin Garcia), Pledging My Love (Elvis Presley), Born To Be Alive (Patrick Hernandez), Telephone Line (ELO), Hello Darlin’ (Conway Twitty), If You Leave Me Now (Chicago), Let Your Love Flow (Bellamy Brothers), Piano Man (Billy Crystal).

The Air That I Breathe (The Hollies), Don’t Stop (Fleetwood Mac), Easy (The Commodores), A White Sport Coat And A Pink Carnation (Sonny James), Band On The Run (Wings), If You Could Read My Mind (Gordon Lightfoot), Knowing Me, Knowing You (Abba), Make It With You (Bread).

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