OBSERVATIONS: Why is Montras Starting On Opening Day?

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, getting the silent treatment from Nadine because my alma mater, No. 8-seeded Kent State, upset her alma mater, No. 1 seeded Toledo, 65-59, in the MAC tournament. Hey, sweetheart, it wasn’t my fault that Tooley-Do could not throw the ball into Lake Superior from the deck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

—YOU COMPLETE ME: Another amazing factoid from Jeff Singleton (I’m all out of blank checks, Jeff):

LA’s Clayton Kershaw is acknowledged as one of the best pitchers throwing strikes these days. For his career, Kershaw has 25 complete games.

Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals had 25 complete games in one season. When somebody was brave enough to try to take him out of a game, Gibson would afix them with his death stare and say, “You’ll have to have a Magnum .357 to pry this baseball from my dead right hand.”

And while we’re babbling about pitching, is Frankie Montas the right guy to pitch Opening Day in the great American pastime at Great American Ball Park for the Cincinnati Reds?

The guy has appeared in exactly nine MLB games the past two seasons, 1 1/3 innings last season, and so far this spring has done a credible job of impersonating a batting practice machine.

In three appearances he has given up eight runs and 12 hits over 7 1/3 innings, a 9.39 earned run average. Sure, it is only spring training, but. . .

—YAKETY-YAK: MLB took a poll of players to discover who are the most friendly infielders, guys who talk to the opponents when they are on base.

The winner was the always smiling first baseman, Freddie Freeman and second was Francisco Lindor.

While with the Cincinnati Reds, first baseman Joey Votto tied for fifth with Paul Goldschmidt and Ozzie Albies.

One thing is certain. If Sean Casey still played, he would win in a landslide. The Mayor could carry on a conversation with a pogo stick.

—WHAT’S THE HITCH?: Baseball players getting married at home plate before a game and walking under crossed bats held by teammates is not uncommon, almost a cliche.

But there was one back in the day talked about by former Cincinnati Reds infielder Don Hoak that was uncommon.

While he was playing for the Fort Worth Cats in the old Texas League, he and three teammates got hitched at home plate before a game. Four teammates muttering their vows at the same time.

“Then we went out and tried to play a game,” saId Hoak. We lost to the Tulsa Drillers and the four of us combined for four errors.”

—QUICK RECOVERY ACT: Chris Holtmann, fired mid-season as Ohio State basketball coach, quickly landed on his feet. . .well, maybe one foot.

Perhaps anxious to take the first job offered, he accepted the position at DePaul, not exactly college basketball’s Garden of Eden.

DePaul hasn’t been relevant since the 1980s
under Hall of Fame coach Ray Meyer and the Blue Demons played in a gym just slightly bigger than a study hall.

DePaul now plays in 10,000-seat state of the art Wintrust Arena, with 400 club seats and 22 suites, so Holtmann has the facility.

But can he recruit to a school in a shady and shaky part of inner-city Chicago? And he must compete for players with Loyola Chicago, Northwestern and even Ilinois.

Holtmann’s replaced at Ohio State on an interim period is assistant coach Jake Diebler. Suddenly, the Buckeyes were engaged and engaging. They won six of their last eight and took Illinois to the final buzzer before losing in the Big Ten tournament.

There is a groundswell to remove the interiim label and give the job to Diebler. Bad idea. He hasn’t paid his dues, hasn’t been a head coach anywhere. The OSU job is high octane, high profile and needs a name coach who has earned his props and chops

—SACK ATTACK: Defensive tackle Aaron Donald is retiring after 10 years of mayhem with the Los Angeles Rams. And Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyle Murray is dancing in the desert because of it.

During Donald’s career, he sacked Murray seven times, so upon Donald’s retirement Murray posted two words on social media: “Thank God!”

—SOME FLACCO FLAK: A large portion of Cleveland Browns fandom are ready to jump into Lake Erie because their team let Joe Flacco go. The 40-year-old quarterback signed a one-year deal with the Indianapolis Colts.

Flacco became near-legendary when quarterback DeShaun Watson was injured and the Browns signed him. And he was two steps above sensational.

But Watson will be back with his contract larger than the gross national product of Chile, so the Browns are committed to him, even though many fans dislike him because of his excess baggage.

With the Browns hog-tied with Watson, it is probably best to let Flacco go. If he stayed, there would be a constant quarterback controversy, even inside the Browns locker room because Flacco became extremely popular with a large segment of the players.

So the Browns signed Jameis Winston as the back-up, a guy who once threw 33 interceptions in one season.

—WHO ARE YOU, WHO, WHO?: I was toweling myself off at a court-side tennis court at a Miami Beach hotel after playingf a couple of sets with former University of Dayton athletic director Tom Frericks, the man who brought the University of Dayton Arena into reality.

As I got up to leave a man approached and said, “That young lady down there wants to know if you’ll hit some ball with her.” I looked her way and saw a gorgeous blonde in a short white tennis skirt.

“Of course,” I said. She said her name but I didn’t catch it. We hit for about an hour and then she thanked me and left.

A few months later, I was seated in a movie theatre to watch ‘The Heartbreak Kid.’ And I saw her. She wasn’t in a seat munching Good ’N Plentys. She was on the screen.

It was Cybill Shepherd.

I was in a Denver hotel, traveling with the Cincinnati Reds. I stepped into an elevator and there was one person in it. She was, as they say, drop dead gorgeous. We never said a word and I later wanted to kick myself in the posterior for not striking up a conversation.

The next day I picked up a copy of the Rocky Mountain New and her picture was on the front page.

It was Sandra Bulllock.

—QUALITY QUOTES: Out of the mouths of babes. . .and we don’t mean Babe Ruth:

From former Reds manager Sparky Anderson: “You don’t have to be a Harvard professor to be a baseball manager. In fact, you are better off having an IQ like mine.”

From Sparky Anderson (again): “I dont know why players make such a fuss about wanting to sit in first class on our flights. Do they think they’ll get there faster?”

From Hall of Famer and extreme optimist Ernie Banks on the Chicago Cubs ineptitude: “Good things come to those who wait. . .and wait and wait and wait and wait.”

From former DH John Lowenstein on how he stayed ready between at bats: “I flush the toilet between innings to keep my wrists strong.”

From Richie Ashburn when Houston played outdoors before the Astrodome was built: “Houston is the only town where women wear insect repellent instead of perfume.”

From the world of golf and Hall of Famer Sam Snead when he first saw the young Jack Nicklaus when there was a debate over who was bigger, Nicklaus or the Goodyear blimp: “Jack Nicklaus looks as thought he might be two good golfers.”
—PLAYLIST NO. 31: Who knew there are so many great songs. . .and I didn’t until I began this long and winding road:

After All (Peter Cetera & Cher), Up Where We Belong (Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warren), What A Feeling (Flashdance), Diggy, Diggy Lo (Doug Kershaw), Stuck On You (Lionel Richie), One Night With You (Elvis Presley), Forever My Darling (Aaron Neville), Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan).

God Only Knows (Beach Boys), How Do You Talk To An Angel (The Heights), Right Here Waiting For You (Richard Marx), Love Story (Taylor Swift), Until I Found You (Stephen Sanchez), Faithful (Lobo) Edge Of Seventeen (Stevie Nix).,

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