OBSERVATIONS: When the Reds were ‘Schott’ from guns

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, still groaning from stuffing myself all weekend with cookies, shrimp, M&Ms (peanuts, of course), wrapped weenies, chocolate buckeyes, lasagna, whole tenderloin (no, I didn’t eat it all), twice baked potatoes, apple pie, ice cream, coffee cake. . .and it’s a good thing Nadine kept the dog food away from me.

—SCHOTT HIM DOWN: Without a doubt, the last Cincinnati Reds owner to display an affinity for winning was Marge Schott. She put her money where her mouth was and enabled her general managers to spend, when necessary.

On the other hand, she was known to squeeze a nickel until the Buffalo squealed.

In a previous Observations, I mentioned that Plant City Stadium and the complex where the Reds trained during the Schott Regime was a step below Attica Prison.

Larry Starr, one of the best athletic trainers in baseball and one of my daily tennis partners on the road, offered up what it was like for him.

“Our lovely lady owner (I refuse to say her name) cut and slashed everything I wanted in the athletic training area. She eliminated the strength training room, took away any storage, didn’t paint the walls or finished the ceiling.

“In addition, as I think you know, she did not have any hot water, except in the shower, which included the whirlpool area. So Attica was a great description.”

And it was Schott who pushed most of the team’s scouts out the back door and said, “Why do we need scouts? All they do is watch ball games.”

—QUOTE: From former Reds owner Marge Schott, showing she did know a little bit about baseball: “I don’t like the designated hitter. A guy who plays should be able to catch and hit.” (I think GM Jim Bowden fed her that line.)

—THE EAGLES SING: Have you heard the new Eagles Christmas album? And I don’t mean Don Henley’s Eagles of Hotel California and Desperado fame.

I mean the Philadelphia Eagles. For some reason, I always had a disdain for those Eagles, until this Christmas. Several members of the Eagles football team put out a Christmas album, ‘A Philly Special Christmas.’ And proceeds go to Philadelphia charities and at last count it raised $250,000.

Those Eagles still play football better than they sing, but they’ve won me over. They’ve given me a peaceful, easy feeling.

—‘SUPER BOWL,’ 1950: Speaking of the Philadelphia Eagles, they won the NFL championships in 1948 and 1949. After the 1949 season, the rival All-America Football Conference disbanded after four seasons.

The Cleveland Browns won all four AAFC titles and the NFL absorbed three AAFC teams. . .the Browns, San Francisco 49ers, the Baltimore Colts.

The NFL decided to teach the Browns a lesson and for the 1950 season opener they scheduled the Browns against the Eagles.

It could have been called the first Super Bowl. During their two championship seasons, the Eagles held their opponents to seven or fewer points in 14 of their 26 games.

A crowd of 71,237 showed up at old Philadelphia Municipal Stadium. Before that, the Eagles’ biggest crowd was 38,230 The Associated Press called the showdown, “The most talked-of game in the National Football League’s history.

Cocky Eagles coach Greasy Neale said the game was going to be high school boys against the pros.

“It was the Game of the Century,” said Eagles backup quarterback Bill Mackrides. “There was a lot of animosity. There had been a lot of talking back and forth for years. It was like the Red Sox vs. Yankees.”

Final score: Cleveland Browns 35, Philadelphia Eagles 10.

I was 10-years-old and listened to the game on Akron radio station WAKR, not realizing that I was listening to pro football history. . .I just loved Paul Brown, Otto Graham, Mac Speedie, Dante Lavelli, Marion Motley and Lou Groza.

—QUOTE: From former Cleveland Browns quarterback Otto Graham: “Do not throw in the towel. Use it for wiping the sweat off your face.” (He never threw in the towel, which is why he led the Browns to a 47-4-3 record in four All-America Conference seasons.)

—MAY(FIELD) DAY: Note to the Cleveland Browns: After you all opened your Christmas presents, did you watch the Los Angeles Rams rip apart the Denver Broncos, 51-14?

Did you notice that guy wearing No. 17 and playing quarterback for the Rams? In the first half alone he was 18 for 20 for 185 yards and two touchdowns.

His name is Baker Mayfield. You might remember him. But you have Deshaun Watson, so you don’t miss him. Do you? Just asking for a friend.

And afterwards, Denver coach Nathaniel Hackett was fired. No surprise. His team made him look like Buddy Hackett.

—QUOTE: From Los Angeles Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield, traded by the Cleveland Browns and punted to the curb by the Carolina Panthers: “Everywhere I look, someone is telling me, ‘You’re not good enough,’ or, ‘You can’t do this or that.’ You can only hear that so many times before enough is enough.”

—A UD ESCAPEE: Ever hear of Mike Dabney? He is in the Rutgers University Hall of Fame. He was on the 1976 team that made the Final Four with Indiana, Michigan and UCLA.

Like Indiana, the eventual champion, Rutgers was unbeaten entering the Final Four, but lost to Michigan. Dabney, a 6-4 guard, averaged 19 points, 4 rebounds and 3.5 assists.

Now for the rest of the story, as Dabney told it on an hour-long ESPN special on Dick Vitale.

Said Dabney, “I was all set to go to the University of Dayton. But Dick Vitale was an assistant at Rutgers and was so insistent and persistent that I went to Rutgers.”

As we all know, Vitale could sell audio to a deaf person.

UD was 14-13 that season and sure could have used Dabney.

After Rutgers, the vivacious Vitale became head coach at the University of Detroit and coach of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons before he became ESPN’s iconic college basketball analyst.

The first two times I was with Vitale I never spoke to him. I didn’t want to interrupt him. And he was worth the listen. He knows basketball like Busch knows beer.

—QUOTE: From basketball icon Dick Vitale: “Twelve for 23. . .it doesn’t take a genius to see that’s under 50 percent.” (Dickie V. knows basketball Xs and Os, so we’ll give him a pass on math.)

—FUN FACT: In fact, an amazing fact. When the Cincinnati Bengals beat the New England Patriots, 22-18, it was the first time in NFL history that a game’s score was 22-18.

When there is a score is that has never happened before It is called a scorigami. The 22-18 score was the 1,065th different score combination in NFL history,

—WHAT? NO MAIL?: Remember the slogan, “Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail shall keep the postmen from their appointed rounds.” Yeah, right. We received no mail delivery Friday or Saturday. . .and Sunday was Christmas. I am anxiously watching out the window for a Monday delivery. I’m laying odds of 4 to 1 on no delivery. Bad idea. It’s a postal holiday. No mail. . .again.

OBSERVATIONS: A tiny Christmas gift for Reds fans

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, hoping your Christmas stockings are filled with tidings of good joy.

SOME MOVEMENT: Cincinnati Reds general manager Nick Krall appears to be a man of his word. Before the winter meetings early this month, he said the Reds were interested in signing some stop-gap free agents to one-year contracts.

He said those players could use their year in Cincinnati to rejuvenate their careers and move to other teams.

The Reds took that first step Thursday when they signed catcher Curt Casali and first baseman/outfielder Wil Myers to one-year deals. And who spells Will with one ‘l?’

And perhaps most significantly, they rid themselves of underperforming infielder Mike Moustakas by designating him for assignment, which undoubtedly will lead to his release.

Myers agreed to a deal worth $7.5 million, with some incentives. Casali agreed to a deal worth $3.5 million with some incentives. Most of the incentives are pipe dreams.

Casali, 34, was a back-up catcher for the Reds from 2018 to 2020 and could be a valuable piece. He has a solid reputation in handling pitchers and can be a guide dog for young pitchers Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo and Graham Ashcraft.

He split time last season with San Francisco and Seattle and hit .203 with five homers and 17 RBI in 57 games.

Myers, 32, a former star with the San Diego Padres, fell on hard times and the club refused his $20 million club option for 2023. He hit .261 with seven homers and 41 RBI in 77 games last season for the Padres.

Myers was American League Rookie of the Year in 2013, but injuries plagued him the last couple of years. The plan is for him to fill right field.

“Obviously, coming off injuries, you want to come out and re-prove yourself,” Myers told MLB.com. “I’ve had a couple of years that have been a little down, so I want to be able to come out here and give myself a good chance to come out and have a nice year. It’s a great park to hit in and I’m very excited to see what I could do there.”

Moustakas signed a four-year $64 million deal with the Reds and was a monumental bust. He spent considerable time on the injured list last season. He hit .216 with seven homers and 25 RBI in 78 games. It is a costly move for the cash-strapped Reds. They still owe him $22 million.

Those aren’t moves designed to dig the Reds out of the National League Central basement and they won’t have to hire extra help to answer phones in the ticket office. But, well. . .they did do something.

—GOOD OR DECEIVING: There is nothing like false mirrors in college basketball when it comes to glossy records.

Duquesne comes to Dayton next week to open Atlantic 10 Conference play and the Dukes bring a 9-3 record, second best in the A-10. Nifty, huh?

Well, as Lee Corso often says on ESPN’s GameDay, “Not so fast, my friend.” Duquesne has played 11 of its 12 games at home. Its one road game was a 77-52 loss at Kentucky. The Dukes have won three straight coming to Dayton — DePaul, Indiana State and Winthrop, all in Pittsburgh.

The A-10 shocker is Fordham, a team that other A-10 teams usually wipe their sneakers on. The Rams are 12-1. . .again, deceiving. They have played one quality team and lost mammothly, 74-48, at Arkansas. Their noteworthy wins, if one call call them that, are Dartmouth, Maine, Holy Cross, Harvard and at Tulane.

UD is 8-5, with losses to UNLV, Wisconsin, North Carolina State, BYU and Virginia Tech. Duquesne can claim one opponent of that calibre, Kentucky. Fordham’s pre-conference schedule is filled with pushovers.

As one A-10 observer said, “Fordham’s record and Duquesne’s record is pure, unsliced baloney.” (Hey, I love fried baloney sandwiches.)

—POLAR DEPRESSED: If ever the Cleveland Browns enjoyed an advantage, it was Saturday at FirstEnergy Field. It was not only unfit for the Chicago Bears, it was unfit for polar bears.

The opponent was not the Chicago Bears. It was the New Orleans Saints, a team that plays home games indoors at the climate-controlled SuperDome.

The bomb cyclone hit and it wasn’t Nick Chubb. It was something that had the wind chill conditions at 15 below zero. And wind gusts near 50 miles an hour swept in off Lake Erie.

New Orleans coach Dennis Allen tried to downplay it before the game by saying, “It’s going to be cold for everybody. Let’s don’t make too big a deal about it. Let’s go play a game and let’s go try to win, but yet there’s been a lot of advancement in warm-weather gear and the last thing I want is somebody out there looking like the damn Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.”

Was he describing Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson. Of course, it was the Browns who played like stationary snowmen. After grabbing a 10-0 lead, the Browns froze in their tracks and the Saints slalomed to a 17-10 win. All together now. . .”Same ol’ Browns.”

And Deshaun Watson still stinks.

A SUPER MARCH?: The Cincinnati Bengals continued their matriculation toward a date with the Super Bowl with an escape from disaster in frigid Foxboro.

They led, 22-0, at the half. Mighty Joe Burrow, the AFC’s MVP (you read it here first), was 42 for 50 for 375 with two touchdowns.

But it took a New England fumble at the Bengals’ 5-yard-line with 55 seconds left to preserve a 22-18 win, their seventh straight.

I would have given away three of my Christmas presents — a paisley tie, a fruit cake and a bottle of Old Spice — to attend New England coach Bill Belichick’s one-word answers during his post-game press conference.

—VIKING TOUR: If there is a Chosen Team in the NFL, it is the Minnesota Vikings. They beat the New York Giants on a last-second field goal, 27-24. They’ve won 12 games, 11 by one score, an NFL record.

And they are a major headache for bettors. In their 13 games, they’ve covered or beat the spread only seven times.

—UPSET CITY: Three more reasons why ya gotta love college basketball:

*Eastern Illinois was 31 1/2-point underdogs, but barged into Iowa City and beat Iowa, 92-83. EIU is the first team in more than 30 years to be more than a 30-point underdog and win. Teams more than 30-point ‘dogs were 0-588 before EIU stopped the Hawkeyes. And EIU trailed Iowa, 18-4 at the game’s beginning.

*Number 25-ranked Arizona State (11-1) was only a 2 1/2-point favorite for its visit to San Francisco. They could have been a 30-point underdog. San Francisco obliterated the Sun Devils, 97-60.

*Remember the 77-49 beatdown Virginia Tech put on Dayton in Blacksburg? Boston College was not impressed. Virginia Tech, No. 21 in the AP Poll, visited Boston and lost in overtime, 70-65. BC had lost five of its previous six games.

—MERRY CHRISTMAS: My favorite Christmas movies.

*Christmas Vacation (A laugh a minute every time I watch it. Doesn’t everybody have a Cousin Eddie?)

*Miracle on 34th Street (It’s a miracle to survive a walk down 34th street in New York )

*It’s a Wonderful Life. (I wouldn’t want to spend Christmas the way Jimmy Stewart did.)

*A Christmas Carol (To Ebenezer Scrooge, “Bah, humbug.)

*White Christmas (Just look out your window. You wanted a white Christmas, but if you go outside for more than a minute your lips will fall off.)

OBSERVATIONS: Tom Browning’s Memorable Moment

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, still reeling and stunned by the death of former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tom Browning.

—OTIS HISTORY: Tom Seaver wasn’t the only Tom Terrific. To me, Tom Browning was Tom Terrific, in every way.

People referred to him as Mr. Perfect because he pitched the only perfect game in Cincinnati Reds history. In some ways, that’s unfair. He is known only to the casual fan for that perfect game, but he was much, much more than that.

His real nicknames, ones used by his teammates, were Otis and Puggy.

Many thoughts flashed through my cluttered mind when I heard about his passing and one really stuck after I heard it.

I asked him one day about his best baseball memories and he did not mention the perfect game nor his win in Game 3 of the 1990 World Series. “One of my best memories,” he said, “was hitting a home run off Orel Hershiser. Now that was perfect.”

Spoken like a true pitcher.

Browning grew up in Casper, Wyoming, where they can play baseball about 22 days in a year. And he pitched at LeMoyne College in Syracuse, N.Y. where more often than not they had to shovel snow off the mound.

After his junior year, he quit LeMoyne and enrolled at Tennessee Wesleyan, a small NAIA school. For some reason, the University of Kentucky stopped by for a game. Did Browning pitch? Did he ever. He beat UK and struck out 15.

Fortunately for Browning and the Cincinnati Reds, UK coach Keith Madison was a bird dog scout for the Reds. He alerted the Reds about this left handed kid at Tennessee Wesleyan.

The Reds invited him to a pre-draft workout at Riverfront Stadium. The Reds drafted him on the ninth round, the 233rd player picked. Browning asked for $5,000. The Reds signed him for $3,500.

And the rest, as they say, was perfect history.

—ONE MISS: One of the finest man I’ve ever known and one of the all-time best baseball scouts told this story on himself involving Tom Browning.

His name is Carl Loewenstine and for years he was a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers. On the night Browning pitched his perfect game against the Dodgers, he was seated in a private box with his general manager, Jamestown (O.) native Fred Claire.

“About the seventh inning, when we still didn’t have a hit, Fred turns to me and says, ‘Did you see this guy pitch in college?’”

Said Loewenstine, an honest man, “Yes, sir. I certainly did. I marked him as ‘no prospect.’”

Loewenstine, retired after signing many major leaguers and living near Hamilton, laughed and said, “I didn’t think I would live to see the next day.”

—CASH MONEY???: Want to buy majority interest in an NBA franchise? Dig deep. . .real deep. . .deeper.

Billionaire Mat Ishbia paid $4 billion to wedge his way in and that $4 billion only got him a little more than 50% ownership of the Phoenix Suns.
Well, the sellers did toss in the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury as part of the deal, for whatever that’s worth.

Shouldn’t $4 billion buy you downtown Phoenix? Well, at least Mesa.

Wonder if he has some loose change left in his pocket, about $1.075 billion? Forbes says that’s the estimated value of the Cincinnati Reds.

Somebody, anybody, please make an offer, one that current ownership can’t refuse. Where’s Don Vito Corleone when you need him?

—A GREEDY GUY: Sometimes just saying no is a time when you should just say yes.

Corey Youmans, the guy who caught Aaron Judge’s historic 62nd home run, put the ball up for auction and made $1.5 million.

Nice, huh? Well, before the auction he was offered $3 million and said no, believing the auction would pay more. So his greed cost him $1.5 million.

—QUOTE: From 6th century B.C. Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu: “Loss is not as bad as wanting more.” (And ol’ Lao-Tzu never saw a baseball game.)

BLOW ME DOWN: Hurricane Ian did damage to baseball, too. The Category 4 storm heavily damaged the Tampa Bay Rays spring training complex in Port Charlotte, Fla, damages that can’t be repaired by spring training.

The Rays will split training time between the Walt Disney Complex in Lake Buena Vista and their home park in St. Petersburg, the Tropicana Mausoleum.

Too bad a hurricane didn’t damage Plant City Stadium when Cincinnati trained there so they could have fled to Sarasota sooner than they did.

The Plant City site was as austere as Attica Prison and there is no doubt the ball fields inside Attica were better than the soggy and lumpy Plant City diamonds.

STEALTHY METS: Just when I thought I was finished writing about New York Mets’ owner Steve Cohen spending money as if he was passing out Halloween candy, he did it again.

In the still of the night, when most of us were sleeping, the Mets swooped in and stole Carlos Correa away from the San Francisco Giants.

Correa agreed to a 13-year, $350 million deal with the Giants. But eight days later, when the Giants balked a bit over some perceived medical issues, the vampirish Mets stole him for 12 years at $315 million.

Correa is a shortstop, but the Mets already had their 10-year $341 million shortstop in Francisco Lindor. So the Mets are tearing a page from the New York Yankees playbook and moving Correa to third base.

The Yankees did it when they signed shortstop Alex Rodriguez when they already had shortstop Derek Jeter. So they moved A-Rod to third.

And mark this one down. Despite Cohen spending more money ($800 million. . .so far) than the gross national product of Ecuador, the Atlanta Braves or Philadelphia Phillies will win the National League Central in 2023.

—STILL AVAILABLE: Not sure what this means, other than maybe it says a lot about the make-up of last season’s Cincinnati Reds roster.

None of their free agents have been signed by other clubs. The list (and hold your applause until the end): Hunter Strickland, Mike Minor, Jeff Hoffman, Austin Romine, Donovan Solano and Justin Wilson.

OBSERVATIONS: Why did the Reds trade Farmer?

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave wondering why I waste a valuable three hours watching the Cleveland Browns and contemplating tossing my Browns hoodie and Brown hat into the fireplace. It would be the only fire the Browns show.

—BOW TO BOWDEN: It isn’t often I agree with Jim Bowden, especially when he was general manager of the Cincinnati Reds and broadcaster Marty Brennaman referred to him as ‘Ol Leatherpants.’

Bowden now writes for The Athletic and he graded every team’s winter meetings performance.

Of the Reds, he wrote: “One move I didn’t like was trading Kyle Farmer to the Twins. I thought he was an important veteran presence who would help lead and develop their young players.”

To that, I agree wholeheartedly.

Of course, though, I had to disagree with something he did. He gave the Reds a ‘C’ for their winter meetings performance.

There was more than $2 billion spent on free agents by MLB teams. The Reds spent $1.175 million on a one-year deal for a catcher named Luke Maile.

Yes, the Reds are in full retreat into their rebuild plan and signing high-ticket free agents isn’t on the blueprint. But giving them a ‘C’ for what they didn’t do is highly questionable.

—QUOTE: From former player and manager Casey Stengel, who studied to be a dentist: “I’m thankful I had baseball knuckles and couldn’t become a dentist. I got $2,100

a year when I started in baseball and I chased the balls Babe Ruth hit.” (Is that true Stengalese, or what?)

—BIG BROWNOUT: The Cleveland Browns are getting what they deserve. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett led them to a 32-14 beatdown of the Cincinnati Bengals on Halloween Night. But the Browns wouldn’t let him spook the Bengals Sunday.

He put on a uniform for no apparent reason Sunday and watched another underwhelming performance by quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Watson is a guy the Browns never should have traded for, let along sign him to a $250 million contract. One charge of sexual assault is one too many, but more than two dozen is an awful habit.

He has played two games and led the Browns to one touchdown. One. On Sunday the Browns were in Bengals territory time and time again, but Deshaun took them nowhere. His mechanics look like the Tinman.

The Browns lost (or the Bengals won), 23-10, in a much-interrupted game because the officials played drop-the-hankie every other play.

And was anybody assigned to block Bengals’ defensive lineman D.J. Reader? He was in Cleveland’s backfield so often he should have been wearing a white jersey.

When he wasn’t standing over Watson after knocking him down, he was stopping Browns’ star running back Nick Chubb at the line of scrimmage.

—QUOTE: “From Scottish actor Colin Mochrie: This just in: Beverly Hills 90210, Cleveland Browns 3.” (So they even know how bad the Browns are in Glasgow?)

—TALL TALE: From what I understand, it went down something like this:

Mild-mannered Baker Mayfield boarded a plane in Charlotte and flew to Los Angeles. Upon landing, he fetched his back pack from the overhead bin and headed for an LAX bathroom.

He pulled his Superman cape out of the back pack and put it on. He grabbed an Uber and thumbed quickly through the Los Angeles Rams playbook on his iPad.

Then he took the field, knowing none of his new teammates, and with two minutes left, he directed the Rams 98 yards to a game-winning touchdown pass with 10 seconds left. Rams 17, Las Vegas Raiders 16.

Isn’t that always the way it works in Hollywood? Mayfield became the first quarterback to cover 98 yards in less than two minutes to a game-winning touchdown in 45 years.

That’s what the Raiders get for tugging on Superman’s cape.

—QUOTE: From Superman, who may or may not have been talking about Baker Mayfield: “I believe in second chances, I believe in redemption, but, mostly, I believe in my friends.”

—WRONG POSE: The Heisman Trophy has a running back giving a stiff arm on top

— of the award. What a misnomer. It should be a quarterback with his arm cocked ready to pass.

Why? Because the Heisman is pretty much a quarterback award. Quarterbacks have won 11 of the last 13 and all four finalists this year are quarterbacks.

An outlier was 2020 winner DeVonta Smith, a wide receiver at Alabama.

—QUOTE: From Ohio State’s Archie Griffin, not only the rare running back winner, but the only two-time winner: “My name is not only Archie Griffin, it’s two-time Heisman trophy winner Archie Griffin. Once you win the award it’s with you for the rest of your life. It changed my life.”

—WHAT’S THE WORD?: Ran across this score listed in football results: Incarnate Word 66, Sacramento State 63. That was a mistake right? The score should have been listed in the basketball results, right?

Wrong. It was a quarterfinals football game in the NCAA FCS playoffs. The 129 points are the most ever scored by two teams in an FCS playoff game.

Never heard of the University of Incarnate Word until the last couple of years. It is a Catholic school in San Antonio, Tex. In 2004, the school changed its nickname from Crusaders to Cardinals.

The word incarnate means a deity or spirit embodied in human flesh. You’re welcome.

—ZION THE LION: The NBA’s Phoenix Suns got their gym shorts in a twist last week when Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans performed an acrobatic windmill thunder dunk.

Why? Because he did it with the Pelicans up by nine with seven seconds left. Then he posed and flexed and Phoenix players tried to get at him.

Said Williamson, “That was out of character for me. But you gotta understand. They sent my teammates home last year. I got a little carried away.”

Phoenix knocked New Orleans out of the playoffs last year but Williamson was injured and didn’t play.

It is amazing that the Suns took umbrage. Isn’t the NBA all about posturing slam dunks and three-pointers?

—SWAC SWAGGER: What do Grambling State, Prairie View A&M and Texas Southern have in common? Yes, they are all members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), the most prestigious of the HBCU conferences.

But, even better, they all own victories over Power Five basketball team this year and Grambling State owns two — Colorado and Vanderbilt. Prairie View beat Washington by 11 and Texas Southern beat Arizona State.

Texas Southern appeared last season in the 
First Four at UD Arena and beat Texas A&M-Corpus Christie, 76-67. Then they played eventual NCAA champion Kansas and lost, 83-56.

The SWAC’s rising success is a by-product of the transfer portal, one of the few positive things about the controversial transfer rule.

OBSERVATIONS: And so the Reds did. . .nothing

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, anxious to see if the Cleveland Browns can beat the Cincinnati Bengals for the sixth straight time. . .or if the Bengals can beat the Browns for the first time in six tries. It is all in your point of view.

—CENTRALLY SPEAKING: Baseball’s winter meetings in San Diego are over, so what did teams in the National League Central do:

*St. Louis Cardinals: Signed free agent catcher Willson Contreras to a five-year $90 million contract to replace retired Yadier Molina. Signed pitcher Adam Wainwright to a one-year $17.5 million deal for his last season before retirement.

*Chicago Cubs: Signed free agent pitcher Jameson Taillon to a four-year $68 million deal. Signed free agent outfielder Cody Bellinger to a one-year $17.5 million deal.

*Pittsburgh Pirates: Signed third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes to a seven-year $60 million deal. Signed free agent first baseman Carlos Santana to a one-year $6.7 million contract. Signed outfielder Bryan Reynolds to a one-year $6.7 million contract.

*Cincinnati Reds: ? ? ? ? ?

Oh, wait. The Reds did select outfielder Blake Sabol in the Rule 5 draft. . .then immediately traded him to the San Francisco Giants in a pre-arranged deal for a player to be identified later or cash considerations.

Reminds of the time the Reds traded a player for cash and manager John McNamara was infuriated. He pulled his wallet from his pants, yanked out a wad of bills, threw them on the floor and said, “Now tell me that cash can hit or pitch for me.”

—WHERE WERE THEY? — Rumor has it that the Reds actually attended the meetings, for no apparent reason other than face time in the Manchester Hyatt hotel lobby.

Since the cash-strapped and dump-salary Reds can’t offer free agents big bucks, what is their selling points? How can they entice players?

Well, instead of a lot of cash-money, general manager Nick Krall told MLB.com what the team offers.

“We can offer you some opportunities at different places,” he said. “If you have an opportunity to come to our ballpark, it’s a hitter-friendly park. Pitchers come in and they get a chance to work with our coaching staff, improve and get to go out on the market next year. We’ve got the opportunity to let you play. I think that’s a win-win for some people.”

That fishing hook remains with nothing but a dangling worm. And what does that message tell the fans? Pay good money and watch another 100-loss team?

Before the Reds came home empty-handed, GM Krall told MLB.com, “. . .we laid the groundwork here with a lot of different things.”

Wait a minute. Hasn’t this ownership group already run this proud franchise into the ground?

—BUYING A TRINKET: The World Series trophy, a 24” by 11” bauble, costs $20,000 to $30,000 to make. The New York Yankees continue to try to buy that bauble by throwing millions into the wind.

They have invested more than $1 billion in three players — Aaron Judge, Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton.

What is sad about all the money thrust at MLB players is that there are reportedly 3 1/2 million homeless people in America and 1 1/2 million are children.

Fans keep calling for a salary cap, which the Players’ Association will never approve. Really, though, whose fault is it? The owners. They shove the cash in front of the players.

And who would benefit from a salary cap? The owners, of course. They’d get to keep more money instead of giving it to the players.

—PADDING THE PADRES: The San Diego Padres threw a wallet stuffed with $400 million at free agent Aaron Judge. But they missed. He ducked and signed a $360 million deal to stay with the New York Yankees.

So the Padres took a few bucks out of the wallet and tossed $280 million for 11 years at a shortstop who leads the league in having his name misspelled. . .Xander Bogaerts.

Wait a second. Don’t the Padres have an excellent shortstop, Fernando Tatis Jr.? They sure do. But they’re moving him to the outfield when he finishes his 80-game suspension at the start of 2023. He can return April 20 after missing the first 12 games.

The Padres must have discovered gold in the Mission Hills. In addition to Bogaerts making $280 million, Tatis has a 14-year $340 million deal and Manny Machado owns a 10-year $300 million contract.

—MAKING A STATEMENT: A few years ago Grant Basile and a few other Wright State basketball players showed up at a Wright State-Dayton volleyball match.

Basille and the rest of the WSU players held up a sign that read, “Play us in basketball.”

That never happened in Basile’s four years at Wright State, so one naturally wonders what Basile did to the Flyers Wednesday night was a statement.

Basile is now a graduate student at Virginia Tech and scored 23 points, 20 in the first half, as the Hokies tore UD asunder, piece by piece, 77-49.

Was that a ‘take that’ statement from Basile? Basile’s post-game remarks in the Richmond Times Dispatch make it appear so.

“We never got a chance to play them [at Wright State]. We would’ve loved to,” Basile said. “It was a lot of fun to actually get to play them. They’re a great program. I was excited.”

And deadly. To the Flyers, he was The Creature That Ate Muncie.

It must be ex-Raider week. Wright State’s other defector, Tanner Holden, transferred from Wright Stare to Ohio State. One night after Basile’s barrage, Holden hit a three-pointer from downtown Bexley at the buzzer to beat Rutgers, 67-66.

—THREE AND OUT: University of Dayton basketball coach Anthony Grant should hold up a ‘Stop’ sign when he sees one of his players about to launch a three-pointer.

The Flyers were 3 for 15 from beyond the trey line (20%) during a 77-49 terrible time at Virginia Tech. Unfortunately, missing threes is a UD trait. The Flyers have shot below 20% from three in four of their last six games.

For the year, UD is 54 for 200, 27%. That puts them 341st out of 363 Division I basketball schools.

—QUOTE: From former NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy: “Shooting percentage is just as much about decision making as it is about technique” (And some of UD’s decision-making on shooting threes is highly questionable.)

—GEORGIA ON THEIR MINDS: It seems as if the entire college football world believes Ohio State backed into the playoffs and that the Buckeyes are the salad before Georgia takes on the main course. . .baked Wolverine.

So I’ve searched far and wide, low and high, hither and yon for somebody who believes the Buckeyes, 6 1/2-point underdogs, can beat Gaw-ja. I found two.

Eleven folks from CBS Sports made predictions and ten picked Georgia. The outlier is Barrett Sallee, who picked the Buckeyes because their long layoff enables running backs TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams to get healthy.

The other OSU predictor is Pete Fiutak of The College Football News and he says Ohio State wins by 34-30.

—NO DFENCE: (Notice how I spell defence with ‘c’ like they do in hockey.)

In an NHL game this week, the Columbus Blue Jackets forgot how to play it, whether it is defence or defense. They lost to the Buffalo Sabres, 9-4.

Not only did they give up nine goals, five were scored by one man, forward Tage Thompson. And not only did he score five goals, he scored four during an 11-minute span in the first period.

He is the first player in NHL history to light the red lamp four times in the first period and, hey, the guy is 6-foot-7 so it isn’t like he sneaked up on the goalie. . .if the Blue Jackets used a goalie in the first period.

—QUOTE: From former NHL broadcaster Rick Jeanneret: “Are you ready Region of Doom? Here comes the Buffalo Sabres.” (Did anybody give the Blue Jackets that warning that the Sabres were coming?)

OBSERVATIONS: Graves named to Reds ‘Hall’

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, with a Yuengling in one hand, a Montecristo White Label Churchill in the other hand and three dogs in my lap, I’m trying to put together this latest edition of UOfromTMC.

—OH, DANNY BOY: Danny Graves is of the opinion, “Once a closer, always a closer.”

From 1998 to 2002, Graves was the primary closer for the Cincinnati Reds, earning the nickname, ‘Baby-Faced Assassin,’ because of his boyish face.

In 2003, Ray Knight became manager and was in need of a starter. He thought Graves had The Right Stuff to be a starter and plopped him into the rotation.

It was a disaster. Graves returned to the closer’s role in 2004 and recorded 41 saves and made the All-Star team.

After the year he was a starter and went 4-15 with a 5.33 earned run average, Graves said, “I’ve always been humbled by this game. I’ve had success, yeah. But I’ve always known some day it would end. Last year could have been the end, but I have an opportunity to do it again. I’m going to make the most of it, and I’m very confident in my ability.”

And he proved it with those 41 saves.

Graves owns the record for most career saves for the Reds and rode those saves into the Reds Hall of Fame. The veterans committee named him and former general manager Gabe Paul to join pitcher Bronson Arroyo for the 2023 class.

Graves, born in Vietnam to a Vietnamese mother, is the only player born in that country to wear a major league uniform.

He had an unfortunate incident after one bad outing when he flipped the bird to some fans behind the dugout. He caught heavy flak for it, but his knee-jerk reaction came after the so-called fans hurled racial epithets at him.

His story is heart-rending. He was born in Saigon but he and his mother fled the country in 1973 just before the fall of Saigon. They came to the U.S. and he and his brother, Frank, spoke no English, just Vietnamese. They learned the language from their school classmates.

Graves not only spoke fluent English while with the Reds, his split-fingered fastball spoke a loud baseball language.

—WHAT PRICE, WINNING? — The NHL’s Arizona Coyotes dumped their No. 4 draft pick in 2017 when it was reported that Mitchell Miller bullied a fellow student when he was 14 and in junior high in Sylvania, Ohio.

He was 14!

Meanwhile, the Cleveland Browns activated quarterback DeShaun Watson for this week’s game against Houston, the same guy accused of sexual misconduct and sexual assault by more than two dozen women.

And Auburn hired Hugh Freeze as its football coach, the same Hugh Freeze fired by Ole Miss for paying players (before NIL) and using a university-issued phone to call an escort services.

—QUOTE: From new Auburn coach Hugh Freeze, who was coaching at Liberty University, an Evangelical school founded by Jerry Falwell Jr.: “Jesus is the only one who can handle my junk.”

—SOCCER IT TO ME: Yes, after saying I couldn’t watch soccer because 2-1 is a high-scoring game, I watched the U.S.-Iran World Cup game.

Why? Because of all the controversy between the two teams and the bad-blood history between the two countries. And the U.S. had to win or go home.

Call it patriotism or curiosity, I watched the U.S. win. And, yes, it was one of those 1-0 games and I’ll sheepishly admit it was, uh, rather exciting.

—WELL, MR. WATSON: When Deshaun Watson makes his debut Sunday as the Cleveland Browns quarterback after his 11-game suspension, there will be some familiar faces in the stands.

When Watson was accused of sexual misbehavior by more than two dozen female masseuses, it happened when he played for the Houston Texans. And Sunday’s game is in Houston.

Those familiar faces will be about ten of the women involved, all of whom settled out of court with Watson.

Said their attorney, Tony Buzbee, “Some of my clients asked to go. They thought it important to make clear that they are still here and that they matter.”

—QUICK QUIZ: What do all these football legends have in common? Jim Brown, Walter Payton, Gale Sayers, Eric Dickerson, Otto Graham, John Elway and Sammy Baugh.

Answer: None won the Heisman Trophy.

And speaking of the Heisman, I ran across an interesting note about Barry Sanders, who did win the Heisman while at Oklahoma State.

Going into his last game, Sanders needed 137 yards to reach 2,000 yards rushing. Late in the fourth quarter a two-yard run gave him 2,000.

Coach Pat Jones wanted him to come out of the game to prevent from losing yardage and falling below 2,000. Sanders refused to come out. On the next play he ran 57 yards for a touchdown.

—QUOTE: From Heisman Trophy winner Barry Sanders: “Maybe a good rule in life is never become too important to do your own laundry.” (Nadine emphasizes that point to me and adds doing dishes to the laundry list).

—BOWL REPORT: For what it’s worth (actually, nothing. . .just interesting). Michigan’s bowl record for its last 12 appearances is 3-and-9. Ohio State is 7-and-5. Alabama is 9-and-3. Georgia is 9-and-3. Clemson is 8-and-4.

OBSERVATIONS: The day Dunlop caught 27 strikeouts

By HAL McCOY

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, wondering why I waste valuable time watching the Cleveland Browns when I could do something more pleasant, like cleaning the toilets.

—K ‘EM ALL: When Jack McKeon managed the Cincinnati Reds, if you saw him on the road at mass or in a restaurant, you also saw Harry Dunlop.

Dunlop was McKeon’s bench coach and constant companion, one of those endearing friendships. When nice-guy genes were passed out, Dunlop received the mother lode.

Dunlop, 89, passed away this week. While he never made the majors, Dunlop was a minor league catcher and spent 21 years as a coach in the majors between 1969 and 2005.

Dunlop was a talking encyclopedia about his days in the minors and I never tired of hearing his story of the day he caught Ron Necciai.

It was in May of 1952 and Necciai struck out 27 batters in a Class D game for Bristol in the Appalachian League, an all-time professional record that still stands. One batter reached base on Dunlop’s passed ball on a strikeout. The one other out was a ground ball.

What is even more amazing is that Dunlop spent only 16 days with Bristol and caught three no-hitters — Necciai’s and two by Bill Bell.

“It was the only nine-inning no-hitter in which a guy struck out 27 hitters in professional ball,” said Dunlop. “I felt like a celebrity after it. I told my manager, George Detore, ‘George, I called a helluva game, didn’t it?’

“You know what he said? He just looked at me and said, ‘Why’d you call that pitch to so-and-so in the sixth (the one ground ball?’’

When you were around Harry Dunlop and he wasn’t smiling. . .well, that never happened. RIP old friend, RIP.

—QUOTE: From Hall of Famer Willie Stargell: “I eventually became proud of my strikeouts, because each one represented another learning experience.” (Those guys who faced Ron Necciai were fed a full education.)

—HERE WE GO: The Cincinnati Reds are at it again, dumping a veteran and some salary. They traded shortstop Kyle Farmer to the Minnesota Twins for a minor league pitcher who may or may not have two arms.

They acquired right-handed pitcher Casey Legumina, 25. He was 2-6 with a 4.80 earned run average at High-A Cedar Rapids and Double-A Wichita over 33 appearances, 16 starts, last season.

Then, strangely, they immediately traded relief pitcher Dauri Moreta to Pittsburgh for shortstop Kevin Newman. Farmer, in his second year of salary arbitration eligibility, was projected to make $6 million in 2023. Newman made $1.95 million last year with the Pirates.

All together now. . .here we ago again.

—FALSE HOPE: Why is that that it seems as if the Cleveland Browns always march down the field like Hessian soldiers, taking no prisoners, on their first possession of a game and look like Super Bowl champions?

Then they have to play the rest of the game and look as if an oblong piece of leather is a foreign object? They did it again Sunday in a 31-23 loss to Buffalo. They took the opening kickoff and sliced through Buffalo’s defense as if it weren’t on the field.

Then nothing. Mistakes. Penalties. Fumbles. Bad play calls. What made me want to throw a shoe through my TV screen occurred in the third quarter when they trailed by only 16-10.

They had third-and-one in Buffalo real estate. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett tried two sneaks and failed. Why do that? Don’t they have one of the NFL’s best and most powerful runners in Nick Chubb? He could fall forward for a yard.

And it was all downhill toward another downfall for the Les Miserables Browns, losers in six of their last seven.

—SOME ESCAPED, SOME DIDN’T: And this is why we all love college sports. As the immortal pitcher Joaquin Andujar once famously said, “I’ll say it in one word. . .youneverknow.”

It was Close Call Week for the top-ranked football teams and some rated teams didn’t answer the call at all.

Georgia (1) held off Kentucky, 16-6. Ohio State (2) scored late to beat Maryland, 43-30. Michigan (3) needed a couple of field goals to ward off Illinois, 19-17. TCU (4) scored late to beat Baylor, 29-28.

And then there was Tennessee (5), ranked No. 1 a couple of weeks ago by the CFP folks. The Vols, 22 1/2-point favorites, were blown away by USC, 63-38, And that USC was South Carolina.

The other USC, Southern California (7) outpointed UCLA (16), 48-45. And it was a bad day for the big boys in North Carolina. UNC (13) lost to a 5-6 Georgia Tech, 21-17. NC State (24) lost to Louisville, 25-10.

Ole Miss (14) was pushed around by Arkansas, 42-27. Central Florida (20) was sunk by Navy, 17-14.

If you bet the Top Three and gave the points, you probably have to delay your house payment for a month. Georgia, a 22 1/2-point favorite, won by six. Ohio State, a 26 1/2-point pick, won by 13. Michigan, a 17 1/2-point choice won by two.

Summing up: Six members of the Top 25 lost and all four of the Top Four escaped by the skin of their exposed knees (And why do players these days wear pants above their knees, exposing the vulnerable joints? There is knee padding in the below-the-knees britches.)

While we’re at it, on the local basketball front, the Dayton Flyers were 21 1/2-point favorites over Robert Morris University and won by nine.

Moral to all this? Keep your wallet buttoned into your back pocket and your purse over your shoulder.

—WHAT PRICE?: In preparation for soccer’s World Cup, the Qatar government has built seven stadiums, a new airport, a metro system and nearly 100 hotels. And a city is sprouting next to the stadium where the finals are scheduled.

How did they do this? With foreign labor, 30,000 migrants from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and The Philippines. And at what cost?

We don’t mean money, we mean lives. In 2021 alone, more than 50 died and more than 500 were seriously injured. A British newspaper, The Guardian, reported that 6,500 have died since the projects began in 2010.

And you can bet those migrant workers were paid peanuts, rice kernels and lettuce — and not the green folding lettuce you put in your wallet.

—HURT FEELINGS: Quarterback Jameis Winston says he is recovered from back and foot injuries, but now his feelings are hurt.

Even though he is healthy, the Saints plan to continue starting former Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton for now.

“I lost my job due to injury and the policy has always been you don’t lose your job due to injury. And that’s what happened,” Winston said. But he added that he is a team player and supports Dalton and the coaching staff.

“I wear a shirt that says, ‘Big team, little me,’ even though it hurts my heart. It hurts my soul the way things have turned out to be this year, but it is what it is,” he said.

It does seem like a strange decision because Dalton is not doing anything close to an imitation of Tua Tagovailoa.

OBSERVATlONS: Time to forgive and not forget Pete Rose

By HAL McCOY

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave and pitchers and catchers report to spring training two days after Super Bowl LVII (And what in the name of Pete Rozelle is LVII?).

—Pete Rose made another request for forgiveness in a letter recently to baseball commissioner Rob Manfred.

It smacks of groveling at the feet of the emperor, but what else can the man do? Most likely, at 81 years old, Rose is thinking about his mortality and this might be a last-ditch effort toward re-instatement, a path he needs to take to even become eligible for the baseball Hall of Fame.

When his gambling on baseball surfaced and Rose was sent to baseball’s Elba in 1989, I was all for the banishment for his sins against the game he loves so much.

And he lied for 14 years with emphatic denials that he bet on baseball, so I stayed staunchly against him. When he finally admitted it, it was with a $1 million book deal, ‘My Prison Without Bars.’

In the book, he wrote that I told baseball writer Jack Lang and broadcaster Tony Kubek that he bet $50,000 on a World Series game. That never happened and further turned me against his re-instatement.

After reading the book and the letter, I know, for sure, Pete didn’t write either one. Of street smarts, Rose is Einstein. Of book smarts, he wrote one before he ever read one. Somebody wrote them for him, but that’s neither here nor there. They are his thoughts.

But now. . .well it has been 33 years and the man, as they say, has served his time. Has he reconfigured his life, as baseball requested? Well, no. He still gambles, but legally. And Cincinnati’s Hard Rock casino has invited him to make the first bet when sports betting becomes legal in Ohio on January 1.

Baseball itself is into gambling with its association with DraftKings since 2015 and the hypocrisy stinks to high heaven. And baseball permitted the Texas mattress guy who bet $10 million on the Astros, to throw out a ceremonial first pitch before a World Series game.

We all know that Rose can’t get out of his own way and creates controversy nearly every time he opens his mouth and his lifestyle loses him points.

Nevertheless, he is The Hit King, he does own 4,256 hits, a number no player will ever reach. Yes, it is time for re-instatement to see if one of the Veterans Committees will vote him into the Hall of Fame…where, by the way, fans can already see many of his memorabilia items in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame museum. All that’s missing is a plaque.

—QUOTE: From author/clergyman Phillips Brooks: “Forgive, forget. Bear with the faults of others as you would have them bear with yours.” (Nobody will forget what Rose did, but aren’t we a forgiving society and, yes, we all have our faults.)

—SAY WHAT?: Quotes attributed to Cincinnati Reds general manager Nick Krall by MLB.com won’t make fans rush to buy tickets.

On the eve of the general managers meetings in Las Vegas, Krall said, “We’re pretty much where we are.” Huh? What’s that mean? “We’re trying to figure out how we can make this team the best we can. . .we’re trying to figure out what our options are.”

When you figure it out, hopefully before Opening Day, let us know, Mr. Krall.

—DOMBROWSKI NOT DUMB: When Philadelphia’s director of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski took the Phillies to the World Series, he became the first baseball executive to take four different franchises to a World Series — the Marlins, Tigers, Red Sox and Phillies. No other executive has taken more than two.

What would it take to get this guy to Cincinnati before he lands in Cooperstown?

—SMILEY FACE: As Wright State University athletic director Bob Grant boarded the team bus after WSU’s upset win at Louisville, he noticed something unusual.

“Coach Scott Nagy smiles about three times a year,” said Grant. “But as I boarded the bus he gave me a brief grin.” (Louisville is not very good this year, but a win on the road against a high-profile basketball school is definitely something to smile about.)

—ANKLES AWAY: Just when it looked as if Baker Mayfield was to become a football non-entity, he is rising from the ashes.

It’s all about ankles. Mayfield started Carolina’s first five games then suffered a high ankle sprain. His replacement, P.J. Walker, has started the last four games, but he, too, suffered a high ankle sprain. Quarterback Sam Darnold hasn’t taken a snap this year because of — yeah, right — a high ankle sprain.

That leaves Mayfield the last man standing and he will start Sunday against Baltimore. . .with his ankles wrapped and double wrapped.

—CASH OFFER: From Brad Schmaltz, my California correspondent, and if you’ve seen the attorney ads for folks who ingested tainted water at Camp Lejuene, you can identify with this:

“Have you or your family been exposed to Browns football in the years from 1999 to 2022? If so, you may be eligible for a large cash settlement.” (As a diehard, and die often, Browns fan, I’d be a millionaire.)

—QUIET, PLEASE: From author/good friend Scott Russell: “A wise man once said. . .nothing.” (I’ve done this many times with my wife. . .to my vast benefit.)

OBSERVATIONS: Why the Reds fired Dusty Baker

By HAL McCOY

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave and while I’m a big fan of Philadelphia’s Kyle Schwarber, I’m a bigger fan of Houston manager Dusty Baker. He has taken Houston from the Disastros to the Astros and I’m pulling for them to win the World Series.

—THE DUST-UP: This not new news and it is not fake news. It is apropos to rehash it as Houston manager Dusty Baker is on the precipice of winning the World Series.

It is the reason the Cincinnati Reds fired Dusty Baker three days after the Reds lost a wild card game in Pittsburgh, concluding a 90-win season in 2013.

Baker took a bullet for one of his coaches.

General Manager Walt Jocketty, not a big fan of Baker that led to a strained relationship, wanted to fire hitting coach Brook Jacoby. Baker, as loyal a man as you’ll ever find, said, “If you want to fire somebody, fire me.”

That’s all Jocketty needed and he took up what Baker suggested.

Baker confirmed this to me and never once did he ever lie to me and he always answered every question I asked, which is one reason I so admire the man.

“I did what I thought was right,” he told me. “Sometimes they are always blaming the teacher (Jacoby). Sometimes it’s the pupils.

“It hurt big-time to get swept out of the playoffs and then three days later you get fired,” he added. “I guess I pissed somebody off.”

Baker, of course, bounced back with managerial jobs in Washington and now Houston, where he arrived to clean up the mess from the 2017 illegal sign-stealing by the Astros.

And now he is poised to be fitted with his first World Series ring as a manager. The Reds? They haven’t been relevant since he was fired.

—QUOTE: From Houston manager Dusty Baker: “Everybody knows something, but nobody knows everything.” (When it comes to baseball, Baker comes as close to knowing everything as any manager who ever sat in a dugout.)

—BAD STUFF: What is wrong with the sports world. . .or is it just a microcosm of the real world?

^Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving post an anti-Semitic video on Instagram and doesn’t apologize until he was forced to do it. So how sincere was he?

Probably not as sincere as his successful effort to get coach Steve Nash fired.

Perhaps rather than post on social media it would have been better for him to get vaccinated.

^Carolina Hornets player Miles Bridges pleaded no contest in charges for assault on his girl friend in front their two children. Yeah, I’m sure it was no contest when Bridges assaulted his girl friend.

A plea bargain netted Bridges probation for three years. Wonder if he gave the prosecutors an autograph?

^Michigan State suspends only four players when video clearly show more players were involved in the stomping and mauling of two Michigan players in a stadium tunnel after the game.

^Kansas basketball coach Bill Self, supposedly Mr. Squeaky Clean, is suspended a few games and kept on campus from recruiting as punishment for his alleged participation in the shoe scandal payoffs.

^The University of Louisville basketball program gets a slap on the wrist by the irrelevant NCAA for its part in the shoe scandal. Nike and Adidas have more power than the NCAA.

—DEFENSIVELY SPEAKING: The 2022 Gold Glove Awards were announced and not one Cincinnati Reds player finished in the top three at any position.

Right fielder Aristides Aquino certainly deserved consideration, at least in the top three. He led the National League in outfield assists with 12.

The winner, LA’s Mookie Betts, only had eight assists. Perhaps Aquino was ignored because he played less than half his team’s games, only 80. Betts played 142, but that should add more credence to Aquino’s credentials, doing what he did in only 80 games.

The Gold Glove, of course, is based on more than assists, but Aquino covered right field like a tarpaulin

—QUOTE: From Hall of Fame shortstop Derek Jeter: “Defense usually doesn’t make many headlines, but it goes a long way toward winning baseball games.” (And how many games are kicked away by errors? Many, oh so many.)

—SO WHAT, BIG DEAL: After four Houston pitchers threw a no-hitter at the Phillies in the World Series, Middletown native and Philadelphia slugger Kyle Schwarber was asked about it.

“I really don’t give a – – – -,” he said. “We’ll move on to tomorrow. It’s cool. We’ll be in the history books, I guess.”

The only other World Series no-hitter was Don Larsen’s perfect game in 1956. And there has been only one other no-hitter in post-season play.

Reds fans remember it painfully. Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay pitched a no-hitter against the Reds in Game One of the 2010 National League Division Series and won, 4-0.

The Reds’ manager was Dusty Baker. After his Astros pitched the no-hitter Wednesday, Baker said, “That brought back memories of when (Roy) ‘Doc’ Halladay no-hit us when I was in Cincinnati. And so, boy, that was, I guess it was supposed to happen.”

—DRESS ‘EM UP: From good friend and columnist Mark Whicker of the Orange County Register just before Beggars’ Night: “Attention parents: Don’t dress up your kids like Lakers. They haven’t scared anybody in two years.” (The only ‘boos’ the Lakers hear is when they are on the court.)

—CASH THROWAWAY: How easy is it to flush $40 down the toilet? Buy $40 worth of Power Ball lottery tickets.

Nadine did just that. Out of 15 tickets, she had one number on two tickets and no numbers on 13.

But the lure of becoming a billionaire is just too tempting. And what would we do with a billion bucks?

Well, it wouldn’t be like when former Phillies pitcher Tug McGraw signed a big contract and said, “Ninety percent I’ll spend on good times, women and Irish Whiskey. The other ten percent I’ll probably waste.”

And I could have used that $40 for a few good cigars, but don’t tell her I said that. No, she doesn’t read my stuff.

—QUOTE: From a man who wisely remained anonymous: “What’s the difference between a man arguing with his wife and buying a lottery ticket? The man actually has a chance to win the lottery.”