OBSERVATIONS: The Young Mr. Frank Pastore

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, hunting my No. 2 pencils because only the foolhardy keep score at a baseball game with a pen.

—YOUNG BUCKS: Hunter Greene, 23, is the youngest pitcher to start on Opening Day for the Cincinnati Reds since 22-year-old Frank Pastore performed the task in 1980. And Pastore threw a complete-game three-hit shutout agasinst knuckleballer Phil Niekro and the Atlanta Braves.

Known in the Reds clubhouse as the Italian Stallion, Pastore was entertaining the media after the 9-0 win when George Foster walked by. Said Foster, “Way to go, Frank. Thatsa real eye-talian.” Foster had driven in four runs with a double and a home run in front of 51,774 in Riverfront Stadium.

It was a sign that Pastore might be another Tom Seaver. Pastore loved and admired Seaver and tried to do everything exactly the way Tom Terrific did it. That, of course, was impossible.

It didn’t pan out. In seven years with the Reds he was 45-58 with a 4.30 earned run average.

There was a day he began a game by walking the first three batters. Manager John McNamara trudged to the mound and asked, “What’s going on?”

Said Pastore, “I’m working on my mechanics.”

Said McNamara, his face as red a ripe tomato, “(Expletive) the mechanics. Throw (expletive) strikes.”

Pastore, a highly religious man, had a Christian radio show in southern California. One day, he said on the air, “At any minute I could be spread all over the 210.”

Three hours later, while riding his motorcycle on the 210 freeway near Los Angeles, he was struck by a car and died. He was 55.

—A NEW CHANT: From loyal reade Bob in Bellbrook: “The Cincinnati Bengals have the chant, ‘Who Dey?’ The Cincinnati Reds should have a chant, as well. After looking over the 2023 Reds’ roster, I recommend, ‘Who They?’”

Yes, it can replace that one that says, “Where ya gonna go?”

—SIRI-OUS THINKING: With the new bases the size of large deluxe pizza boxes, stolen bases will ramp up dramatically this season.

How about baseball’s most exciting play, a straight steal of home? And it’s still one of the most difficult plays in the game.

Jose Siri, formerly a top Cincinnati Reds prospect now playing for Tampa Bay, enacted a straight steal of home during spring training against the Boston Red Sox. And his eight total steals were the most by a player this spring.
“I’m the type of player that likes to always move on and advance to the next base, so that’s what I was thinking,” said Siri about stealing home.

Remember when Siri was in the Reds’ system and put together a 39-game hitting streak for the Dayton Dragons, longest in Midwest League history? It ended in controversy against the Great Lakes Loons, a Los Angeles Dodgers affiliate.

In Siri’s next-to-last at bat, they threw a pitch behind him, nearly hitting him. On his last at bat, they threw a 3-and-2 pitch that was as wide as the Great Miami River.

It evoked this response from talented Dragons broadcaster Tom Nichols: “First they trieed to hit the batter, Jose Siri, then they didn’t give him anything to hit. It’s a reflection on the Dodgers organization, specifically the (Loons) manager and pitching coach. I hope you’re proud of yourself. You just stopped a hitting streak by not offering a pitch that the guy could hit.

“It is something that has been a great thing for a guy who put together a 39-game hitting streak, what publicity it has brought for this league and throughout minor league baseball. You’ve ended it tonight in a way in which you did not even go about it aggressively and try to beat the guy.”

Way to go, Tom. You told it like it was and it wasn’t pretty.

The Reds never gave Siri a chance. He was claimed on waivers by Seattle at the start of spring training in 2020. A month later, San Francisco claimed him on waivers from Seattle.

After languishing in the minors, he became a free agent after the 2020 season and Houston signed him. He made his major league debut in 2021 with the Astros. They traded him to Tampa Bay at last year’s deadline and he is now the Rays starting center fielder.

Yes, MLB can be a long and winding road.

—QUOTE: From Josh Gibson, the Johnny Bench of the Negro League on why he was never signed by MLB: “They told us when one of us was good enough, they’d sign us. They was lyin.’”

—STRANGE BUT TRUE: Read into this what you want or don’t want. When NBA referee Scott Foster officiates a game in which Chris Paul plays, Paul’s team is 0-and-48.

There is no suspicion of foul play or any indication Foster holds any grudge. It is more that Chris Paul keeps playing for some bad teams.

—THE COLONIALS GET AXED: The dreaded P.C. police roped in another victim. The Atlantic 10’s George Washington University has been known as the Colonials. No more. Some students objected and said, “The name had a negative connotation regarding violence toward Native Americans and other colonized people.”

Colonials? Negative connotation? Yeah, right Colonials is about as meek as nicknames get. The four finalists for a new nickname: Ambassadors, Blue Fog, Revolutionaries, Sentinels, I’m certain some negative connotations can be found in three of those four finalists.

What can be held against Blue Fog. . .unless some jerk suggests that it means the Washington D.C. police force is in a fog.

—SCHOOL DAYS IN UTAH: Until the NIT, I’d never heard of Utah Valley University. I thought it was some tiny school tucked in a corner of the Salt Flats. So I looked it up and. . .wow.

You would think the University of Utah, Utah State, Brigham Young and Weber State are all bigger. You would think wrong.

Utah Valley is the biggest school in the state with 43,282 students. Then comes Brigham Young (34,737), Utah (32,760), Utah State (28,118) and Weber State (24,048). And there is two-year Salt Lake Community College (33,420).

That’s more than 185,000 college students in state with 3.4 million people.

—A DREADED LIST: What is destroying sports as we once knew them and loved them:

The transfer portal and Name, Image and Likeness, Rob Manfraud, LIV golf, NFL’s quarterback merry-go-round, NBA’s scoring frenzy with no defesne, no competitive balance in MLB and no salary cap, the USFL and the XFL (Name two teams in both leagues).

—QUICKLY STATE-ED: A quick geography lesson. Of the 50 states, only one is a one-syllable word. It’s Maine. It is also the only state that has one other state on its border, New Hampshire, but it borders two Canadian provinces, Quebec and New Brunswick.

Maine and New Hampshire are two states I’ve never visited. I’ve been in 44 states. Also on my visitation itinerary: Alaska, Idaho, South Dakota, Oregon.

OK? Remember the Maine.

OBSERVATIONS: How baseball’s new rules passed

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, watching the downpour out The Man Cave window and hoping there isn’t a California-like deluge on Opening Day Thursday.

—PLAYERS GOT DUPED: With the power the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) owns, it is incredible that it permitted commissioner Rob Manfraud to pull this off.

Manfraud put together an 11-person Competition Committee that aprroves or disapproves of rule changes. And he stacked the deck.

There are only four players on the committee and seven front office types.

So when they voted on the pitch clock, the four players voted no and the other seven voted yes. And when they voted on eliminating the shift, the four players voted no and the other seven voted yes.

Sounds as if the vote was taken in Florida.
—ONE FOR PHIL: Found a song that Sonny & Cher could dedicate to Cincinnati Reds COO Phil Castellin. It’s called ‘Where Do You Go?’

—TALKING SOAP?: Remember Detroit Tigers pitcher Mark ‘The Bird’ Fidrych? He used to hold the baseball in his hand and talk to it before every pitch.

Umpire Ron Luciano thought it was all a big phony act, “Until I walked through their clubhouse one day on my way to the trainer’s room and saw Fidrych talking to a bar of soap.”

He was probably trying to clean up his act.

—TUG ON THIS: And then there was New York Mets super-flake relief pitcher Tug McGraw.

Manager Casey Stengel removed Tom Seaver from a game and as he handed the ball to McGraw he said, “Think you can get ‘em out?”

Said McGraw, “Geez, Yogi. You just took out the best pitcher in baseball. If he can’t get ‘em out, what do you expect from me?”

—THE JUDGEBURGER: They will be selling a special burger in Yankee Stadium this year. It is called the 99 Burger and it only costs half a car payment. Just $19.99 and all the ketchup you can pour on it. The ’99’ is an obvious reference to Aaron Judge, who wears ’99’ on his Yankees jersey.

But $19.99? Guess the Yankees are figuring devious ways to come up with that $360 million they owe Judge At $19.99 a burger, they might covere it by season’s end.

—FLEEING FLYERS: What’s going on with the University of Dayton basketball program? Within 48 hours of each other, Amzil Mustapha, R.J. Blakney and Richard Amaefule put themselves in the transfer portal.

Amzil was a bit of a surprise, although he probably was not happy with his playing time. He will forever be remembered for his buzzer-beater shot that beat Kansas two years ago. But he was a hold-your-breath ball handler, susceptible to turnovers.

Blakney is a strange case. He was the team’s best defender and a regular starter. Suddenly, he wasn’t and his playing time melted away. Coach Anthony Grant said he was dealing with both an injury and “some personal issues.”

Amaefule was an injury-prone non-factor who ascored one point last season.

If you can’t enjoy playing for a great program like UD’s in front of 13,427 enthusiastic and supportive fans, where else can you be happy?

Fans are uneasy waiting to see what happens with DaRon Holmes II and Toumani Camara.

What blows my mind is when they announce their departures on Instagram, they all say what a great experience they had, what great fans they had, what great coaching they had, what a fabulous brotherhood they had with their teammates. Then why bolt?

—THEY CALLED HIM MOO: Speaking of University of Dayton transfers, I was channel-surfing when I ran across an NIT game involving North Texas State and right away I saw Moulaye Sissoko dunk one.

He plays less at NTS than he did at UD. He averages 8.2 minutes a game and 2.2 points.

And later I was watching Gonzaga and saw Malachi Smith. What? When did he transfer from UD? He didn’t. It is a different Malachi Smith. So how many Malachi Smiths are there?

Well, there was a Malachi Smith at Wright State. Is that the third Malachi Smith? No, this one transferred from WSU to Chattanooga and then to Gonzaga.

Got all that?

—SEND AWAY ‘THE CLOWN’: To the surprise of nobody, the Cleveland Browns released defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. He was sent home late last season after ripping the team for his perceived perception that the Browns did everything for defensive end Myles Garrett and nothing for him.

Never mind that Garrett was at least twice as good as Clowney. What was surprising was that the Browns waited so long to tell him to skedaddle and don’t let the door hit him in the shoulder pads.

The Browns also lost runningback D’Ernest Johnson via free agency to the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was no great loss, even though Johnson showed flashes of brillance. He was third string behind Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.

Hunt also is a free agent, but remains unsigned. lf you are playing behind Nick Chubb, you won’t ever be the featured back.

—CAN HE TAKE IT BACK?: UCLA led Gonzaga at the ha in the NCAA tournament Friday night, 46-33, after shooting 51.4% on 19 for 37. As he left the floor, UCLA coach Mick Cronin told a national TV audience, “When the ball goes in, you become a better coach.”

Man, was he an awful coach in the second half. The Bruins couldn’t throw the ball into the Pacifice Ocen off the Santa Monica Pier. They shot 30% (9 for 30), went 10 minutes without a basket on 0 for 11 shooting, got outscored 46-30 and lost, 79-76.

—ANOTHER INTERLOPER: With Fairleigh Dickinson gone, I rooted for another upstart. . .the Florida Atlantic Owls from Boca Raton, Fla.

The school opened in 1964 withs 867 students. The first degree went to President Lyndon B. Johnson, an honorary degree. The campus was built on the 5,860 acres of an old World War II airfield, the Boca Rotan Army Airfield.

They began intercollegiate athletics in 1979 and there are now 30,000 students.

—DOG-GONE IT: All three of our dogs (Paige, Quinn and Parker) love Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes so much that we fear they might be cereal killers.

—LIFT ME UP: My favorite songs for inspiration when I’m down: Imagine (John Lennon), Why Me Lord? (Kris Kristofferson), You’ll Never Walk Alone (Josh Groban), Don’t Stop Believin’ (Journey), American Trilogy (Elvis Presley), Dream On (Aerosmith), Wind Beneath My Wings (Bette Midler), Fight Song (Rachel Platten), Beautiful Day (U2).

What A Feeling (Irene Cara), What A Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong), Hall of Fame (The Script), Tubthumper (Chumbawumba).

OBSERVATIONS: McCarver was a Catcher in the Wry

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, overdosing on college basketball (and loving it) until baseball season and the heartbreak begins.

—TIM WASN’T TINY: Former catcher/broadcaster Tim McCarver passed away this week, leaving behind some of the best baseball quips.

McCarver’s deep-depth on-air commentary irritated some listeners, but true baseball fans loved it. His knowledge came from kneeling behind the plate, baseball’s School of Learning The Game.

That’s why so many former catchers become managers and McCarver would have been a great one had he chose to pursue it.

McCarver was catching Bob Gibson one day and went to the mound to calm him down. Said Gibson, “What the hell are you doing here? The only thing you know about pitching is that you can’t hit it.” Actually, McCaver was a fair hitter, a career .271. Nowadays, that would fetch you $25 million a year.

McCarver, though, got his revenge on Gibson when he said, “Bob Gibson is the luckiest pitcher I’ve ever seen. Every time he pitches, the other team never scores runs.”

When McCarver was with the Philadelphia Phillies, he was Hall of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton’s personal catcher. Said McCarver, “When we die, they’ll bury us in the same cemetery, 60 feet, 6 inches apart.”

Just a few short years ago, of the 30 MLB managers, nine were former cathers: Ned Yost, Mike Scioscia, Joe Girardi, Bruce Bochy, Brad Ausmus, Mike Matheny, Bob Melvin, Mike Redmond and John Gibbons.

Former Cincinnti Reds managers since the 1950s who were catchers: Birdie Tebbetts, Russ Nixon, John McNamara, Jack McKeon, Bob Boone, Dave Miley and Jerry Narron.

—QUOTE: From former catcher Tim McCarver: “When a catcher has to use his thumb to give signs, that means the pitcher has more than four pitches.”

—THAT WAS SOME BELCH: Speaking of pitchers, one day in spring training in Plant City, a Florida newspaper sent a young woman to cover her first baseball game.

After the first pitch, they always announce in the press box the starting time of the first pitch. On this day, with Tim Belcher pitching for the Reds, he threw his first pitch and in the press box they announced, “First pitch, 1:07.”

So in the young woman’s paper the next day, she wrote, “Tim Belcher’s first pitch was 107 miles an hour.”

Belcher hung the clipping on his dressing stall in the clubhouse.

—TURN THE PAIGE: Ol’ Satchel Paige could really pack ‘em in, even when he was 50 years old. He was 50 when he pitched for the Triple-A Miami Marlins in 1956.

A then-record minor league crowd of 51,713 was in attendance at the old Orange Bowl to watch Paige pitch against the Columbus Jets.

And it was no publicity stunt. Paige pitched into the eighth inning of a 6-2 victory and he drove in three runs with a triple.

That was child’s play for Paige. He made his last major league pitch for the Kansas City Athletics in 1965 when he was 59.

—QUOTE: From legendary pitcher Satchel Paige: “You win a few, you lose few and some get rained out. But you get to dress for all of them.”

—DOES HE WANT OUT?: Cleveland Browns runningback Nick Chubb posted three words on Twitter that should make Browns fans shudder and jittery.

Clearly, Chubb is disenchanted with his team’s yearly failures. During the Super Bow, he tweeted, “Tired of watching.”

Oh, boy.

—RAM-A-LAM-A-DING-DONG: There are three teams nicknamed ‘Rams’ in the Atlantic 10 Conference. When it comes to success, though, it is always the VCU Rams and the Rhode Island Rams.

The Fordham Rams? The rest of the league always wiped their Nikes on them. . .until this year.

Before this weekend, Fordham was 21–5 and tied for second in the A10 at 9-4. It is Fordham’s first 20-win season since 1990–91, 32 seasons ago.

Since then the F-Rams had three winning seasons and lost at least 20 games 15 times.

There is a caveat. The Rams were 12-1 in nonconference games, a record built with the easiest nonconference schedule in all of Division I basketball, according to KenPom.com. That’s 352nd of 352 teams.

The University of Dayton mangled Fordham, 82-58, on January 10 in Fordham’s gym. . .and it truly is a gym.caught up.)

—A DIFFERENT ‘CAT: When it comes to college basketball, when one talks about the Wildcatas they usually are referring to Kentucky, Kansas State, Arizona or Villanova.

Northwestern? Great journalism school. Basketball? For most seasons, those Wildcats were fortunate to hit Lake Michigan while standing on a pier.

Not this year. As a lover of the underdog, I’m a huge Northwestern fan this year. They won their 11th Big Ten game Saturday when they whipped Iowa by 20 points. And they were underdogs in their own gym.

It’s the first time they’ve won 11 Big Ten games since 1931, the same year President Herbert Hoover made The Star-Spangled Banner the official national anthem.

—FOR PETE’S SAKE: Some folks are making a big deal out of the University of Detroit Mercy’s Antoine Davis and what he might do.

Davis is just 124 points away from breaking Pete Maravich’s career Division I college scoring record.

And that is so much bull and malarkey. When Maravich played, freshmen could not play and there was no three-point rule. So Pistol Pete scored his 3,667 points in three years over 83 games.

Davis, a fifth-year player, already has appeared in 144 games, 61 more games than Maravich.

This is not to disparage Davis. That’s a ton-and-a-half points. But Pistole Pete he ain’t.

An interestings sidelight is that both Maravich and Davis had/have their fathers as their head coach. That means both had/have the greoen light to shoot at any time from any place, including from the downtown business district.

—QUOTE: From Pistol Pete Maravich: “I played six to 10 hours a day, every day, 90 days during the summer, and I’d do incredible things. I would dribble blindfolded in the house. I would take my basketball to bed with me, I’d lay there after my mother kissed and tucked me in, and I’d shoot the ball up in the air and say, ‘Finger tip control, backspin, follow through.'” (Maravich was the real Basketball Jones.)

OBSERVATIONS: A Steal Sign For Sean Casey

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave as once again the pre-game hype for the Super Bowl turns it into the Stupor Bowl.

—CASEY AT THE BAT: There is no doubt that Sean Casey could climb out of bed in silk pajamas and Ugg slippers and line a double up the right-center gap.

The only thing he lacked was speed. Somebody once told him, “You run like a greyhound, a Greyhound bus.”

He is the only player in MLB history to get thrown out at first base by the left fielder. While playing for the Detroit Tigers, he lined one toward left. He thought Chicago White Sox third baseman Joe Crede caught the ball.

So he stopped on his way toward first. And he stumbled. Left fielder Pablo Azuna saw Casey only part way to first and threw him out on a bang-bang play.

Embarrasing? To the enth degree. Casey, though, got over it and laughs about it now. He even showed a video of it last week at Wright State University’s First Pitch baseball banquet.

And he told a story about when the Cincinnati Reds traded him (foolishly) to Pittsburgh for non-descipt pitcher David Williams, who won two games total for the Reds.

“The day I arrived in Pittsburgh, manager Jim Leyland called me into his office,” said Casey. “He told me, ‘Case, when you get on first base, don’t even look for signals from third base coach Gene LaMont.

“‘Look right at me in the dugout and if I jumn in the air and don’t come down, that’s your steal sign.’”

Hey, it wasn’t that bad. During his 12-year MLB career Casey stole 18 bases. Former Reds manager Russ Nixon played 12 years and never stole a base. He was caught trying seven times.

—DON’T STAND PAT: Michael Jordan was cut from his junior high basketball team. Aaron Rodgers received zero scholarship offers out of high school. Tom Brady was the 199th player picked in the NFL draft.

And now. . .Patrick Mahomes.

Ever hear of Ryan Cheatham? Me neither, even though he must have been an all-world quarterback.

He was the starting quarterback at Whitehouse (Tex.) High School. His back-up? Patrick Mahomes.

In the third game of Mahomes’ junior year, the Whitehouse coach decided his two quarterbacks would split halves.

Mahomes started the first half but was so dazzling he started the second half, too. He led Whitelhouse to a 38-33 victory and accounted for 500 yards.

Guess who started the rest of the season? The same guy who will lead the Kansas City Chiefs in this week’s Super Bowl.

—QUOTE: From Patrick Mahomes, admitting that he isn’t afraid of defensive linemen or linebackers, but he is afraid of something: “I’m definitely not for any haunted houses. They all scare me.” (Maybe the Philadelphia Eagles should all wear Hannibal Lector masks.)

—KYRIE’S KAPERS: Remember the NBA player named World B. Free? Cleveland Plain Dealer sports columnist Bill Livingston calls Kyrie Irving World B. Flat. Irving actually said he believes the earth is flat.

Irving’s latest shenanigan had him demanding a trade from the Brooklyn Nets to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Nets traded him, but to Dallas instead of LA.

Irving already has been disruptive in Cleveland, Boston and Brooklyn.

It seems everywhere he lands the franchise is in turmoil and why would the Lakers want that? Guess they don’t, but Dallas does.

It was Irving who missed most of a season because he didn’t get a COVID-19 vaccination. It was Irving who posted an anti-semtic remark on social media. It was Irving who was fined $50,000 and docked two days pay for missing two games. He said he had family and personal issues, but never elaborated.

—QUOTE: From NBA problem-child Kyrie Irving: “One thing that somebody told me is that leadership is a lonely role – some people can do it, and some people can’t.” (Uh, guess who can’t.)

—TALL, TALLER, TALLEST: Before Saturday’s games, the University of Dayton’s 6-foot-10 DaRon Holmes II led the nation with 60 dunks, two more than Purdue’s Zach Edey.

Edey, though, has a six-inch advantage over Holmes at 7-foot-4.

Is Edey the tallest Division I player? Nope. Western Kentucky’s Jamarion Sharp is 7-foot-5. A dunk for him should be a drop in the bucket, right? Well, he only averages 7 points a game and 7.2 rebounds.

A few years ago, there was a 7-foot-8 player at Mountain State, an NAIA school in Beckley. W.Va. His name was Paul Sturgess and his nicknames were ‘Tiny,’ — of course it was — and a more legit nickname — Tall Paul. He eventually played for the Washington Generals, the nightly opponent for the Harlem Globetrotters. He wore a mask and was a villainous character called Cager.

He wore a size 19 shoe and should have been called Big Foot.

—JOKE: Being tall is no joke, but a friend who is 6-foot-9 asked me, “What do clowns and tall people have in common? Their shoe store.”

—SHADOWY FIGURES: A friend told me that on Groundhog Day the Cincinnati Reds’ front office people saw their shadows. Does that mean six more weeks of Phil Castellini saying dumb stuff?

—QUESTION: Why does Punxsutawney Phil get to tell us the good or bad news every year? Where is Paducah Paul or Cucamonga Charlie or Buffalo Bob?

—OH MY, MYLES: In an attempt to prevent injuries, the NFL changed the format of the Pro Bowl to three flag football games and some skills competition.

Did anybody get hurt? Of course. And would it surprise you that it was injury-prone Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett?

He stubbed his toe running an obstacle course and dislocated it. That’s what happens when you try to sack a wooden wall.

—GET STONED: Think about this one: Without Goliath, David would be just another kid throwing rocks.

—CANDY CORNER: How many different colors are in a bag of M&Ms? A basic bag has six colors — yellow, red, brown, blue green and orange. Some speciality bags also have pink, tan and purple.

There are 42 M&Ms in a regular-sized bag. And the rarest is brown.

—QUOTE: From a yellow M&M: “Never play leap frog with a unicorn.”

OBSERVATIONS: Is He a Swiss Who Can’t Miss?

By Hal McCoy

Cave, knowing that no matter how cold it was in Buffalo it didn’t bother Joe Cool. No matter which way the wind blows, Joe Burrow is cool.

—SWISS CHEESE: The Cincinnati Reds hope their recent signee is as versatile as a Swiss Army knife.

His name is Dominic Scheffler, a left handed pitcher born in Bern, Switzerland. A fastball is also known as cheese, so Scheffler’s 94 miles an hour fastball must be Swiss cheese.

The only Swiss-born plsyer to make the majors also was a left handed pitcher, also born in Bern. His name was Otto Hess and it happened more than a century ago.

He pitched from 1902 to 1915 for Cleveland and the Boston Braves. He pitched for the 1914 Miracle Braves team that was in last place on the Fourth of July, but won the National League pennant by 10 1/2 games. They then swept the Philadelphia A’s in the World Series.

For his career, Hess was 70-90 with 129 complete games over 198 appearances with a 2.98 earned run average.

Scheffler was born in Switzerland, but moved to Japan and then to Germany, where the Reds found him. He had accepted a scholarship to pitch for Seattle University before signing with the Reds.

The Reds hope Scheffler is as good as Toblerone candy, made with Swiss chocolate.

—NO MASK FOR PETE: Think about this one. Many players were in the All-Star game multiple times, usually at one position. But Pete Rose made the All-Star team in different years at five different positions: second base, left field, right field, third base, first base.

When the Reds signed him, he was a 19-year-old catcher playing in the old Dayton Amateur Baseball Commission ‘AA’ league. He signed for $7,000. And he never caught a single inning professionally.

—QUOTE: From Pete Rose, The Hit King: “I’m just like everybody else. I have two arms, two legs and four-thousand hits.” (Me, too, Pete, but I’m 4,256 hits behind you.)

—BOTTOM OF THE PACK: Saw this headline on an ESPN.com baseball story: “Who’s No. 1 as the Season Approaches?”

Thought I’d check it out. Maybe they think highly of the Cincinnati Reds. Number 1? Nope, Houston is No. 1. Followed by Atlanta, New York Yankees, New York Mets, San Diego Padres.

Scroll down, scroll down, scroll down. The first National League Central team is No. 11 St. Louis. Then No. 13 Milwaukee. Then No. 21 Chicago Cubs. Then No. 24 Pittsburgh.

Scroll down, scroll down, scroll down. End of story. No. 30, Cincinnati Reds.

Never mind. It is just so sickening to see that this once proud and once respected franchise is absolutely irrelevant.

TAXABLE TEAMS: Five MLB teams didn’t give a hoot about the luxury tax last season. Any team that exceeds $230 million in payroll must pay a luxury tax. The Los Angeles Dodgers owe $32.4 million for exceeding the threshhold two years in a row.

The Mets owe $9.7 million, Philadelphia owes $2.9 million, San Diego owes $1.5 million and Boston owes $1.2 million. Cincinnati owes nothing.

Total MLB payrolls for the 30 teams was a record $4.65 billion. Most of the luxury tax money goes for player benefits and a player retirement fund.

The Reds were $116.5 million shy of having to pay the luxury tax. Right now, there is no luxury in Great American Ball Park. And there is no poverty tax.

—A HOOPS EARTHQUAKE: There was a seismic event that registered a 7.5 on the Richter Scale in Spokane this week. And it wasn’t an earthquake.

Gonzaga lost a home baskethall game on their McCarthey Athletic Center Court. It ended Gonzaga’s 75-game home winning streak. If Joseph McCarthy was alive, there would be a hearing.

And the loss was not to BYU or St. Mary’s, the only two WCC teams that ever come close to beating Gonzaga. No, it was Loyola Marymount, 68-67.

LMU had lost 25 straight games to Gonzaga, 21 by double digits, including a 144-100 loss. LMU hadn’t won in Spokane in 32 years (1991). The last time the Zags lost at home was January 18, 2018 to Saint Mary’s.

—QUOTE: From tennis player Vitas Gerulaitis after finally beating Jimmy Connors after losing to him 16 straight times: “Nobody beats Vitas Gerulaitis 17 times in a row.” (And LMU says, “Nobody beats Loyola Marymount 26 times in a rows.)

—BETTING IDIOCY: Some people have more money than brains. Some dead light bulb out there made the dumbest bet available to mankind.

When the Las Vegas Raiders led the Jacksonville Jaguars, 27-0, just before the half, this dunderhead made an in-game wager that Las Vegas would win.

Here’s the thing. He wagered $1.4 million. If Las Vegas won, his $1.4 million bet would win him $11,000. Jacksonville came back to win, 31-30, and the genius lost all $1.4 million when all he could win for that monstrous bet was $11,000.

His next wager was a three-bet parlay: The sun will rise in the west, a pig will fly backwards and the Buffalo Bills will beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 93-7.

—QUOTE: From some wise person named Terry Murphy: “A gambler never makes the same mistake twice. It’s usually three or more times.” (Wonder if that $1.4 million loser will come back for more?)

—GREEN WAS SUPER: During my one year at the Detroit Free Press, I was fortunate to encounter fellow sports writer Jerry Green of the rival Detroit News. He became a legend.

He covered pro football and earned combat pay for covering the Detroit Lions. And he covered the first Super Bowl. . .and never stopped. He retired in 2004 but The News asked him to continue covering the Super Bowl on a free lance contingency.

Last year, at age 93, Green covered his 56th straight Super Bowl. . .and that’s EVERY Super Bowl. He is the only person on earth to cover every Super Bowl.

The streak ends this year. He has decided not to cover the 57th. . .or Super Bowl LVII. He loved Joe DiMaggio, so ’56’ is a magic number for Green for two reasons, DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak and his attendance record.

Alas, though, the Detroit Lions never joined Green at a Super Bowl. The Lioons’ attendance record is zero. Only four teams have never been to the Super Bowl — Detroit, Cleveland and two fairly new franchises, Jacksonville and the Houston Texans.

—SIP-SIPPING AWAY: It was generally known that former Cncinnati Reds owner Marge Schott liked to sip vodka as she sat in her seat next to the home dugout.

One day as I sat in the press box, I said out loud, “Do you know it is always the same inning for Mrs. Schott?”

“What inning?” somebody aasked.

“For Mrs. Schott, it is always the bottom of the fifth.”

I know, I know. Keep my day job.

—FRANCHISE FODDER: Some pro football franchises you probably never heard of or have forgotten:

Miami Seahawks, Buffalo Bisons, Los Angeles Dons, Cleveland Rams, Boston Yankees, Boston Redskins, Boston Braves, Boston Patriots, Chicago Hornets, Chicago Rockets, Chicago Staleys, New York Yankees, Brooklyn Dodgers, Dallas Texans, New York Titans, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, Tennessee Oilers, Portsmouth Spartans, Canton Bulldogs and, of course. . .the Dayton Triangles.

OBSERVATIONS: Ewing walked seven in one inning

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, wondering why anybody would spend a winter in Buffalo, where the sun only shines on July 26 and you have to make reservations to see it.

—I WALK THE LINE: When Joe Nuxhall was 15, he traded his paper route for a major league baseball contract with the Cincinnati Reds. After facing junior high school hitters, a few months later he was standing on an MLB mound, facing major league hitters, including Hall of Famer Stan Musial.

He entered his first game in June of 1944 in the ninth inning with the Reds trailing the St. Louis Cardinals, 13-0. Among other negative things, Nuxhall walked five batters. Understandable.

But it wasn’t the worst debut for a Reds Hall of Fame pitcher. His name was Bob Ewing. And this was related to me by my great friend, Brad Schmaltz. His wife, Penny, was a great niece to Ewing.

Turns out that Ewing walked 11 batters in his debut, two shy of the Reds’ all-time record for walks in a game. And he beat Nuxhall’s one-inning nightmare by walking seven in one inning, a National League record for walk in one inning. He lost the game, 9-5.
—QUOTE: From noted Poet Robert Frost, who was known to throw a few curveballs: “Poets are like baseball pitchers. Both have their moments. The intervals are the tough things.” (Especially after you walk five or walk seven in one inning.)

—NOTHING EXTRA HERE: They call it the ‘yips,’ when a golfer can’t make a two-foot putt, when a second baseman can’t throw accurately to first base. . .and apparently when a kicker can’t put one between the uprights. (I had an entire career of putting yips.)

The kicking yips hit Dallas placekicker Brett Maher when he missed four straight extra point kicks against Tampa Bay, a dubious and embarrassing NFL record.

His first two misses were so wide they missed the protective netting behind the goal posts and landed in the stands. The Cowboys only had three kicking balls and were down to one. Fortunately, if that can be said about missed extra points, his next two misses landed in the netting, preserving the ball.

He only missed three all season, but one was his last kick in the previous game. . .so he missed five in a row. Former NFL kicker Morten Andersen tweeted during the game, “Are the Cowboys hiring?” His last kick came in 2007.

Maybe extra points are suddenly too close. Maher was 29 of 32 this season on field goals, 9-ofj-11 from 50 yards or more.

Special teams coach John Fassel called it, “A bad day at the office.” Like most kickers, Maher has had ‘offices’ all over North America. In addition to two stops in Dallas, he kicked for the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Washsington, Houston and Arizona. And he also had stops in the Canadian Football League with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Ottawa Roughriders and Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

His business card says, “Have foot, will travel.”

—QUOTE: From former placekicker Garo Yepremian, after kicking a field goal in the first football game he ever saw, ran off the field and excitedly told his teammates, “I keeck a touchdown.” (So why did they only put three points on the scoreboard, Garo?)

—AARON ON AARON: Should Mr. Rodgers leave his neighborhood? Some say that 39-year-old Aaron Rodgers should take off his Green Bay Packers helmet and put on a fishing or hunting cap. Rodgers believes otherwise.

Talking on the Pat McAfee podcast, Rodgers said, “Do I still think I can play? Of course. Of course. Can I play at a high level? Yeah. The highest. I think I can win MVP again in the right situation. Right situation, is that Green Bay or is that somewhere else? I’m not sure, but I don’t think you should shut down any opportunity.”

Now there is a man with the ultimate confidence in himself and, hey, if Tom Brady can still do it (somewhat) at 45, why not Rodgers at 39?

In fact, playing into a fourth decade is not that unusual for NFL quarterbacks. How about a Top Ten with their age when they played their last game in parentheses:

Y.A. Tittle (48), George Blanda (48), Tom Brady (45), Steve DeBerg (44), Vinny Testaverde (44), Warren Moon (43), Doug Flutie (43), Earl Morrall (42), Drew Brees (42), Brett Favre (41).

Bonus points if you know what the Y.A. stood for in Tittle’s name. . .and for the unknowing, Tittle was a legendary QB for the New York Giants in the 1950s and 60s. Answer: Yelberton Abraham, and no wonder he went by Y.A.

THE GREATEST: This week would have been Muhammad Ali’s 81st birthday, if he were still punching. I had the privilege of riding around the streets of Detroit with him in the 1960s.

There was a group of kids on a street corner and Ali jumped from the car and approached them.

“Who are you?” asked a girl of about 12.

“I am the greatest,” said Ali.

“No, you are not,” said the girl. “God is the greatest.”

“But I have a better left hook,” said Ali, quicker than one of his counter punches.

—SO FAR AWAY: When 6-foot-5, 265-pound defensive end Sam Hubbard was trucking 98 yards with the football he stole from Baltimore, he was clocked at 17 miles an hour. That’s four miles an hour short of getting a ticket in a school zone.

Nevertheless, it looked as if Hubbard nearly tripped over the 20-yard-line and by the 10-yard-line he was staggering like a guy in the desert looking for an oasis.

As broadcaster Chris Collinsworth said about the run made on Sunday night, “He’ll catch his breath on Tuesday.”

Somebody on the sidelines said that as Hubbard ran by he was singing Carole King’s, ‘So Far Away.’

—WINK, WINK: There is a Dayton connection with the New York Giants. Don ‘Wink’ Martindale, a Dayton native, is the team’s defensive co-ordinator. Martindale was an all-state tackle at Trotwood-Madison.

Why Wink? Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s there was a game-show host named Wink Martindale on the TV show Tic-Tac-Dough. And it won’t be long before Dayton’s Wink Martindale will be in the dough as a head coach.

—THE NAME GAME: When this college basketball player is asked for an autograph, “And please sign your full name,” he probably begs off for fear of writer’s cramp.

His name is Enkhiln-od Michael Sharavjamts. The Mongrolian-born freshman plays basketball at the University of Dayton and goes by Mike.

—MORE FUN WITH NAMES: Some of my favorite non-baseball sports names:

^Sonny Sixkiller (Former University of Washington quarterback who wore, yep, number six.)

^Picabo Street (Olympic gold medalist in alpine skiing who had to be a winner because she was born Triumph, Idaho. Her dad is Stubby Street. . .no comment.)

^Tommy Gunn (No doubt he was a rapid-fire shooter on the basketball floor for Middle Tennessee State.)

^Ben Gay (An NFL player who always rubbed it in.)

^Fair Hooker (Was a Cleveland Browns wide receiver who always did his best work standing on a corner.)

^World B. Free (An NBA star who thought he was free to shoot every time he smelled the ball.)

^Andy Friese (The only anit-freeze ever in a NASCAR stock car.)

^Napoleon Outlaw (Did the NCAA penalize Michigan State for recruiting an outlaw, especially one named after Napoleon Bonaparte, who couldn’t beat Waterloo?)

^God Shammgod (Said this Providence basketball player, “Aren’t two Gods better than one?”)

^Creedance Clearwater Cuoto (This soccer player should have changed his last name to Revival and, like Fair Hooker, does his best work ‘Down on the Corner..’)

OBSERVATIONS: Robots creep closer to MLB

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave after going to bed with the Los Angeles Chargers leading the Jacksonville Jaguars, 27-0. Done deal, right? I spit out my Dunkin’ Donuts coffee Sunday morning when ESPN told me, “Jacksonville 31, Chargers 30.”

As former Dayton Gems hockey public address announcer Billy Hilbert used to scream into his mic late in a game, “Never leave a hockey game.”

—ROBOTIC INVASION: The Cockeyed Commish is on the prowl again. Several reports indicate that all 30 Class AAA baseball teams will use the robot umpire system to call balls and strikes this season.

It, of course, is experimental, an experiment that will find its way into a major league park near you in the not-too-distant future.

The Automated Balls and Strikes (ABS) system will be used, but in two different ways. Half the games will be played with a system of an eletronic strike zone. And half will use with a system similar to what is used in professional tennis.

Umpire Angel Hernandez should be ecstatic because when it reacheds the majors he can say, “Hey, you can’t blame me. It was Roger the Robot.”

Next? Robot pitchers so that all that will be needed is WD-40 and no Tommy John surgeries. . .and the elimination of stupendous salaries. After that will be robotic batters.

Pretty soon, though, MLB will have to put robots in the stands as fans because it keeps pushing real fans to the NFL and NBA.

—SHORTEN UP: It looks as if austerity has hit the annual Reds Caravan, too. . .or is it also in a rebuild mode.

The Reds have abandoned Athens, Florence, Ky., Muncie and Indianpolis. As one fan put it, “Other than Batesville, the Reds have abaonded Indiana, probably because the Chicago Cubs have taken over Indiana.”

Speaking of the Reds, they signed free agent pitcher Luke Weaver to a one-year $2 million deal, another stop-gap fill-in.

In seven years with St. Louis, Arizona and Kansas City, he is 24-36 with a 4.79 earned run average. He split last season with Arizona and Kansas City and was a combined 1-1 with a 6.56 ERA over 15 starts and 11 relief appearances.

Can you say scraping the bottom of the barrel?

The team did find $3.1 million in some musty corner to sign an international free agent catcher out of Venezuela, 17-year-old Alfredo Duno. He is listed as No. 4 on the Top 50 International prospects list.

The scouting report: “Duno has a chance to have at least three above-average tools that include fielding, arm and power . He runs well for a catcher and already shows elite bat speed.”

In addition to Duno, the Reds came to agreement with three other Venezuelans, six Dominicans, two Colombians and one Haitian.

—MLB’S RICHES: Why do baseball owners show little concern for declining attendance? Because ticket sales don’t amount to much in the revenue department.

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfraud disclosed at the BBWAA (baseball writers) meeting during last season’s All-Star break that MLB’s gross revenue was a record $11 billion.

That, of course, is before expenses. As far as revenue for all teams, including the Cincinnati Reds, 48% of local revenues are subject to revenue sharing and are distributed equally among all 30 teams. Each team receives 3.3% of the total sum generated. In 2018, each team received $118 million from this pot.

Teams also receive a share of national revenues, which were estimated to be $91 million per team, also in 2018. So, the Reds, like every team, received $209 million in 2018.

And you can wager your sweet bippy that five years later that revenue stream is much higher.

—SMALL GATHERING: The announced gathering — it can’t be called a crowd — for the Miami-Buffalo basketball game was 981. It was played in the dark dungeon called Millett Hall, where fugitives can hide for months and not be found.

Millett Hall seats 9,200 and most of those dust-covered seats have never been used for a basketball game. There are nearly 17,000 students at Miami, so what gives?

Traveling to Oxford from Dayton or Cincinnati is like riding a Conestoga wagon on the Oregon Trail and in the winter it can be like going through Donner Pass. But 981? Why bother?

One has to feel the frustration of first-year coach Travis Steele and feel sorry for the players who perform in front of 8,500 empty seats. Steele did say, “In three years, nobody is going to want to play us.”

We will get back with you on that one, Travis.

—THEY GET PAID?: Some not so bold predictions I heard with one ear by a couple of talking heads on FS1 one morning while I was listening to my Rice Krispies talk to me with the other ear:

“The only way Seattle beats the 49ers is if a tsunami hits San Francisco,” said one. He was right on.

And a different one said, “The Cincinnati Bengals won’t lose to Baltimore unless they all fall into a vat of bad chili and drown.” This one nearly required a coroner to check the Gold Star kitchen.

—THE Ol’ LAMPLIGHTER: Was watching an NHL game when a goaltender was replaced in mid-game because the red light behind him was blinking like a flashing light at a four-way stop.

Reminded me of a quote from former Montreal goalie Jacques Plante, who said, “Goal-tending is a normal job? Sure. How would you like it in your job if every time you made a small mistake, a red light went on over your desk and 15,000 people stood up and yelled at you?”

OK, some other funny sports quotes:

^Muhammad Ali, before he fought George Foreman: “I watched Foreman shadow boxing and the shadow won.”

^Boxer Rocky Graziano: “I quit school in the sixth grade because of pneumonia. Not because I had it, but because I couldn’t spell it.”

^Spider Lockhart on tackling Cleveland Browns legend Jim Brown: “The only way to stop Jim Brown was to give him a movie contract.”

—NAME GAME: Some baseball names that always make me smile:

^Coco Crisp: I prefer Rice Krispies.

^Milton Bradley: He had to be a gamer.

^Boots Day: Shouldn’t he wear baseball spikes?

^Rabbit Maranville: Always safe by a hare.

^Blue Moon Odom: He won once in a blue moon.

^Mark Lemongello: I never liked any Jello.

^Razor Shines: Always a close shave at second.

^Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish: Just call him Cal.

^Urban Shocker: Only won games in big cities.

^Oil Can Boyd: Did he put petroleum on the ball?

^Wonderful Terrific Monds: Never lived up to his name.

^Shooty Babbitt: He had one quick shot with the A’s.

^Chief Bender: Yes, his best pitch was a curveball.

^Pickles Dilhoeffer: Did his best work in rundowns.

^Peter LaCock, Dick Pole: No comment, no comment.

OBSERVATIONS: Barnhart wearing Cubs blue

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave wondering if ESPN’s ‘Get Up’ and ‘First Take’ can talk about anything but the NFL. . .and the Dallas Cowboys in particular.

CUBS ON THE PROWL: This one sneaked up on me while I was celebrating New Year’s and bemoaning the one-point fate of Ohio State against Georgia.

When the Chicago Cubs lost Willson Contreras to free agency, they needed a catcher. And they went the defensive route. They signed former Cincinnati Reds catcher and two-time Gold Glover Tucker Barnhart to a two-year $6.5 million deal. Barnhart and Yan Gomes will share the mask and shin guards.

Like the Reds did, the Cubs systematically rid themselves of high-priced stars like Contreras, Yu Darvish, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Jason Heyward.

Unlike the Reds, the Cubs continue their rebuild by spending money to acquire shortstop Dansby Swanson and outfielder Cody Bellinger.

On May 7, 2021, when he was with the Reds, Barnhart caught Wade Miley’s no-hitter and they became close friends. Miley pitched for the Cubs last year while Barnhart played for Detroit.

Miley has moved on, signing with Milwaukee, but Barnhart sought Miley’s advice before signing with the Cubs. It will be Miley’s ninth team in 13 years.

“It is hard for me to choose a different organization that’s done it better (than the Cubs,” Miley told Barnhart.

Barnhart leaned on Miley’s advice, considered the proximity of Wrigley Field to his Brownsburg, Ind. home, was impressed by the Cuhs upward direction and signed on.

“The National League Central is very winnable for us,” said Barnhart. “The St. Louis Cardinals will be good, the Milwaukee Brewers will be good. . .and we all know about Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.”

Yeah, we sure do know about Cincinnati and Barnhart had an insider’s view for eight years. If you check his fingers, the only ring you’ll see is his wedding ring.

—QUOTE: From long-time broadcaster Harry Caray, who never called a World Series during his long tenure with the Chicago Cubs: “What does a mama bear on the pill have in common with the World Series? No Cubs.” (Caray died in 1998, long before his precious Cubs finall won the 2016 World Series, 108 years after their last one.)

—CASH FOR CARLOS: A lot of folks are laughing at Carlos Correa for turning down a $285 million offer from his team, the Minnesota Twins, to pursue bigger bucks in greener (greenbacks) pastures.

He got much bigger offers first from San Diego and then the New York Mets. But both were wary of medical issues with an ankle he shattered in 2014 and the offers disappeared.

Presumably with a Twins cap in hand, he slinked back to the Twins and accepted a $200 million offer.

Ah, ha. He lost $85 million by turning down Minnesota’s original $285 million offer then signed up with them for $200 million.

Uh, no. Simple math. The $285 million was for 10 years. . .$28.5 million a year. The $200 million contract is for six years. . .$33.3 million a year. It is simple math — a $4.5 million a year raise. Who is laughing now?

—CUSTER AT QUARTERBACK?: Still laughing at the talking head on ESPN who screamed and shouted that giving TCU 12 1/2 points against Georgia was ludicrous. . .too many points. You could have given the Horny Frogs 57 points and taken Georgia and won.

As loyal reader Joe Lassiter put it, “It was the biggest mismatch since George Armstrong Custer took on the Guardians.” (We can’t say Indians, can we?)

—LION TALES: Remember 2008 when the Detroit Lions went 0-and-16? If that’s too far back, just remember last year when the Lions were 3-13-1.

A devout Lions fan said to me six games into this season, “Well, same ol’ Lions, like the 2008 team and last year’s team.” At the time, the Lions were 1-and-6 and fans were ready to put cement shoes on quarterback Jared Goff and drop him into the Detroit River.

Well, the Lions won 8 of their next 10 to finish 9-8. They tied Seattle for the final wild card spot in the NFC. And how important can early-season games be?

On week four, during their 1-and-6 start when the Lions couldn’t beat Ferris State, they lost a home game to Seattle, 48-45. The head-to-head game was the tiebreaker, so Seattle plays and Detroit stays home.

Said my disgruntled Lions fan, “They might as well have gone 0-and-17, back to when we were the Cowardly Lions.”

—JUST A BIT SHORT: It took University of Dayton athletic director Neil Sullivan a heap of cajoling and convincing to women’a basketball coach Tamika Williams-Jeter away to lure her way from Wittenberg. She thought she had a chance to win a National Division III championship.

But she took the Dayton job, “The only one that could take me away from Wittenberg.” And she knew the challenge. The lockerroom was bare, extremely low on experience and talent. As expected, the Flyers started 2-and-12. . .but can’t a girl catch a break now and then?

Some of the losses: 74-70 in overtime to Illinois State, 82-78 in double overtime to Northern Kenucky, 52-51 to Ohio U., 69-65 to Florida, 70-69 to Duquesne.

That’s five lossess by a total of 14 points and three overtimes.

—QUOTE: From legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi: “We never lose a game, we just run out of time.” (Tamika Williams-Jeter needs the clocks fixed in UD Arena. They keep running out on her.)

—STICKS AND STONES: Nick Saban and his Alabama constituents have their jock straps in a twist over a remark made on national television.

During halftime of the national championship game, Saban and David Pollock were together on the ESPN set to talk about the first half.

With Georgia annihilating TCU, 35-7, Pollock looked at Saban and said, “Georgia has taken a hold of college football.”

Saban’s face looked as if somebody had hit him in the face with a pick axe. And Alabama Nation is in a tizzy. How dare him. What chutzpah.

First of all, Pollock is right. Two straight national titles is proof positive. It is up to Alabama to grab it back, if it can. Right now, Georgia is King of the Collegiate Gridiron.

Secondly, Pollock played his football at Georgia, so he is entitled to pop his buttons. . .for now.

—QUOTE: From Alabama coach Nick Saban: “All I know is that if we play well, we control our own destiny in terms of what we do.” (And those two losses this season is why you were sitting on a TV set instead of prowling the sidelines during the CFP.)
—WHAT’S IN A NAME?: Why do quarterbacks seem to have the coolest names? Is there a better name than South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler? And there is Spencer Petras at Iowa.

Does your first name have to be Chandler to be a quarterback in Louisiana like Chandler Rogers of Louisiana-Monroe and Chandler Fields at U. of Louisiana? Army and Navy QBs have cool names — Tyhier Tyler and Tai Lavatai.

Gunnar is popular, too — Gunnar Watson at Troy and Gunnar Bazelak at Indiana. How about Ty Keyes at Southern Mississippi or Rocky Lombardi at Northern Illinois or Collin Schlee at Kent State or N’Kosi Perry at Florida International or Chase Cunningham at Middle Tennesse State or Harrison Bailey at UNLV or Riley Leonard at Duke or Hayden Wolff at Old Dominion.

But it is still hard to beat cool names likeY.A. Tittle, Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, Otto Graham Joe Montana, Boomer Esiason, Babe Parilli, Daryle Lamonica, Roman Gabriel, Vinny Testaverde, Drew Brees or Daunte Dulpepper.

OBSERVATIONS: TCU Horned Frogs Turned to Toads

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, warm and toasty on a crisp winter’s night due to a nice new heater donated to me by my great friend Jeff Gordon (No, not the former NASCAR driver, but this Jeff Gordon can make left turns, too.)

—FROG STRANGLING: Fortunately, I did not throw away 3 1/2 hours of my time that I will never get back by watching the CFP. While I watched the Michigan National Guard wipe out a prison population on ‘Mayor of Kingstown,’ Georgia was making a mockery of the college football championship.

When I checked my iPhone for the first time, I saw Georgia 65, TCU 7. 65-7? In a national title game? I laughed. I laughed out loud. I figured the game was a mismatch, but I did not expect it to be sharp scissors versus wet tissue paper.

I didn’t watch because the real national championship game was played last week. . .Georgia 42, Ohio State 41. On that day, the Bulldogs picked on somebody their own size. When they kissed the Horned Frogs, they didn’t turn into princes. They turned into Toads.

—SEND IN THE CLOWNS: Just because your name is Jadeveon Clowney doesn’t mean you have to act like a clown.

But that’s what Clowney did last Thursday when he ripped the Cleveland Browns organization and coaching staff for not appreciating him and giving preferential treatment to fellow defensive end Myles Garrett.

The 29-year-old Clowney complained in an interview with cleveland.com that he was put in difficult matchups by the coaches so Garrett could dominate. He said they were trying to put Garrett into the Hall of Fame while giving him the Rodney Dangerfield treatment. . .no respect.

The Browns sent Clowney home from Friday’s practice and he was not with the team in Pittsburgh. And good for the Browns. Clowney was putting personal feelings in front of team effort.

Clowney most likely will no longer wear orange and brown. If he signs with another team, perhaps he should first rummage through Bozo the Clown’s closet for a pair of shoes.

—STILL DEFENSELESS: More evidence that defense in the NBA is found only in the dictionary.

^The Charlotte Hornets scored 51 points in the first quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks, tying an NBA record. And they scored 84 in the first half. Is the rumor true that the Bucks didn’t show up until the start of the second half? Well, their defense never showed up.

^Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls made 11 3-pointers on 13 attempts against the 76ers. Did the league tell the 76ers they couldn’t cross the 3-point line on defense?

Something always perplexed me. Both the NFL and the colleges play 60-minute football games. Both the MLB and the colleges play nine-inning baseball games. Both the NHL and colleges play 60-minute hockey games. Both the PGA and the colleges play 18 holes of golf. Both the PBA and the colleges bowl 10 frames.

So why does the NBA play 48 minutes and the colleges play 40 minutes in basketball? Asking for myself.

—BYE-BYE BAUER: The Los Angeles Dodgers ushered pitcher Trevor Bauer out the door with a $22.5 million check in his back pocket.

They released him after he served a long suspension for domestic violence and sexual misconduct and is now eligible to pitch again.

He is a free agent and any team can sign him for the $720,000 major league minimum, with the Dodgers on the hook for the rest.

A few believe the Cincinnati Reds could use him after he won the Cy Young for them in the COVID-shortened 2020 season.

No, no, no, no. While the guy can pitch, he brings with him more distractions than attractions, more baggage than in the hold of a 747. He never gets thrown under a bus. He throws himself under a bus. And the Reds should let that bus roll on by.

—THE STEEL CURTAIN: If the Cleveland Browns are ever going to be factors in the AFC North, and that’s a monumental if, they have to find a way to quit being punching bags in Pittsburgh.

When they lost Sunday, 28-14, it was their 18th straight regular season loss to the Steelers in Pittsburgh. They last won there in 2003, 33-13. Tim Couch was the Cleveland quarterback, William Green was the runningback and Phil Dawson was the kicker.

The loss Sunday was a microcosm of this season — blown pass coverages, failure to stop the Steelers on third-and-long and quarterback Deshaun Watson taking more sacks than one finds in the Kroger potato section.

Defensive coordinator Joe Woods was The Fall Guy. He was fired after Sunday’s loss.

The biggest mystery? How do the Browns keep beating the much-better Cincinnati Bengals?

—OH, BERNIE: Speaking of the Browns and quarterbacks, what was Bernie Kosar thinking? Well, he wasn’t.

Kosar, the most popular former Browns player over the last 50 years, was fired this week as the team’s pre-game radio analyst. Why? He violated an NFL rule.

When sports betting was legalized in Ohio, he placed a $19,000 bet (he wore jersey number 19) on the Browns to beat the Steelers. Betting on NFL games while employed by an NFL team is a big ol’ no-no. . .even if it is legal for the masses.

He should have been fired for being dumb enough to bet on the Browns.

YA GOTTA LOVE LOVIE: Some huge applause for Lovie Smith and his integrity. If the Houston Texans lost Sunday, they would have the No. 1 pick in the draft. What did Smith do? He went for two late in the game and beat Indianapolis, 32-31.

And his reward? He was fired after the game, the second straight year the Texans fired their coach after one season.

Wonder if they would have kept him had the Texans lost?

—A GIANT ON ICE: Can you imagine a 7-foot-4, 290-pound kid on ice skates playing hockey? He must have looked like the Empire State Building moving on blades to the other players.

That’s where Purdue’s Zach Edey was discovered, a Goliath on ice in Toronto. They took away his stick and put a basketball in his hands.

I watched him Sunday playing Penn State in the historic Palestra. They said he never touched a basketball until four years ago, but he can certainly touch the rim. . .and maybe the top of the backboard.

He scored 30 points with the greatest of ease for the 15-1 Boilermakers as Penn State tried using a 6-foot-4 defender on him. Edey shot over him like Wilt Chamberlain shooting over Tiny Archibald.

—CASEY AT BAT AGAIN: A while back, former Reds first baseman Sean Casey, The Mayor, was a night speaker at the Dayton Agonis Club and knocked it into the upper deck.

Casey makes a return engagement in Dayton on February 3 when he is the keynote speaker at ‘The First Pitch,’ a yearly dinner put on at the Nutter Center by the Wright State University baseball team.

^And on January 28, San Diego Padres pitcher and University of Dayton product Craig Stammen and I will share the podium at Wilmington College’s First Pitch Cook-off at the Clinton County Fairgrounds.

Tickets are $75 and information can be obtained by e-mailing coach Tony Vittorio at tony_vittorio@wilmington.edu.