OBSERVATIONS: The Good and the Bad from WBC

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, where the heater is asking for overtime because it works all day, from first NCAA tip-off to last NCAA horn, with some NIT and some World Baseball Classic sprinkled in.

—A TOUGH BREAK: That was a thriller in the World Baseball Classic Saturday night, a USA comeback win over Venezuela, 9-7. With his team down, 7-5, in the eighth inning, Trea Turner hit a grand slam home run.

But one had to feel empathy for the Venezuelan pitcher, Silvino Bracho. He came into the game to face Turner with the bases loaded and threw an 0-and-2 change-up right down Route 1 and Turner hit it into the Great Beyond.

Bracho, 30, was signed by the Cincinnati Reds to a minor league contract with an invitation to the major league camp. He has made three appearances this spring — three innings, one run, two hits, three walks and a strikeout.

He has been trying to stay in the majors since his debut in 2015 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. In six seasons, he made 95 appearances for 94 innings and was 2-and-2 with a 4.88 earned run average.

The empathy part? Bracho’s 30-year-old sister, Yuniedes, was killed in an automobile accident, so Bracho and his wife, Evenilly, adopted his sister’s young son.

Clearly, the guy is a class act.

—WORKING AT HOME: Umpiring behind the plate is the most difficult job in baseball, where the umpire has to call 300 or more balls and strikes per game.

That didn’t bother Hall of Fame umpire Bill Klem. As a senior umpire, The Old Arbitrator assigned himself to home plate for every game during the latter part of his 16-year career, never working the bases.

A young writer once questioned a call and Klem said, “Young man, I’ve never missed a call in my heart.”

Former American League umpire/comedian Ron Luciano described an umpire’s home plate duties this way:

“In addition to balls and strikes calls, an umpire must keep the game moving, handle lineup changes, argue with plays at home plate, argue with the catcher, argue with the pitcher, take care of the baseball supply, cover plays at home plate, check the bats and baseballs to make sure players aren’t making illegal alterations, work with the official scorer and agrue with the batter.”

He forgot the most important thing: Cleaning off home plate with a whisk broom.”

—SHOCK AND AWE: So you thought Wichita State was the Shockers? Now we all know who Fairleigh-Dickinson is, right? Do we know Tobin Anderson? He is FD’s coach and he said to his team before the Purdue game, “Let’s go shock the world.”

Well, by beating Purdue, the Knights certainly shocked nearly everybody who filled out a bracket sheet. And do you believe what Purdue coach Matt Painters said? “Ninety-nine times out of 100, we would beat them. This was the one.”

I don’t believe it because Purude has lost six times to double-digit seeds in the NCAA. In its last three appearances, the Boilermakers have lost to number 13, 15 and 16 seeds. Fortunately for them they can’t lose to a No. 17 seed. There is no such thing.

Where did FDU get its name? Colonel Fairleigh S. Dickinson was an early benefactor. After the Purdue shocker, he was promoted to Major General Fairleigh S. Dickinson.

Side Note: Shouldn’t Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson be playing for Fairleigh Dickinson? Nope. At 7-foot-1, he is way too tall. FD’s tallest player is 6-foot-6.

—TREE-HUGGERS: The Guttiest Team Trophy goes to the University of Oregon basketball team. The Ducks played the first round of the NIT with three starters on the bench with injuries. And they beat UC-Irvine, 84-58.

Of course, the game was played at Oregon, where the floor is painted all over with trees and the Anteaters (UC-Irvine) probably couldn’t see the basket through the branches.

—DIGGING DEEP: Some stuff that surfaces while passing time learning things during March Madness & Sadness:

**West Virginia has no players on its roster from West Virgina, so how can anybody call it Mountain Momma?

**There is a player on the Montanta State roster from Palmer, Alaska, population: 6,094. He must have played a lot of one-on-one.

**UC Santa Barbara has players on its roster from Sudan, Serbia, Kenya, Belgium and Croatia. . .and a couple from California, which some people believe is a foreign country.

**Iona has no players from New York, but has players from Ghana, Nigeria, Ireland and Rwanda. Wonder how many languages coach Rick Pitino knows. . .or does he have a team of interpreters follow him.

**Texas A&M-Corpus Chrisit has a 7-foot-3 sophomore on its roster, Connor Kern, who didn’t get into the game when the Islanders played in the First Four in Dayton. The poor kid must not be able to run the floor without tripping over the foul line.

**Furman, which upset Virginia in the first round (I picked that one on my sheet) has a player from Xenia, Alex Williams. He scored six points in 25 minutes on 2 for 5 shoot, 1 of 2 from three. And after bragging about picking Furman, my pick to win it all was Arizona. I used my bracket sheet to light a cigar.

**The Mountain West had lost 11 straight first-round games until San Diego State beat the College of Charleston, 63-57. Yes, I picked CofC to win this one and SD State turned it into ashes.

—FOREIGN AFFAIRS: If there ever was a question that college basketball isn’t international, it astounded me after I researched it and discovered that 47 different countries are represented on the 68 teams that qualified for the NCAA tournament.

Take a deep breath and read this list that sounds like the United Nations:

Canada, Australia, Argentina, Russia, Sudan, Croatia, Belgium, Turkey, Serbia, France, Sweden, Lithuania, Mali, Estonia, Mali, Togo.

Dominican Republic, Nigeria, The Bahamas, Congo, Cameroon, Angola, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Ireland, Italy, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Ghana, Rwanda, England, Israel, Kenya.

Slovenia, Barbados, Netherlands, New Zealand, Ukraine, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Spain, Greece, Nicaragua, Romania, Uruguay, Suriname, Finland.

—WHAT’S IN A NAME?: There are so many boring nicknames of teams in the NCAA tournament — too many Tigers, too many Wildcats, too many Bulldogs.

Fortunately, there are a slew of team with nicknames nobody else uses, like if you say Volunteers, you know it’s Tennessee or if you say Crimson Tide you know it’s Alabama.

Some others: Sun Devils (Arizona State), Razorbacks (Arkansas), Paladins (Furman), Fighting Illini (Illinois), Hoosiers (Indiana), Golden Flashes (Kent State), Ragin’ Cajuns (Louisiana), Terrapins (Maryland), Norse (Northern Kentucky), Boilermakers (Purdue).

Aztecs (San Diego State), Horned Frogs (TCU), Longhorns (Texas), Gauchos (UC Santa Barbara), Catamounts (Vermont), Musketeers (Xavier).

Unfortunately, the Banana Slugs (UC Santa Cruz), the Anteaters (UC Irvine), the Salukis (Southern Illinois), the Mastadons (Purdue-Fort Wayne), the Jaspers (Manhattan) and the Blue Hose (Presbyterian) didn’t make the NCAA field.

Fun Stuff From the UD Arena Floor

By Hal McCoy

SOME FUN STUFF OFF THE ink-stained cuff –comments, quips and absurdities from court-side at UD Arena for the NCAA First Four:

The NCAA First Four in Dayton is a basketball hoop-hoot. The tournament committee usually sends four teams to UD Arena that fans recognize and four teams that could rob a Bank One and nobody would recognize them.

And, behold, fans fill the Arena, meaning Daytonians love basketball, no matter what, or we’re a bunch of easily-duped dummies. Yeah, dumb like a porpoise. The event dumps more than $5.5 million into the Dayton area economy.

Ever hear of Fairleigh Dickinson? Me, neither. The school has four campuses — two in New Jersey, one in the United Kingdom and one in Canada. If I’ve ever met an alumnus, I don’t know about it. They probably didn’t want you to know.

Ever hear of Southeast Missouri State, or SEMO? Oh, yeah? What is the team’s nickname and where is it located? They are the Redhawks and the school is in Cape Girardeau, Missouri since the original campus burned down in 1902.

I once traveled to Cape Girardeau with the University of Dayton football team and discovered that we weren’t in the middle of nowhere, but you could see it from the second floor of the Motel 6.

They do have a recognizable name, a blast from the past. His name is Chris Harris, same name as the Chris Harris who played for the University of Dayton in the 1950s and later tried to sell us televisions via TV commercials.

SEMO’s Harris led his team with 23 points and the Redhawks made 27 field goals to 22 by Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. But SEMO was whistled for 31 personal fouls and T-A&M-CC made 27 of 35. SEMO? They made 9 of 20.

SEMO is one of those teams that found a lucky charm in the grass. They finished third in the Ohio Valley Conference (10-8) and was 19-16 overall. But they won four games in four days in the OVC tournament, beating Tennessee Tech, 89-82, in overtime in the finals. So on Tuesday night, down the stretch, their legs were so wobbly they looked like newborn giraffes.

Along the way, SEMO lost to two Horizon League opponents, Milwaukee (84-68) and Purdue-Fort Wayne (89-68). And they were obliterated by Iowa, 106-75.

So, as they took the UD Arena floor to appear on national television, it was like, “What are they doing here?”

Ever hear of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi? Not just Texas A&M, we know about them. We’re talking about the Corpus Christi branch. The team is known as the Islanders because, well, the campus is on an island. And the school is sometimes called Island University.

I checked the roster. No Gilligans on the team.

Ever hear of Texas Southern. There is no Texas Northern or Texas Eastern. I looked it up. There used to be a Texas Western, but now it is Texas-El Paso.

That reminds me of Johnny Carson’s character, ‘Carnac the Magnificent.’ He would mystically give the question and answer to anything in an envelope held to the side of his forehead. He would guess the answer first, then give the question.

My favorite. . .The Answer: El Paso. The question: “What does a Mexican quarterback do when he can’t El Runo or El Punto?”

But I digress. Texas Southern is located in Houston. If somebody gives you the choice between going to Hell or to Houston, pick Hell. Hell is not as hot as Houston.

Texas Southern is an historically black school and is known as the Tigers. Shouldn’t they be Black Tigers? When I was in high school, we played the Cuyahoga Falls Black Tigers and they didn’t have a black kid in the entire school.

The TSU campus is noted for the amount of trees it preserves and I saw five of ‘em standing at center court for the jump ball. But they weren’t very sturdy.

Corpus Christi had its own, “Are you kidding me?” moments during its 23-10 season. When they put on big boy pants, they were destroyed by Oklahoma State, 81-58, and by Arizona, 98-61. However, they probably qualified for the NCAA tournament with that astounding 88-74 win over Our Lady of the Lake (I’m not kidding, that’s a real school).

Hey, they only lost to Xavier by one, 67-66. . .whoops! That was Xavier of Louisiana.

For the women (show this to the spouses). The prettiest uniforms belonged to Pitt. . .and no, I can’t describe ‘em because Oleg Cassini and I have nothing in common.

And can you believe Pitt has a player with the first name of Nike? Guess what kind of shoes he wore? Yep. Converse. His fulll name is Nike Sibande, a transfer from Miami of Ohio.

My favorite player, though, was Pitt’s 7-foot-0 Guillermo “Stick Legs” Diaz Graham from the Canary Islands, Spain. He could have been the world’s tallest, skinniest bull fighter. And. . .he has a twin brother on the team, but Jorge Guillermo Diaz is only 6-foot-11.

Mississippi State has a player named Tyler Stevenson, who should have been in spring training with the Cincinnati Reds, right? Oh, that’s right. The Reds catcher spells it Stephenson. Close enough.

Texas Southern came into the tournament (and went out quickly) with a 14-20 record. How in the name of James Naismith does a team with 20 losses get to put on its dancin’ sneakers?

They qualified by winning the SWAC tournament. They beat Grambling in the finals, a team that beat them twice during the regular season.

The Tigers, though, took on all comers during the regular season and weren’t afraid to operate in enemy territory. They lost to four NCAA tournament qualifiers — Houston, Kansas, Oral Roberts and Auburn. And they beat one of the other First Four qualifiers, Arizona State, 67-66 in overtime.

While losing to Fairleigh Dickinson, 84-61, Wednesday, they couldn’t drop the ball into the Great Miami River from the railings of the Stewart Stree bridge. They were 1 for 17 from three. They couldn’t have won this one if the NCAA gave them an extrac 22 points for their extraordinary dance team, cheerlers and ear-splitting brass band.

Not even Shaquille O’Neal’s son, Shaqir, could help Texas Southern. . .not sitting on the bench without taking off his warm-up. And at 6-7, 185 pounds he is definitely not The Diesel II.

The final game was supposed to involve a bunch of brilliant brain cells from the fertile coaching minds of Arizona State’s Bobby Hurley and Nevada’s Steve Alford. But Arizona State left Nevada brain dead, 98-73, the most points scored by one team in First Four history.

The only noteworthy fact was that Arizona State has two Ohio State transfers on its roster — 6-3 red shirt senior Luther Muhammad and 6-9 senior Alonzo Gaffney from Cleveland.

Hurley’s son, Bobby, plays for Nevada. Well, he wears a Nevada uniform but daddy doesn’t let him play much.

So who won the four games? Doesn’t matter. They’ll all be packing away their sneaker very soon, but it was fun for two days. . .for four of the eight teams.


By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, adding to my college basketball fix by attending the NCAA First Four at UD Arena, even though I can’t name a single starter on any of the eight teams. Fairleigh Dickinson? It has two campuses in New Jersey, one in the United Kingdom and one in Canada. I looked it up.

—MORE THIEVERY?: A recent spring training game between the Washington Nationals and New York Mets consisted of 17 runs, 33 base runners and 14 pitchers. And the game lasted 2 hours and 23 minutes. So is the pitch clock working? You betcha.

And this from Hall of Fame baseball writer Jayson Stark, one of my favorites, writing about the success of prompting stolen bases with the bigger bags and the limit on pickoff attempts.

In the first two weeks of spring training, the Cincinnati Reds were 23 for 26 in stolen bases. The Yankees were 18 for 20, the Braves were 17 for 21, the Rockies were 17 for 20 and the Royals were 17 for 18.

So it looks as if MLB teams are going to steal away this season.

—QUOTE: From former Houston catcher Alan Ashby when asked what his licence plate (SBE2) meant: “That means stolen base, error on the catcher.”

—GLOWERING GIBBY: Houston manager Dusty Baker likes to tell the story about when he was a rookie about to face St. Louis pitcher Bob Gibson for the first time. Henry Aaron pulled Baker aside and said, “Don’t dig in, he’ll knock you down. He’d knock down his grandmother if she dared to challenge him. If you happen to hit a home run, don’t run too slow, don’t run too fast. If you want to celebrate, do it in the tunnel first. And if he hits you, don’t challenge him. He’s a Golden Gloves boxer.”

Said Baker to Aaron, “Damn, what about my 17-game hitting streak?” That was the night it ended.

—COMEBACK KID: Perhaps Wright State basketball star Trey Calvin saw what happened to Tanner Holden.

Before last season, Holden transferred from WSU to Ohio State after he averaged 20.1 points a game, 7.1 rebounds and 34.4 minutes a gam for the Raiders.

At Ohio State this season all he did was wear out the seat of his pants sitting on the bench. He averaged only 13 1/2 minutes a game and 3.6 points.

Meanwhile, Calvin led the Raiders with 20.3 points, 34.4 minutes. . .and he isn’t going anywhere. He is returning to Wright State for a fifth year.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. WSU’s other transfer before last season was Grant Basile to Virginia Tech. He led the Hokies with a 16.4 average and 5.3 rebounds.

—EIGHT ISN’T ENOUGH: Every year since 2016, ESPN picks eight teams before the NCAA tournament, saying one of the eight will win it all. So far, they’ve picked a winner every year.

This year they say the winner will be one of these eight: Alabama, UConn, Houston, Kansas, Marquette, Purdue, Tennessee or UCLA.

I say they’re wrong this year. The glass slipper is about to fit a Cinderella team this year. All eight ESPN picks are highly beatable.

But don’t put the bread, milk and eggs money on Kennesaw State, Princeton, Vermont, Saint Mary’s, Boise State, UC Santa Barbara, Grand Canyon State, Montana State, Colgate or Howard. As far as Cinderella goes, those teams are the Ugly Sisters.

—(SEC) Some Exciting Contenders: The SEC is more evidence why college basketball is so fascinating. Before the semifinals of the SEC tournament, all the blue bloods were gone — Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida.

Left standing in the semifinals were two schools recently admitted to the SEC, Missouri and Texas A&M, usual also-ran Vanderbilt and football factory Alabama.

—QUOTE: From Sister Jean, the 104-year-old chaplain for Loyola of Chicag’s basketball team on whether God is a basketball fan: “He probably is. And he probably is more of the NCAA than the NBA. God always hears prayers, but maybe he thinks it’s better for us to do the L instead of the W and we have to accept that.”

—LEFT IS RIGHT: Yale is now one of my favorite teams, even though they are an NIT team. The Bulldogs put five left handers on the floor at the same time. I’m so left handed that surgeons can remove my right arm and my right leg and it won’t affect anything I do.

During the first minute of Yale’s semifinal game in the Ivy League tournament, lefty (of course) guard August Mahoney had his No. 3 jersey ripped off his back. He put on No. 5, but still ripped off threes against Cornell.

—BUCKEYE BOYS: The web-site Eleven Warriors quickly researched the 68-team NCAA tournament field and discovered there are 39 players from Ohio playing on 20 of the teams.

Wonder how many are from Indiana, California and Florida? Alaska didn’t make it. They are all out dog sledding.

—YOU’RE AS COLD AS ICE: The Harvard University women’s hockey program is in hot water (won’t that melt the ice?) for an alleged systematic hazing of players.

One of the events is called The Naked Skate. Players strip to their birthday suits and put on nothng but skates. Some were required to do Superman belly flops. Now that’s cold.

—THAT’S FISHY: Once you’ve tried the whitefish sandwich at Harrison’s restaurant in Tipp City, you’ll be hooked.

The pancakes at Mom’s Restaurant in Franklin are as big as truck tires and that’s the flat-out truth. It takes a gallon bottle of maple syrup to cover them.

The Bolognese Tony’s Style at Ray’s
Grill in Englewood is not only scrumtious, the portion is big enough to feed Mussolini’s army.


By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, enjoying one of the best times of the year. . .spring training, March Madness and warmer weather.

—CAP-PING IT OFF: It is common knowledge that the only way to bring parity into major league baseball is a salary cap. It works in every other professional sport.

Will it ever happen in MLB? Never. The players won’t let it happen. They only care about making $300 million. The kids have to eat, y’know.

How do we know it won’t happen? Listen to Tony Clark, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA).

“We’re never going to agree to a cap,” he said. “We don’t have a cap, we’re not going to agree to a cap. A salary cap is the ultimate restrictions on player value and player salary. The market system has served our players, our teams and our game very well.”

The players, yes. The teams and the game, no.

The owners, though, are their own worst enemies. They want a salary cap, but they spend, spend, spend. Clark’s best friend right now is the San Diego Padres.

The small market Padres are projected to have baseball’s third highest payroll at $267 million, third only to the New York Mets and New York Yankees. The Padres are in a group of the seven smallest markets.

“San Diego is the best example, (a team) providing a level of engagement for their fans, and a level of excitement in being one of the seven smallest markets we have, it begs the question, why others aren’t,” said Clark. “It’s very clear that the owners of the San Diego Padres want to compete. It should be celebrated, not questioned.”

And right now, the Padres are the exception. They have rich owners, so the market doesn’t matter. Try selling this thought process to Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Oakland, Cleveland, Detroit and so many others that enter the season hoping they aren’t eliminated by Mother’s Day.

—QUOTE: From author/philosopher Michael Bassey Johnson: “A poor man knows the true value of money and will not dare waste it, but a rich man is extravagant and always looking for an opportunity to empty his pockets.” (They certainly are emptying their pockets, wallets and bank accounts in San Diego.)

—MARK OF EXCELLENCE: We lost my great friend, Mark Schlemmer, way too soon. After years of fighting a litany of health issues, and never once saying, ‘Why me?,’ Schlemmer passed away last June at age 65.

He was an extremely popular sports talk show host on WING after a stellar baseball career at Fairmont West and a brief stint in the Detroit Tigers farm system.

To commemorate his legacy, loyal reader Bob Burckle and some of Schlemmer’s teammates have establihed a memorial scholarship fund through the Dayton Foundation to be awarded yearly to a Fairmont High School baseball players. Well done and well-deserved.

Though they weren’t related, my favorite baseball writer growing up was Jim Schlemmer of the Akron Beacon Journal. He wrote a memorable line after pitcher Bob Feller took a line drive in his groin area. Penned Schlemmer, “Bob Feller was hit by a line drive where only a feller could be hit.”

—QUOTE: From Mark Schlemmer from his obituary in The Dayton Daily News: “The best part of sports talk radio is the interaction with fans. I love all the callls from our audience. It’s not my show, it is the callers’ show. It’s important to keep that in mind.” (And that’s what made Mark so good.)
—LEIGHTON’S LOVE STORY: A few days after former Flyer Brooks Hall was inducted into the University of Dayton Sports Hall of Fame, another former Flyer, Leighton Moulton, posted this love story on Facebook:

“I was asked if I had to do it again, would I choose UD. Absolutely. Would I live in Dayton? Absolutely. UD was first class. We had a lot of perks going on. I can’t recall one Flyer under coach Don Donoher that wasn’t looked after. There were four of us that started in 1972. In 1976 I was the only one that finished the race. I’ll never forget that last game and the standing ovation. Truly grateful.”

It is something one hears from nearly every Flyer who finishes the race. The Flyer Faithful considers them all winners when they break the tape.

—QUOTE: From former Kansas City manager Jim Frey, talking about George Brett’s ability to make contact: “George Brett could get good wood on an aspirin.” (Yep, when Brett came to bat, pitchers had to Bayer with him.)

—DIVINE INTERVENTION: All indications are that Antoine Davis is a super guy. . .humble and kind. But wasn’t it poetic justice that in his last game with Detroit Mercy against Youngstown State that he missed his last six shots, including a three-pointer at the buzzer?

That left him exactly three points behind Pete Maravich’s all-time career points record of 3,667. The kicker on all this is that Maravich, playing three years, did it in 83 games. It took Davis five years and 142 games.

There are two records Davis earned. He scored in double figures in all 142 of his games. And he holds the NCAA all-time three-point record with 588. The three-point line was not on the floor for Maravich. If Davis’ three-pointers are converted to twos, that’s 591 fewer points than Pistol Pete.

Although God could not care less who hits three-pointers or who misses free throws, Davis showed his great attitude after the game when he said, “God knows what he is doing, at the end of the day.”

—AN EXTRA STEAL: Wright State was the only Horizon League team to beat Milwaukee twice during the regular season. Then they played in the HL tournament and when it was Milwaukee 32, WSU 12 late in the first half I turned it off because It was like a crocodile devouring a zebra on TikTok.

The Raiders lost, 87-70. Milwaukee pulled off five steals and somebody pulled off another steal in the parking lot. After having to call that mess on the radio, outsanding play-by-play guy Chris Collins trudged to the parking lot only to find his rental car was stolen. The thief didn’t even have the courtesy to leave Collins a thank you note.

—QUOTE: From Hall of Fame umpire Doug Harvey on Barry Bonds pausing at home plate to admire his steroid-induced home runs: “. . .If he hit a home run off Bob Gibson or Don Drysdale and stood and admired it, they’d knock that earring out of his ear next time up.” (And under today’s game, Gibson and Drysdale would be thrown out of the game.)

—CANDLES IN THE WIND: From Tom Melzoni, my great friend in Sarasota: “Blowing out somebody’s candle doesn’t make yours shine brighter.”

—SHORT HOPS: The Dayton Dragons at 69-61 were the only Cincinnati Reds affiliate to finish above .500 last season (How about that rebuild?). . .It took a jury in South Carolina less time to find Alex Murdaugh guilty of double murder than it takes most MLB reviews. . .TV folks: It is not Duke VERSE North Carolina. It is Duke VERSUS North Carolina. . .Does it seem to anybody else that Lafayette and Lehigh play evey week?. . .Why does Northwestern wear white uniforms with blue and red trim at home when the school’s colors are purple and white?

They’re naming a portion of I5 in Los Angeles ‘Tommy Lasorda Highway.’ Said broadcaster Rick Monday, “Just don’t ask the highway how traffic is?” (That was a reference to Lasorda’s many blue-language eruptions with the media, especially when somebody asked him about Dave Kingman’s three-homer game against the Dodgers). . .By now, does anybody care where diva quarterback Aaron Rodgers lands, or if he does land. What a cheesehead. . .What am I going to do with the extra half hour MLB is giving me every night this season?.











By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, watching a Houston Astros-New York Mets exhibition game for no apparent reason other than. . .IT’S BASEBALL.

—PETE, MEET PETE: Pete Rose has company on the banned-from-baseball list and his name is Pete.

A minor-league pitcher named Pete Bayer was banisheed in 2020 during the pandemic when all minor league games were canceled.

MLB’s investigators said that Bayer, with nothing to do, bet on close to 100 games between May and August. And he allegedly bet on Oakland Athletics games, the organization for whom he pitched.

He has appealed his banishment but, like the other Pete, it has been denied.

—A ‘TONY’ AWARD: Another amazing fact surrounding Tony Gwynn. We all know that Peter Edward Rose is The Hit King. . .4,256 hits. His career batting average is .303.

Tony Gwynn’s career batting average is .338. Now let this one sink in. For Rose to equal Gyann’s .338 average, he would have to go 750 for 750. Don’t believe it? Get out your calculator, as I did, then shake you head in amazement.

—GRAND SLAM TIMES TWO: Has anybody ever had an inning like this? During Northern Kentucky’s 27-4 win over Western Michigan, NKU designated hitter Liam McFadden-Ackman hit two grand slam home runs. . .in the first inning. NKU scored 14 runs in the first inning.

If that weren’t enough, McFadden-Ackman, a graduate of Mason High School, hit for the cycle.

As they say, “Have a day, Liam.”

**The only major league hitter to hit two grand slams in one inning is Fernando Tatis Sr., but he didn’t do it in the first inning and he didn’t hit for the cycle.

Pitcher Tony Cloninger hit two grand slams in one game. The all-time slammer is Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod hit 25 grand slams against 25 different pitchers and 16 different teams.

**And there have been 225 inside-the-park grand slam home runs. The last one was hit last July by Toronto outfielder Raimel Tapia against the Boston Red Sox.

**One of the most noteworthy inside-the-park grand slam was hit by Pittsburgh’s Roberto Clemente on July 25, 1956 in old Forbes Field.

It was a walk-off inside-the-park grand slam. The Pirates trailed the Chicao Cubs, 8-5, in the bottom of the ninth. Clemente hit the ball off a light tower stanchion against eventual Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jim Brosnan. The ball scoooted along the cinder warning track. And Clemente ran through third base coach Bobby Bragan’s stop sign to score and end the game. . .9-8, Pirates.

—VOTTO’S TWILIGHT ZONE: Sometimes it appears that Joey Votto is an alien from another planet. When MLB asked on Twitter, “Drop your boldest NL Central prediction,” Votto replied:

“Extra-terrestrials arrive on Earth, April 15th. The 12-2 Reds and the rest of the planet learn from, communicate with, and learn from our alien friends. This process takes five months. Play returns in October. Reds sweep the playoffs and are World Series champions.

“Side note: Aliens ask if I’d like to accompany them back to their planet. I oblige. Never to be heard from again.”

Don’t be surprised if Votto wears a tin foil batting helmet this season.

—HUNT-ING BODY BLOWS: When Ron Hunt played for the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers, he was ‘A Walking Bruise.’ His favorite colors were black-and-blue.

He was a master at getting hit by a pitch. . . .a record 243 times for his career, a record 50 times in one season and a record three times (tied) in one game. And he did it with none of the body armor they were today that turns a hitter fearless.

As he once said, “Some people give their bodies to science, but I give mine to baseball.”

Hunt’s approach: “View being hit in a positive light. You will be getting on base and helping your team as well as improving your on-base percentage.” (Yeah, easy for him to say.)

—CONFERENCE CALLS: An ESPN panel of four college basketball gurus is predicting the outcomes of all 32 Division I conference tournment winners. The panel includes bracketologist Joe Lunardi, an honorary member of the Dayton Agonis Club. By a vote of 3-1, the panel picks Dayton to win the Atlantic 10. The other vote went to VCU.

The four guys unanimously picked 11 teams, including Youngstown State in the Horizon and Kent State in the MAC.

The other nine unanimous picks: Houston (AAC), Vermont (American East), Yale (Ivy), Iona (MAAC), San Diego State (Mountain West), Colgate (Patriot), Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Southland), Oral Roberts (Summit) and Grambling (SWAC).

Educated guess. If they get six right they’ll be fortunate. Upsets in conference tournaments are a penny a baker’s dozen.

A CUPCAKE WITH DOUBLE ICING: For some strange reason, Gonzaga scheduled a non-conference game Wednesday night against Chicago State. University of Dayton transfer Elijah Weaver is averaging 12.5 points a game for Chicago State, which is 11-18 with most of its wins coming against schools that I was surprised to discover fielded basketball teams. Gonzaga is 25-5 and No. 10 in the AP poll.

Not surprisingly, Gonzaga was 27 1/2-point favorites. I would not spot 27 1/2 points to the Little Sisters of the Free Throw Line.

Gonzaga won by 39, 104-65, but I still wouldn’t spot anybody 27 1/2 points.

—A PUSH AND A SHOVE: The Philadelphia Eagles came up with a rugby-like play last season for quarterback Jalen Hurts. When he employs a quarterback sneak on short yardage plays, the runnigback shoves him from behind. The play succeeded in 29 of the 32 times the Eagles used it.

Until 2005, shoving a ball carrier from behind was illegal. The NFL took it off the books that year and nothing was thought of it. . .until the Eagles used it.

Now, 18 years later, the NFL is considering making the push-the-ball carrier play illegal again.

Why? Because opposing defensive co-ordinators are sniffing that they can’t stop it. Hey, guys, man up.

—AM-BUSCHED: Less than 24 hours before NASCAR’s Pennzoil 400 in Las Vegas, Kyle Busch’s back-up car was in more pieces than a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle.

The No. 18 Toyota was a shell of a car, a frame and nothing else. Not even an engine. But his crew needed to put it together because Busch’s number one car was destroyed.

In seven hours, the crew hammered the car together and Busch led the race with three laps to go. But a caution flag intervened and he finished fourth.

Amazing. And to think, auto dealerships need seven days to find a rattle in my driver’s side window.

—GETTING PANCAKED: Walked into Sam & Ethel’s in Tipp City for breakfast last Sunday and the hostess asked my name.

“McCoy,” I said. And she said, “Oh, I’m a Hatfield.” I turned to Nadine and said, “We’re out of here. I don’t want arsenic in my omelette.”

But we stayed. I ordered a Western Omelette and two pancakes. The Hatfield lady said, “Two pancakes? Have you eaten here before?”

I assured her I had. Then when the pancakes arrived, I remembered. They were the size of the left front tire on Kyle Busch’s race car. I ate one.


OBSERVATIONS: Baseball is on ‘The Clockj’

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, waiting for Nadine to put a clock in the cave to give me eight seconds to leave my La-Z-Boy and get to the dinner table. The Penalty? I have to eat the broccoli and asparagus.

—TICK TOCK ON THE CLOCK: Leave it to new New York Mets pitcher Max Scherzer to make magic with MLB’s new pitch clock. From the time the pitcher catches the ball from the catcher, he has 15 seconds to deliver a pitch, 20 seconds if there is a runner on base.

In his spring debut against the Washington Nationals, his first batter was CJ Abrams. The at bat lasted seven pitches and it took only two minutes. Then he struck out Joey Maneses on three pitches. That at bat was over in a blink, 24 seconds.

What hasn’t been much publicized is that the pitch clock affects the hitter, too. A batter must be in the box, ready to hit, before the pitch clock reaches eight seconds. San Diego’s Manny Machado discovered it in his first at bat this spring. He wasn’t in the box on time and a strike was called on him.

That rule might more affect the hitter than the pitcher. Baltimore’s top prospect, pitcher Grayson Rodriguez, pitched in the minors with the shot clock and loves it.

“I was a big fan of it,” he said. “Obviously, it speeds up the game. As a pitcher, it’s kind of what you want. Big league hitters take a long time to get to the plate. That drives me crazy, so this pitch clock kind of expedites the process, I like it a lot.”

Remember when it took Sean Casey at least 60 seconds between pitches to re-wrap both batting gloves, adjust his cup, adjust his hat and shake hands with the catcher and umpire before getting into the box. . .before every pitch? No more.

—JUST ANOTHER J.V.: The Cincinnati Reds opened their exhibition season Saturday against the Cleveland. . .OK,I surrender. . .Guardians. J.V. was at first base, but not Joey Votto. It was Jason Vosler.

Who is Jason Vosler? The last two seasons he played for the San Francisco Giants, 77 games and 193 plate appearances. In those 77 games he played third base, second base, shortstop, first base left field and right field.

His career slash line is .228/.306/.421 and he has seven homers and 21 RBI. He signed a free agent minor league contract. . .and the real J.V., Joey Votto, has nothing to worry about.

Vosler was 0 for 2 Saturday, but the Reds won, 4-3, on Matt McLain’s walk-off home run. McLain was the Reds’ No. 1 draft pick (17th overall) in the 2021 draft out of UCLA.

—THE ‘TONY’ AWARD: Every time I hear about another of Tony Gwynn’s accomplishments, I shake my head and say, “How is that possible?”

The latest: Gwynn faced Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux 107 times and not once did Gwynn strike out. Not once.

OK, you say. . .Maddux
was not a strikeout pitcher and Gwynn was a contact hitter. Well, Hall of Fame pitcher
PedrMartinez was a strikeout pitcher and he faced Gynn 36 times and not once did he strike him out. Not once.

—QUOTE: From Greg Maddux, talking about getting hitters out: “If a pitcher can change speeds, every hitter is helpless, limited by human vision. Except for that bleeping Tony Gwynn.”

—AND THE WINNER WAS. . .: It isn’t often they fill the 7,917-seat Calihan Hall for Detroit Mercy basketball games. They filled it Saturday to watch Antoine Davis pursue in five seasons what Pete Maravich did in three years (and without the three-point shot), set the NCAA Division I career scoring record.

What they got was The Trey Calvin Show. The Wright State guard scored 34 points. Yes, Davis also scored 34, but he launched 33 shots to get there. Calvin shot 18 times.

And Calvin and WSU captured the big prize, an 82-71 victory that earned the Raiders a home game Tuesday in the first round of the Horizon League tournament.

—QUOTE: From Antoine Davis on what he does in the summer to sharpen his shooting: “It’s a certain amount of shots I get up. I try in the summer to get 2,000 shots up a day. I’m always around there, 2,000 to 2,500. Maybe even 3,000 sometimes. “ (There are games when it seems he takes 2,000 shots. As my son, Brian, once said, “ You can’t make ‘em if you don’t shoot ‘em.”)

—SCORE, SCORE, SCORE: And here is more on the ‘defenseless’ NBA. Final score: Sacramento Kings 176, Los Angeles Clippers 175, double overtime. De’Aaron Fox scored 42 and wasn’t his team’s leading scorer. Malik Monk came off the bench to score 45. The teams combined for 44 three-pointers, some launched from the balconies.

There was a wild rumor floating out there that one team got at least one defensive stop. I checked the tape. Couldn’t find it.

—NOT A WINTER SPORT?: The MLS (that’s professional soccer) postponed its Opening Day game in Los Angeles between the LA Galaxy and Los Angeles FC due to a winter storm. A winter storm in LA? Doesn’t that only happen on film sound stages like ‘Frozen?’

What’s next? A pro beach volleyball game called off due to too much sand or an NHL game canceled because the arena was too cold?

—CHECKING HIM OUT: The University of Dayton baseball team ran into a strange happenstance. On the night before the Flyers were to play a game at the University of Tennessee, Vols coach Tony Vitello was suspended for the weekend.

The NCAA and school officials are checking into possible violations in the program. Without their coach, the Vols (No. 2 in the nation) beat the Flyer on Friday, 12-2. And the Flyers lost Saturday, 4-1.

—BOO BUCKS: My seven-month old Havanese puppy, Parker, made a commentary on the Ohio State football season. She pulled my Ohio State pajama bottoms out of the clothes hamper and chewed a hole in the seat.

I am keeping my University of Dayto pajama bottoms out of her reach.
—‘LOVE’ SONGS: Nadine shakes her head and rolls here green eyes when I head for The Man Cave to watch a game, carrying a ham and cheese sandwich. . .with ketchup on it. Ketchup? Then she sits down to eat a cup of cottage cheese with barbecue sauce on it. Barbecue sauce?

Anyway, here are some of my favorite ‘love’ songs: Power of Love (Laura Branigan), I Will Always Love You (Whitney Houston), Wonderful Tonight (Eric Clapton), Amazed (Lonestar), Forever and Ever (Randy Travisd), Can’t Help Falling in Love With You (Elvis Presley), Lady in Red (Chris De Burgh), If You Leave Me Now (Chicago).

I Want To Know What Love Is (Foreigner), I Can’t Fight This Feeling (REO Sppedwagon), I Won’t Do That (Meat Loaf), First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (Roberta Flack), Making Love Out of Nothing At All (Air Supply), Three Times a Lady (Lionel Richie), Lady (Kenny Rogers).

OBSERVATIONS: Turning the Time Machine Back to 1995

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, still blurry-eyed and seeing double after laser surgery to my left eye this week. . .and some people believe I’m always blurry-eyed and seeing double.

—LEATHER LUNGS?: One of the last times the Cincinnati Reds displayed any modicum of success, the general manager was Jim Bowden, or as broadcaster Marty Brennaman called him, ‘Ol Leatherpants.’

It was 1995 and the Reds made it to the NLCS. But they were shoved out the door in four straight by the Atlanta Bragves. Although the first two games went extra innings, the Reds scored five runs in four games while losing by 2-1 (11), 6-2 (10), 5-2 and 6-0.

One of the Reds best hitters, outfielder Reggie Sanders, was 2 for 16 with 10 strikeouts. Sanders, one of the truly nice guys in the game, was the butt of many jokes after that series. One writer (not me) penned, “Reggie Sanders did a grand imitation of Casey at the Bat and he didn’t even need a bat.”

Bowden now writes for The Athletic and recently graded the off-season activities of all 30 MLB teams. He gave the Reds a ‘D.’

“The rebuilding Reds did little to help the major league team,” he wrote. “They weren’t able to swing deals for any significant prospects at the (trade) deadline like they did last year.

“The Reds are the last-place team in this (National League Central) division and will be near the top of the draft for years to come,” he added. “Their farm system is now stocked with talented and elite athletes. It is going to take patience, but the long-term plan is solid and should work in time if they stick with it.”

The key phrase in all of that is, “. . .if they stick with it.” Will they? One has to wonder when Reds COO Phil Castellini brings visual aids to a Rosie Reds gathering to point out how the Reds have no chance to compete. And he supposedly told them the team has good prospects but probably won’t be able to keep them.

Purchase those tickets now. . .for 2028. In the meantime, “Where ya gonna go?”

—NO ANCHOVIES: I saw one of the new bases they are using in MLB games this season. They should have ‘Dominos’ printed on top of them. Or, to go local, ‘Marian’s.’ Yes, they resemble pizza boxes, large pizzas. Player will have to be careful not to step on the pepperoni.

—A TALL TALE : I watched the Western Kentucky-Louisiana Tech basketball game this week, just to see the tallest Division I player, WKU’s Jamarion Sharp.

When he is seen off the court one wonders how he walks under the basket without hitting his head on the rim. He is 7-foot-5, so he does have some clearance.

But as he grew taller and taller he began hitting his head on the ceiling lights in his Hopkinsville, Ky. home. While in high school, he was self-conscious about his height and refused to go out with his family because of the stares and silly questions.

Finally, he donned a hoodie on which was printed, “Yes, I play ball. . .I’m 7-foot-5 and the weather is good up here.”

He has outgrown that and is now an extrovert who embraces his uniqueness. He is not a scorer, only seven points a game. He averages 7.3 rebounds a game and, of course, leads the nation in blocked shots at 4.3 a game. Opponents drive to the basket with one eye on the rim and one eye on Sharp. . .or both eyes.

How about a match-up against Purdue’s 7-foot-4 Zach Edey? A mismatch. Edey averages 15.7 points game, but more significantly Edey outweighs Sharp 295-245. Sharp is eating six meals a day trying to gain weight.

—QUOTE: From poet/playwright T.S. Eliot, who wrote the play ’Murder in the Cathedral:’ “If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?” (Hey, T.S., that doesn’t rhyme, but it is poetic.)

—WHAT PRICE, WINS? — One wonders where the University of Alabama’s priorities reside. Win at all costs?

On Tuesday, Tuscaloosa police said Alabama super-freshman basketball star Brandon Miller brought a gun at the request of a former teammate that was used to murder a 23-year-old mother.

On Wednesday, Miller scored 41 points as Alabama beat South Carolina in overtime. Miller scored the basket to send the game into overtime and scored the game-winner in overtime.

Because Miller has not been charged with anything, like accessory to murder, the ‘Bama administration decied to permit him to play. After all, the Tide had its No. 2 national ranking to protect.

South Carolina students chanted all game, “Lock him up, lock him up,” and ‘He’s guilty, he’s guilty.”

On this night, he locked up the Gamecocks and probably could have scored 20 with handcuffs on.

—QUOTE: From radio/TV talk show host Boomer 
Esiason on basketball: “The bigger the balls, the better the shooter.” (I don’t think he was talking about the size of a basketball.)

—MISS, MISS, MISS: Picture this. Ohio State was down four points, 75-71, to Penn State with 15 seconds left. The Buckeyes took five shots on their last possession and clanked all five off the rim. You’d think one would fall in by accident. Any questions why OSU has lost nine straight games?

Ohio’s other star-crossed team, Wright State, lost last Sunday at Purdue-Fort Wayne on a 45-foot buzzer-beater. Then on Thursday at Oakland, the Raiders were tied, 62-62 late in the game.

Oakland’s Jalen Moore hit a three on his way to 35 points and WSU lost, 75-68. Midway through the second half the Raiders led, 54-47, then were outscored 28-14 the rest of the way. WSU had open looks and just couldn’t knock ‘em down and as coach Scott Nagy said, “The refs handed out free throws to Oakland like they were passing out candy.” Moore was 14 for 18 at the free throws line and had nine rebounds and six assists.

All season long, the opposition’s best player always seem to score big and
WSU obviously has no defensive stopper.

—OH, MR. RODGERS: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers emerged this week from four days and four night in the solitude of a dark room. He was at the Sky Cave Retreat in Oregon, presumably contemplating his navel.

He told Pat McAfee on a podcast, “I was hoping to have a better sense of where I’m at in my life.”

There are those in Green Bay who believe Rodgers was in total darkness when he was in the huddle last season. He was not in the top ten in the NFL quarterback passer ratings. His 91.1 rating was 15th, behind guys like Dak Prescott, Andy Dalton, Daniel Jones and Ryan Tannehill.

And yet talk shows are in a daily tizzy over whether he will stay in Green Bay or get traded. Maybe he’ll end up with an XFL or a USFL team.

—QUESTION/ANSWER: A so-called friend asked me, “What do you call the Cleveland Browns at the Super Bowl? Spectators.”

—SHORT STUFF: Everybody and everything seems to have a ‘Short List.’ Who is on the short list to manage the Reds or who is on the short list to win MVP?

Well, here is my ‘Short List’ and Jose Altuve and Muggsy Bogues didn’t quite make it. It is: Danny DeVito at 4-foot-11, Genghis Kahn at 5-foot-1, Prince at 5-foot-2, Paul Simon at 5-foot-3, Martin Scorsese at 5-foot-3, Ludwing Von Beethoven at 5-foot-3, Voltaire at 5-foot-3.

And coming in at 5-foot-4: Michael J. Fox, Pablo Picasso, Mahatma Gandi, Truman Capote, Kevin Hart, Harry Houdini and Mel Brooks.

Shouldn’t Martin Short be on this list? Nope. He stands 5-foot-7.

—SPECIAL MESSAGE: Every time I hear Alan Jackson sing ‘The Older I Get,’ I am certain he is aiming it at me with the lyrics:

“The older I get, the more I think. You only get a minute, better live while you’re in it, ‘cause it’s gone in a blink.

“The older I get, the fewer friends I have. But you don’t need a lot when the ones you got have got your back.

“The older I get, the longer I pray, I don’t know why, I guess that I’ve got more to say.

“And the older I get, the more thankful I feel, for the life I’ve had and all the life I’m living still.”

OBSERVATIONS: Memories From Plant City

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, appreciating the weather so much it reminds me of the good times when my dad came home from the Philippines after World War II and taught me how to catch and throw a baseball in our dirt backyard in Lakemore, Ohio.

—PLANT ONE ON: Baseball spring training is thankfully upon us and memories come flooding back. And let’s start with the days the Cincinnati Reds trained in Plant City, Fla., a place when Jeff Foxworthy says, “You might be a red neck,” he probably was referring to inhabitants of this place.

The dominant vehicle was a pick-up truck with a gun rack, always occupied. Plant City Stadium was across the street from an animal farm and if the wind blew the right way the stench was stupefying. . .almost as strong as the stink from the 1982 team that lost 101 games.

**There was a retaining pond behind the right field wall and for a while a 12-foot alligator resided in it. One day owner Marge Schott was spotting creeping up behind the gator, working on its tan on the shore. Players across the pond were chanting, “Go Marge go, go Marge go.” It wasn’t clear which Marge they were cheering for.

The alligator was ‘recycled’ shortly thereafter, but it isn’t true that Mrs. Schott showed up with a new purse and a new pair of shoes.

**In addition to the alligator, there were water mocassins in the pond. One day, relief pitcher
Randy Myers took the machete kept in his locker to ward off sports writers. He used it to slay about six mocassins. He put them on the end of a shovel and carried them into the clubhouse.

There were more screams than you’ll hear in any horror flick and some of the players fled the clubhouse as if somebody set it on fire, jumped in their luxury cars and locked the doors.

**The ever-popular pond was the scene of another event. Late in an exhibition game, relief pitcher Rob Dibble gave up a bunch of ninth-inning runs.

He stormed into the clubhouse, gathered up four folding chairs and hurled them into the pond, his best pitch of the night. A young son to Columbus Dispatch writer Bob Hunter saw it and told his dad. His dad told us and we had a helluva story.

**The players were on strike in 1995 and teams filled their spring training rosters with retired players, minor-league washouts, bus drivers, school teachers and street people.

The strike was settled just before Opening Day and the Reds Replacements were in the Riverfront Stadium clubhouse. They were all handed Glad trash bags and told, “Pack your gear, get out, don’t let the door smack your posteriors.”

Plant City. . .may it rot in peace. But send me the strawberries.

—PLAY NEAR-BALL: MLB commissioner Rob Manfraud waited until the teams opened their spring training doors to make this decision. Back by unpopular demand is the extra-inning ghost runner and it might become permanent.

And there will be bigger bases, the shot clock for pitchers and the only good thing is the banishment of the defensive shifts.

It is becoming more and more apparent that Manfraud is extracting his infernal rules out ‘The Official Softball Rulebook.’

And the robo-umpires are not far behind. They will be used in all Triple-A games this season. When it comes to MLB, I only wish Lou Piniella still managed, just to see how far he could throw a robot umpire.

—EASY LISTENING: NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) is having a big impact of college football and basketball. Players are able to receive money and expensive items from sources outside the school.

But it has had little impact on the non-revenue sports. That’s why University of Dayton baseball coach Jayson King was thrilled when a friend came through with something for all his players.

King’s friend, Kyle Graham, works for Bose in Shrewsbury, Mass., and he is giving all 40 members of the UD baseball team $300 headphones.

King hopes his players aren’t listening to John Fogarty singing, “. . .put me in coach, I can be center field.”

When the Flyers play their home games this spring on Woerner Field, they’ll be on artificial grass-like field turf. Last year, a large sinkhole appeared in left field, big enough to swallow a Dayton Freight 18-wheeler. Rather than lose outfielders, the school installed the turf.

—FIRST PREDICTION: ‘The Baseball Writers Handbook’ requires us to make predictions or we lose our Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) card,

My first bold (OK, not so bold) prediction: The Cincinnti Reds will not win the National League Central and will not finish above .500.

And, no, I was kidding. There is no ‘Baseball Writers Handbook,’ but there should be.

Speaking of the Reds (softly), loyal reader Richard Boyd of Tipp City offers this stark reminder: “How bad were the Cincinnati Reds last year? Well, they pitched a no-hitter and lost the game.” Hunter Greene needs no reminder.

While money isn’t everything, it speaks loudly in MLB. Two seasons ago the Reds payroll was $130 million. This year’s projected payroll is half that at about $65 million. . .and Joey Votto gets $25 million of it.

—TEE-ING OFF: Elrick Tont Woods, better known publicly as Tiger Woods, returns to the PGA tour this weekend for the Genesis Invitational.

Can you believe that Tiger is 47 years old?

He will be driving golf balls at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. where 23 of the 25 top-ranked players will divvy $20 million.

It is doubtful Tiger can beat Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas or Scottie Scheffler, but his value at pulling in TV viewers is immense.

I am legally blind and haven’t played golf in about 30 years, but I know I can shoot my age. . .if they stop me when I reach 82 strokes.

One of my final rounds of golf was during spring training at the Plant City Country Club with fellow scribe John Erardi of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

They started us on the 10th tee, which had a pond with about a 200-yard carry from the tee to the fairway. I drowned five golf balls and killed an alligator. So for the first hole, my scorecard had a big, fat ‘X’ on it, which is what happens when you lose count.

—PRONUNCIATION GUIDE: A lot of things drive me buggy and batty, but one is the inability of nearly ever TV person to pronounce the nickname of the NFL’s Jacksonville franchise.

Nearly all of them pronounce it Jag-wires. It is correctly pronounced Jag-wahrs.

Somebody please send them all a memo.

—SWEET MEL-O-DEE: Anybody who has ever eaten at the Mel-O-Dee restaurant in New Carlisle agrees with what I told owner Woody Childers, that he has the best broasted chicken in Ohio. His response was, “If there is any better chicken anywhere, it belongs to a rooster.”

OBSERVATIONS: Some Thoughts on Super Bowl Sunday

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from the Man Cave, sad that the NFL season is over, but love college basketball and happy to see them break out the bats, balls and glove in Arizona and Florida.

—SUPER OR STUPOR?: Some thoughts on the Super Bowl, most of which have nothing to do with a sensational game during which Kansas City outlasted Philadelphia, 38-35.

^Chris Stapleton’s National Anthem rendition was off the charts, but he strung it out and bettors who took the over (plus 110 seconds) were winners. And nobody will forget the tears of joy streaming down the cheeks of Eagles coach Nick Sirianno during the song.

^There was an over/under on the halftime show, too. If you are under 40 you probably loved Rihanna. If you are over 40, you probably hated it. Me? I gave it 10 yawns, so guess how old I am. She is pregnant and hid it with a red dress that looked as if it doubles as an awning in front of Macy’s.

^As always, Fox broadcaster Terry Bradshaw made an ass of himself on the post-game show. His introduction of portly Kansas City coach Andy Reid: “Hey, let’s get the big guy up here. C’mon, big guy, waddle on up here.” And then he dismissed him by saying, “Now go have yourself a cheeseburger.”

^The alwayd hyped-up commercials? Ten more yawns. Bring back the Budweiser Clydesdales.

^Patrick Mahomes was rightfully the MVP because his team won, but Jalen Hurts was the better quarterback. He accounted for four touchdowns — three rushing (most ever for a Super Bowl quarteback), one passing and ran a two-point conversion. He rushed for 70 yards (most for a Super Bowl quarterback) and passed for 304 yards. Mahomes was a solid 21 for 27 for 182 yards and three touchdowns. But Hurts was above and beyond.

^And there can’t be an NFL game without an officiating faux pas. With the score tied, 35-35, and 1:54 left in the game, Mahomes threw a third down incomplete pass toward Ju Ju Smith-Schuster. But out came the yellow laundry. Eagles cornerback James Bradberg was flagged for holding.

That gave the Chiefs a first down and enabled them to run down the clock so the Eagles woud have no time left after the Chiefs kicked the winning field goal.

The penalty? Bradberg appeared to have his hand on Smith-Schuster’s back but not holding, something every defensive back does on just about every play. The whistle-bloweres can’t seem to stay out of the way.

With spring training and baseball upon us, and time for me to watch the movie ‘Major League,’ somebody put together this incredible list. It is the most career home runs by the first letter of each name.

Albert Pujols, 703.
*Barry Bonds, 763.
Carlos Delgado, 473.
*David Ortiz, 541.
Ernie Banks/Eddie Mathews, 512.
Frank Robinson, 586.
Gary Sheffield, 509.
Henry Aaron, 755.
Ivan Rodriguez, 311.
Jim Thome, 612.
Ken Griffey Jr., 630.
Lou Gehrig, 493.
*Mark McGwire, 583.
Nelson Cruz, 459.
Orlando Cededa, 379.
Paul Konerko, 439.
Quilvio Veras, 32.
*Rafeal Palmeiro, 569.
*Sammy Sosa, 609.
Ted Williams, 521.
U.L. Washington, 27.
Vladimir Guerrero, 449.
Willie Mays, 660.
Xavier Bogaerts, 156.
Yogi Berra, 358.
Zack Wheat, 132.

*The astericks are for obvious reasons.

—EXCITEMENT PERSONIFIED: Two Oklahoma high school teams combined to score six points in a game last week. It was Weatherford 4, Anadarko 2.

It was a protest score. Say what? Most Oklahoma high school coaches want a shot clock implemented, but the governing body turned it down.

The two coaches decided to hold the ball for most of the game as a protest. Wonder who decided who would score four and who would score two?

There is no shot clock for Ohio high schools and it seems to work out. . .until some huge underdog team decides to hold the ball.

—WHO’S THE DRAW?: What’s the over/under on attendance at Great American Ball Park this season?

Over the last eight years, the Cincinnati Reds have lost more than a million paying customers. They drew 2.48 million in 2014 and 1.4 million last season, their lowest since 1984.

Fans are drooling over the prospect of seeing 6-foot-5 shortstop Elly De La Cruz. But GM Nick Krall said Cruz most likely will start the season at Class AAA Louisville.

Hey, they can’t start that free agent clock too soon, can they?

Well, it’s a short haul down I-71 to Louisville.

—NO DOUBTING THOMAS: From my great friend, Brad Schmaltz, who lives in that foreign country called California: “Do you know it is almost impossible to have a Hall of Fame left tackle and go 48-128 during his tenure? Only the Browns.”

That’s how good Joe Thomas was and shows that the Browns are capable of miracles.

—A BROWN OUT: Somebody tell Kelly Clarkson that only we Cleveland Browns fans can make public fun of our beloved team.

She hosted the NFL’s Honors Show and in her opening monologue she said, “It was a crazy season. Thankfully the Browns restored order to the universe by doing a bunch of dumb Browns stuff, so that happened.”

She is no Joan Rivers or Phyllis Diller or Lucille Ball, that’s for sure. She should take the advice from one of her songs: ‘Walk Away.’ Fast.

—UD DIVERSITY: When the played (and won) a game at Virginia Commonwealth, the University of Dayton started five players from five different countries.

There was Toumani Camara from Belgium, Mustapha Amzil from Finland, Kobe Elvis from Canada, DaRon Holmes II from the U.S. and Mike Sharavjamts, the first citizen of Mongolia to play Division I basketball in America.

It will be really impressive if the Flyers find a player in Transnistria (population 475,373).

—TWO MALACHIS: Unless UD’s Malachi Smith has mastered time travel and has scholarships at two schools, there is a Malachi Smith playing at Gonzaga.

Wonder if Gonzaga’s Malachi Smith can loan Dayton’s Malachi Smith his ankles on game day? The ankles on UD’s Smith are as brittle as grandma’s ceramics.

—RECEIVERS GALORE: As a former wide receiver on a flag football team in a Kettering Rec Center league for broken down athletes, I’ve always watched pass receivers closely. And here is a list of my all-time favorites:

Paul Warfield, Gary Collins, Raymond Berry, Elroy ‘Crazy Legs’ Hirsch, Lance Rentzel, Lance Alworth, Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Don Maynard, Wes Welker, Larry Fitzgerald, Drew Pearson, Cliff Branch, Andre Rison, Lynn Swann, Terrence Owens, Steve Largent, Fred Biletnikoff, Cris Carter, Hines Ward.

Sorry. . .no Chad (Ocho Cinco) Johnson and no Odell Beckham Jr.. Hey, it’s my list.

—TUG ON MY HEART: It was former Phillies/Mets closer Tug McGraw who was asked what he did with his $100,000 contract who said, “Ninety percent of my salary I spent on booze and women and the other ten percent I wasted.”

And it was Tug’s son, Tim McGraw, who sang one of my favorite songs and something I try to live by, “Always Stay Humble and Kind.”

My father was a country singer when he wasn’t toiling in Akron’s Goodrich Tire company. So country music is in my blood.

Some of my other favorites: You Were Always on My Mind by Willie Nelson, He Stop Lovin’ Her Today by George Jones, It’s Only Make Believe by Conway Twitty, I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry by Hank Williams Jr., I Will Always Love You by Dolly Parton, It Was Almost Like a Song by Ronnie Milsaps.