OBSERVATIONS: Poll says baseball is slip-sliding away

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave on a bitterly cold day from a bitterly upset baseball writer. About the CFB titlte game: Can Alabama and Georgia both lose? Please?

—Baseball’s owners and the players union continue to sit on their pompous posteriors, apparently unwilling to recognize or admit that they are sinking the ship.

The worst thing that can happen to a game already iclose to a deep six-ing itslef is irrelevance and apathy.

A survey conducted recently by Seton Hall University and reported by The Sporting News should have commissioner Rob Manfred and union boss Tony Clark rushing to a mahagony negotiating table.

The survey of 1,570 people identified as avid sports fans revealed that 44 percent will be less interested in big league baseball if/when the 2022 season commences. And 54 percent of the respondents said they didn’t have any interest in basebsll before the lockout.

In addition, the longer the lockout persists, the higher those numbers will climb.

Even before the lockout, last season’s attendance was at a 37-year low. And before baseball can reach for the pandemic excuse, when TV ratings should have risen, viewership was down 12 percent.

Nevertheless, both sides continue to bury their heads somewhere, perhap under first base at Yankee Stadium.

—QUOTE: From a picket sign from a by-gone strike: “We’ll hold this line until Hell freezes over and then we’ll hold it on ice skates.” (And baseball is skating on cracking ice.)

—No jokes about hair curlers and makeup kits in clubhouses, but women are taking their places in a once all-male domain.

Last Friday, a teen-aged lefthander named Genevieve Beacom became the first person of her gender to appear in a professional baseball game. She pitched a scoreless inninng for the Melbourne Aces in the Austrailian Baseball League.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., the New York Yankees confirmed that Rachel Balkovec will manage the low-Class A Tampa Tarepons and become the first female to manage a professional baseball team.

She has worked professionally in baseball for 10 years and previously was the first female to be named a hitting coach, serving in that capacity for Tampa the last two seasons.

“My first reaction was to make sure that this is something that I have earned and that I’m getting it for the right reasons and not just because of my gender,” she said.

—It was former Alabama coach Bear Bryant who said, “A tie is like kissing your sister.” And that’s even if your sister is Beyonce. For the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens, a tie Sunday would have been the Kiss of Death for both franchises — double elimination. . .both teams out of the playoffs.

They went to overtime and a tie seemed inevitable.
But Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Not-so-Gentle Ben Roethlisberger completed a fourth-and-8 pass with 2:06 left and Chris Boswell kicked a 36-yard game-ending field goal just 1:56 away from a tie. The 16-13 win sent the Steelers staggering into the playoffs.

—Heard an amazing and astounding thing last week. Detroit Mercy guard Antoine Davis hit 103 three-point shots in a row, no misses, during a practice session. And his coach/father, Mike Davis, has the video to authenticate it.

In a game last week, Davis scored 23 points in the first 11 minutes against Milwaukee in a Horizon League game. He made his first six shots, five from three-point range.

He finished wity 39 points. As the coach’s son, he has the green light to fire at will and does so, some from the banks of the Detroit River. And when Milwaukee double-teamed him, he passe. He had six assists, two with behind-the-back passes.

It comes as no surprise to Wright State. In 2019, as a freshman, Davis hit 10 three-pointers against the Raiders and scored 48 points.

—The only thing that showed Sunday in the meaningless Browns-Bengals exhibition game was that the Browns have a better back-up quarterback.

With both starting quarterbacks sitting this one out, Cleveland’s Case Keenum was 17 for 24 for 176 yards and two touchdowns. Cincinnati’s Brandon Allen was 15 for 29 for 136 yards and one touchdown.

The Browns won, 21-16, their fourth straight win in The Battle of Ohio. The teams dislike each other on a high level and it showed. There was enough hard-hitting to put dents in the fenders of a Bulldog Mack truck.

—QUOTE: From a Browns fan: “The Bengals have more ankle bracelets than Super Bowl rings.”

—QUOTE: From a Bengals fan: “I left three tickets to a Browns game on my windshield and when I came back there were nine tickets.”

—With Alabama seeking its seventh national collegiate football title Monday night, I rean across this gem about recruiting from former Crimson Tide coach Bear Bryant.

“If you got some boys who are good students and have some ability, you send themn to Cal or Stanford. But if you have some whiskey-drinking, women-chasing, pool-playing studs who are ath-a-letes, why you just send them down to ol’ Bear to win a championship with,” he reportedly said once in the wee hours of a bourbon-laced media meeting,

—Former Miami Herald sports columnist Edwin Pope once penned this about a Miamu University football team that spent more time on a police blotter than sitting at a classroom desk: “What is the first thing a Miami football player hears when he gets into a three-piece suit? Will the defendant please rise.”

Of the same Miami football era, my friend Rick Reilly wrote in Sports Illustrated: “Miamiu may be the only squad ih America that has its team picture taken from the front and the side.”

—Quick questio, most certainly asked by Kansas coach Bill Self: “How can a college basketball team that beat Kansas, Miami and Virginia Tech, lose to UMass Lowell, Lipscomb and Sutin Peay.”

That’s a question like which came first, the chicken or the egg? There is not answer. Kansas is 12-2 and ranked ninth, Miami is 13-3 and 5-0 in the rugged ACC after knocking off Duke, and Virginia Tech is 8-6.

We’re talking here, of course, about the up-down-all around University of Dayton. The Flyers host a tough Saint Louis University team in UD Arena Tuesday night. It is always a mystery. . .who is going to show up in Dayton uniforms, The Hulk or Casper Milquetoast?

And what in the hell is a Billiken?