Observations: Buckeyes (Best in Big Ten) belong in conference title game

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, still trying to catch my breath after listening to the Cleveland Browns try to blow a 38-7 halftime lead. I say listen because the game was not on TV in Dayton for some reason. . .and I won’t accept any reason. Absurd. We were forced to watch the abject ineptitude of the Cincinnati Mike Browns — definitely the wrong Browns.

—Ohio State belongs in the Big Ten Championship Game if it beats Michigan Saturday. And the Buckeyes belong even if COVID-19 prevents the game.

It was stupid and short-sighted of the Big Ten to even inject the six-game rule under these trying and tumultuous times.

You play the schedule they hand you and you play the games you can. OSU is 5-and-0 and will be 6-and-0 after they rip the Wolveriners asunder Saturday. The are, by far, the Big Ten’s best.

What more proof is needed than Saturday’s 52-12 spanking of Sparty? OSU was down 23 players, the head coach and several assistants.

Only one offensive lineman was in his normal position. Normal guard Larry Miller played center and some of his shotgun snaps should have been stamped with, “To whom it may concern.”

Quarterback Justin Fields displayed many things. For one thing, he probably can operate with an offensive line of the Seven Dwarfs. He hit 17 of 24 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns. He rushed 13 times for 104 yards and two more touchdowns.

—Speaking of quarterbacks, how about the much-maligned Baker Mayfield? Well, how about his first half Sunday against the Tennessee Titans when the Browns led, 38-6?
At halftime they should have been playing Alan Jackson’s ‘Murder on Music Row.’ My all-time quarterback is Otto Graham (look him up, grandkids.) Until Sunday, Graham was the only Browns quarterback to throw four touchdown passes in the first half when it did it in 1951.

Mayfield did it Sunday — 20 for 25 for 290 yards and four touchdowns. Mayfield has thrown 11 touchdown passes since his last interception. The Titans ran 22 plays in the first half. The Browns had 22 first downs.

The second half? fuhgetaboutit. The Browns went ultra-conservative, the defensive backfield couldn’t prevent Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory from catching a pass. And Tennessee played like ‘Remember the Titans.’

Browns 41, Titans 35, exhale slowly.

—Major League baseball continues to talk expansion, even if it is on the back burner with the dials twisted to ‘off.’ Eventually, MLB wants 32 teams, so it can have an even 16 teams in each league.

Right now there are 15 teams in each league, which means a team from each league is always playing an interleague series.

Montreal is a given, at the top of the expansion list. Then who?

Which is the largest city in the U.S. without a major league franchise? I was shocked and stunned. It is San Antonio, Tex., which has 1.5 million folks.

And right near the top is Columbus, Oh., 900,000. Amazingly, if you put Cincinnati and Cleveland together, Columbus still has nearly 200,000 more people. And Cleveland (380,000) and Cincinnati (300,000) have MLB franchises.

How about this one? Cincinnati’s Triple-A affiliate, Louisville, has 440,000 more inhabitants than Cincinnati. It is the same with Pittsburgh (308,000), far less people than its Indianapolis Triple-A affiliate (876,000).

Some other cities larger than Cincinnati and Cleveland without MLB franchises and slim chances to get one: Austin, Tex. (964,000), Jacksonville (903,000), Charlotte (870,000), Nashville (700,000), Portland, Ore. (650,000), Albuquerque (580,000), Tucson (550,000).

Who knew?

—It is difficult to talk about pitching without talking about a G.M., and that doesn’t stand for general manager. It stands for Greg Maddux.

His eye-popping numbers are so numerous somebody should publish The Greg Maddux Encyclopedia of Excellence.

The latest head-shaker is that Maddux threw 109 complete games and 21 were under 100 pitches. While that is amazing, it is fortunate for Maddux he doesn’t pitch in the here and now.

He pitched 83 complete games in which he threw more than 100 pitches. In today’s game a manager breaks out in hives when a starting pitcher stumbles over the 100-pitch threshold. Would Maddux have had all those 83 complete games of more than 100 pitches with Tampa Bay’s Kevin Cash as his manager?

—QUOTE: From Hall of Fame player Joe Morgan when he was a TV analyst: “Greg Maddux could put a baseball through a life saver if you asked him.” (Make mine cherry.)

—During my one-year stay with the Detroit Free Press in the mid-1960s, I was assigned to cover a couple of Detroit Red Wings hockey games.

The only thing I know about hockey is that sometimes announcers say, “He put the biscuit in the basket.” I can’t even skate.

I did know, however, that Gordie Howe was a big deal, a legendary hockey player who was so tough he walked the streets of Detroit at night without a body guard. Now that’s tough.

Legend has it that a doctor applied about a dozen stitches to Howe’s face during a game. Howe told him to hurry up so he could get back on the ice.

When the doctor finished, Howe said, “You might want to wait here. The guy who did this to me is going to be right in.”

—QUOTE: From NHL legend Gordie Howe: “All hockey players are bilingual. They know English and profanity.” (And they speak it with a Canadian accent, ay.)

—Does Luka Garza even need any University of Iowa teammates on the floor? Well, maybe just a point guard to get him the ball.

True, Iowa’s first three opponents can be found residing in the sub-cellar of the Ken Pomeroy rankings, but still. . .

In two of Iowa’s first three games, the 6-foot-11 Garza outscored the entire other team in the first half.

Against Southern University, Garza outscored Southern in the first half, 36-35, and he didn’t miss a shot. Iowa won, 97-67. He played only 26 minutes and scored 41.

Against Western Illinois, Garza outscored WIU, 30-26 in the first half. He played 26 minutes and scored 35 in the 99-58 victory.

Garza has scored 20 or more points in 19 straight games. Some day he is going to match the number on his uniform. It’s 55, the highest number a college player can wear.

QUOTE: From Western Illinois coach Rob Jeter on Iowa’s Luka Garza: “You can watch film all you want on Garza. But until you get out there, you don’t know what it’s like. Right now, it’s too easy for him.”

—This one is right out of the pages of ‘Tales of the Absurd.” There is no such book, but there should be and this stupidity would be featured.

The Ohio State High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) has ruled that prep wrestling is permitted. There is a stipulation, though. Wrestlers cannot shakes hands before or after their match.

All together now. . .Are you kidding me?

—When and where will this monetary madness end? The New York Mets signed free agent outfielder George Springer to a seven-year $200 million deal.

Is that what a slash line of .265/.359/.540 with four homers and 23 RBI over 51 games gets you these days? The Mets, for sure, are banking (well, Springer is doing all the banking) on Springer approaching his 2019 numbers:.292/.393/.591 with 39 home runs and 96 RBI.

If he doesn’t match those numbers the New York media will make him wish he stayed in Houston stealing signs.

—Ever wonder about income taxes for those big contracts? Gerrit Cole signed a nine-year $324 million deal with the New York Yankees. Next season, going by tax schedules, of his $36 million salary he will pay $2.2 million in income taxes — $700,000 to New York City and $1.2 million to New York State. And that doesn’t count endorsements and personal appearances and any other outside taxable money.

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