OBSERVATIONS: Some thoughts about a ‘real’ baseball man

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave and I never thought I’d ever say this, but. . .”With the state baseball is in, I wouldn’t care if they canceled the entire MLB season. I can get my fix with the Dayton Dragons, Wright State baseball, UD baseball and my grandson’s and great grandson’s sandlot games. Play ball, kids.

—Jim Riggleman, a baseball lifer, is one of my all-time favorite baseball people, a guy who was an interim manager of the Cincinnati Reds in 2018 after the team fired Bryan Price.

Riggleman did an admirable job with limited resources and I thought he deserved the job as the team’s manager for 2019. Instead they hired David Bell.

Riggleman, 70, displayed his love for the game recently when he took the job as manager of the independent Billings Mustangs in the Pioneer League. As the movie said, “Just for the love of the game.”

Ironically, Billings was the long-time rookie league affiliate of the Reds until the beautiful and wonderful city was axed as one of the casualties of MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s elimination of so many great minor-league franchises.

Kevin Kernan of the web-site, BallNine, has a fantastic profile of Riggleman. . .a must-read for real baseball fans. One of the things Riggleman told Kernan:

“I love to have coffee in the morning with my coaches to talk baseball or have a beer with them after the game, get to the ballpark at a reasonable hour and debate what we should do with the lineup. That’s part of the allure of it.”

Then came this hard truth, something every true baseball man I have talked to over the last two years has told me. “People who are with these clubs now, they don’t really want to hear what I have to say.’’

And what Riggleman has to say is not only worth listening to, it is worth recording and preserving for posterity, because true baseball men like Riggleman are going the way of the brontosaurus.

—The less said these days about the baseball negotiators, the better. Obviously, talk is not cheap for those guys. It is expensive, in more way than one.

What I make of all this jibber-jabber is that smoldering in the underbelly is the owners’ desire to destroy the players’ union.

All I need to know about commissioner Rob Manfred were the words he once uttered: “The World Series trophy is nothing but a piece of metal.” I’ve tuned him out ever since and his apology was as hollow as a dead tree.

—Read into this what you see and think, but to me it is mind-bogging. But I don’t know what it proves, if anything.

The nine-man 2021 All-MLB team contains only two players who played in any post-season games last season. And one played in only one post-season game.

Atlanta third baseman Austin Riley played in 16 post-season games. New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge played in one.

The rest of the all-MLB team played in none: Catcher Salvatore Perez, first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr, second baseman Marcus Semien, shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., outfielder Mike Trout, outfielder Bryce Harper, designated hitter Shohei Ohtani.

If anything, it might show that baseball, indeed, is a team game and that one or two superstars aren’t enough to get a team to the Promised Land.

—As baseball’s negotiations slog along like spilled molasses on a frozen puddle, some of the players are making light of it.

Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper photoshopped himself in a Yomiuri Giants Japanese uniform and posted on Instagram: “Aye, Yomiuri Giants, you up? Got some time to kill. I know you got (agent) Scott Boras’s number. Let’s talk.”

Most likely, the Giants don’t have a yen for Harper. . .at least not enough yen.

—Remember comedian Red Buttons (ask your grandfather) singing, ‘Strange Things Are Happening?” It certainly applies to the Horizon League basketball tournament.

First of all, IUPUI (ooh-ee,poo-ee), ranks 358th out of 358 Division I basketball schools, played Oakland in the first round with five players, due to injuries and transfers. The toothless Jaguars entered the game 1-25, 1-12 in the Horizon.

Who’d they beat? Didn’t look it up but it may have been the Happy Mornings Nursery School Toddlers. Amazingly, they were 23-point underdogs to Oakland and only lost by 12.

And somebody wagered $5,000 at the Caesar’s sports book that Wright State will win the Horizon League tournament. If the Raiders win it, the bettor collects $25,000 without even passing Go.

I have of faith in coach Scott Nagy and players like Tanner Holden and Grant Basile, but I wouldn’t bet $5,000 on the sun rising in the east. Who knows what global warming might do?

—R.J. Blakney’s game-winning dunk with one second left that lifted Dayton past Richmond Tuesday night, 55-53, was ESPN’s No. 1 play on the SportsCenter Top Ten Wednesday.

And the dunk came after UD coach Anthony Grant proved he is no autocrat. He was convinced by his coaching staff on what out-of-bounds play to run. . .Malachi Smith’s lob pass to Blakney, who jammed it home with one hand.

“We ran the same play earlier and we thought the back screen was open,” said Grant. “Right before we put them back on the floor, the coaching staff said, ‘Run the same play we ran before because it was open.’ To their credit, they were right. Heck of a pass, heck of a finish.”

Obi Toppin couldn’t have done it better than the way Blakney emphatically put an exclamation point at the end of this game,

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY. . .from Aaron Rodgers, Phil Mickelson and LeBron James: “Do unto others before they do unto you.”

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