OBSERVATIONS: Baseball at its finest right now

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATION from The Man Cave, bleary-eyed after staying up until 2 a.m. to watch the San Diego Padres send the Los Angeles Dodgers back north up Interstate-5 to put away their uniforms for the rest of the season. R.I.P. to a team that won 111 games, while the Padres won 89. And LA won 13 of 19 regular-season games against the Friars.

—FEELIN’ GROOVY: How about the three feel-good stories in the baseball playoffs — San Diego, Philadelphia and Cleveland. Well, they don’t feel so good in Los Angeles, Atlanta and New York.

But the rest of baseball’s fandom love it that the Padres took out the 111-win ultra-rich Dodgers, that the Phillies wiped out the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves and the – – – – dians, youngest team in MLB and with one of the lowest payrolls, can send the high-profile, star-studded and also ultra-rich Yankees home with a win tonight in Yankee Stadium..

The baseball has been magnificent, especially the throwback play of Cleveland with its stellar starting and relief pitching, its stellar defense and even more stellar use of singles, doubles and stolen bases.

It all has been compelling television and it continues tonight with Cleveland and the Yankees playing Game 5, a winner-take-all showdown.

—TIDE ROLLED: When Alabama lost to Tennessee, 52-49, it was the most points scored against the Tide since Sewanee scored 54 in 1907.

Who? Sewanee. No, not way down upon the Suwanee River. It is Sewanne with an ‘e,’ not an ‘u.’

At the time, Sewanee was a college football power. In 1899, the Tigers were 12-0 with 11 shutouts. They outscored their opponents, 322-10. Five wins, all shutouts, came in a six-day period when they went on a road trip to play teams that are college football powers to this day.

On the other side, Sewanee may have had the worst team in college football history. The school was a charter member of the SEC and never won a conference game in eight years. They were shut out 26 times in 37 games.

They gave it up in 1938, retreated to Division III no-scholarships football, where they remain to this day.

And that’s your history lesson for today and there will be a pop quiz.


^After SMU scored a third quarter touchdown against Navy, the Mustangs’ mascot, a miniature Shetland pony named Peruna IX, ran from end zone to end zone, as he does after every SMU score, escorted by two handlers.

Except on this journey, Peruna IX left droppings along the way. The game was delayed while the handlers used paper cups and their bare hands to remove the horse puckies. One might think it was Peruna IX’s comment on his team’s play, but SMU won, 40-34.

^South Dakota State defeated North Dakota State, 23-21. Say what? And here I thought North Dakota State never lost. I covered an NDSU game once in Fargo and the snow was so deep you could walk down the middle of the downtown main artery, North Pacific Avenue, with no fear of being hit by a car.

^Syracuse University is 6-and-0. What a stunner. From my viewpoint, the last time Syracuse had a notable football team was when Jim Brown played there in 1957. . .or was it Floyd Little in 1966? Enjoy it, ‘Cuse supporters. The Orange play another orange-clad team next Saturday. Clemson. . .at Clemson.

^Everybody thought Utah’s 43-42 win over Southern California was an upset. Maybe it was, but the Utes were favored.

After the game, USC coach Lincoln Riley said, “We can’t control the officiating.” Hey, Linc, who can?

—BROWN-OUT: There is something positive suspended Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson can do. He can turn out the lights in First Energy Field.

A team that was supposed to compete, some even mentioned Super Bowl, already looks as if it is playing in the dark.

On Sunday, they lost their third straight, but they didn’t just lose, they disintegrated into a puddle of sweat, losing to New England, 38-15.

The Patriots started their third-string quarterback, rookie Bailey Zappe out of Western Kentucky. He was making his second NFL start and looked like Bart Starr.

The Browns couldn’t stop him on third down because the defense couldn’t stop a pedestrian on a walker. The offense was putrid, too. Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett played as if he was sleep-walking. He threw two interceptions and the Browns turned it over four times.

Yes, the 2-and-4 Browns are only a game behind the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens, both 3-3, but Cleveland has lost three in a row and plays worse each week.

—RING, RING: “Hello, Tom Brady? This is your wake-up call.” Ring, Ring: “Hello, Aaron Rodgers? This is your wake-up call.”

—TIGHTEN THE BELT: Cleveland – – – – dians post-season star so far has been Oscar Gonzalez, who is, uh a tad different.

His walk-up music is the theme song to SpongeBob SquarePants. And he holds his pant up with a belt borrowed from first base coach Sandy Alomar Jr. During the wild card series against Tampa Bay, he busted his belt sliding into first base and Alomar gave him his belt.

Gonzalez then hit the game-winning home run in the 1-0 15-inning win over the Rays, had the winning hit in Game 2 of the
ALDS and the two-run walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Yankees in Game 3.

He was wearing Alomar’s belt for all three hits and said, “Something tells me Sandy will never see it again.”

—BIG WHAT?: The so-called Big 12 conference right now has eight teams. When Oklahoma and Texas leave to join the SEC, the Big 12 will have eight teams.

But Cincinnati, Central Florida, Houston and Brigham Young are joining the Big 12 and, by gosh, they actually will have 12 teams.

And the Big Ten conference? There are 14 schools in the Big Ten and when Southern California and UCLA jump in there will be 16. So shouldn’t they change the name to the Big 16 or maybe The Sweet 16?

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