By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, wishing the University of Utah football team a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year on behalf of all Buckeye Believers.
—ONE TOUGH KID: Is there a tougher football player in America than Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams?
The University of Utah defense committed legal assault and battery on Williams Friday night. He injured his leg in the first quarter and ripped open a finger on this throwing hand.
But he kept playing, on one leg. And he spent more time on the ground than an earthworm, sack after sack after sack. . .hard, brutal sacks. And he kept getting up.
What was sad was to see coach Lincoln Riley leave him in the game with two minutes left and the Trojans down, 47-24. He took two more devastating sacks and finally limped off the field, badly battered and badly beaten.
Nevertheless, every Ohio State fan in America owes Utah a bottle of Dom Perignon, worth $250.
—DA GROANER: Major League baseball teams continue to park tractor-trailer trucks stuffed with $100 bills in front of a player’s mansion.
That latest throat-gulper is the Texas Rangers signing Jacob deGrom to a five-year $185 million deal. He will be 39 at the end of the contract.
Yes, deGrom is good. . .very good. . .when he is healthy, which is seldom. The last two years he has spent more time staring at the training room walls than at outfield walls.
The Rangers must have discovered oil in a vacant lot in Arlington, Tex. Last year they signed shortstop Corey Seager to a 10-year $325 million deal and signed infielder Marcus Semien to a seven-year $175 million contract.
So how did the Rangers do? They lost six fewer games than the Cincinnati Reds — 68-94, 38 games behind Houston and fourth place in the American League West. The team was consistent, though, 34-47 at home and 34-47 on the road.
—QUOTE: From Jacob deGrom on his movie idol good looks: “Look good, feel good, play good.” (Sounds like a Gillette razor slogan. What was it, “Look sharp, feel sharp.”)
—PAL JOEY: When Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto returns from shoulder surgery for the 2023 season, the last on his $225 million contract, he’ll be hitting against a no-shift defense. Two players must be positioned on each side of second base and all four infielders must have their spikes on the infield dirt.
Votto hit so many ground balls to a shifted infielder in short right fielder that the balls he hit wore a path in the grass.
So the no-shift rule should benefit him and his .208 batting average in 2022, right? Never let it be said that Votto gives an expected answer. He is so cautious that when his mother says she loves him, he asks for a second opinion.
“That’s not a factor,” he said recently. “I’m not thinking about that.”
So he says he doesn’t give a Bo Diddley about it, but maybe he should.
—WINKER A STINKER? — The Seattle Mariners must not have thought much about what Jesse Winker contributed or could contribute to their success.
After spending only one year with the M’s, Winker was traded this week to Milwaukee for infielder Kolten Wong. The Reds traded Winker to the Mariners before last season,
He was not very dynamic. For his 547 plates appearances, he hit .219 with 14 homers and 53 RBI. He did draw 87 walks, but struck out 103 times.
—OH, DEAR WATSON: Deshaun Watson returned to the football field after a 700-day absence and it look more like 700 years. He was a complete no-factor against the 1-10-1 Houston Texans in a 27-14 Browns win.
Watson had no hands on any of the points. The touchdowns were a 76-yard punt return by Donovan Peoples-Jones, a fumble recovery and 4-yard run with it by Denzel Ward and a 6-yard pick-six by Tony Fields.
Defrocked quarterback Jacoby Brissett would have won this game, 45-14.
No, I’m not a Watson fan and methinks Brissett deserves better.
—WRIGHT IS WRONG: What in the name of James Naismith has happened to the Wright State basketball team?
After a great showing against Davidson, a road win at Louisville and two wins in a mid-major tournament in Las Vegas, the Raiders have become defenseless stumble-bums.
They’ve lost their first two Horizon League games at home, an 80-57 shocker to mediocre Robert Morris and an 88-77 setback to Youngstown State.
The major problem appears to be defense and defensive-minded coach Scott Nagy has to be in a frenzy over his team giving up 80 and 88 points.
And remember UD guard Dwight Cohill? He transferred to Youngstown State and on Sunday scored 43 on WSU. FORTY-THRE!!! He made 16 of 19 shots, five for five from the three-point line.
—PLUGGING THE DIKE: Like the little Dutch boy who plugged a dike with his finger, Netherlands goalie Andries Noppert plugged the goal against the U.S. in the World Cup Knockout first round.
He turned away several U.S. shots on goal as the Dutch sent the U.S. home, 3-1.
The U.S. dominated the first eight minutes, kept control of the ball, but Noppert turned away two early chances and the U.S. took its ball and went home.
—WHAT COULDA BEEN: If the Purdue Boilermakers had pulled off a big upset and beat Michigan in the Big Ten championship game, they could have changed Purdue’s nickname. To what? The Purdue Spoilermakers.
Alas, it wasn’t to be. Michigan 43, Purdue 22. And Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy is other-worldly.
—OFF TO BOULDER: Neon Deion Sanders is off to Boulder, Colo., as the new coach at the University of Colorado. And he may feel like there is a boulder on his back at that dead-end job.
Colorado has had three coaches in five years. Sanders led Jackson State to a 12-0 record and the SWAC championship this year and was 27-5 in three years.
There was not much more exciting in baseball than to watch the blurry speed of Sanders running out a triple , gold necklace flashing, when he played for the Cincinnati Reds.
His problem, though, was speed is not enough in baseball. Like Billy Hamilton, he could outrun a gazelle, but couldn’t hit an elephant’s trunk often enough to use it.
“That’s super duper cool.” — LeBron James, when somebody compared him to Magic Johnson. And that comparison is bogus.
—JUST A THOUGHT: When I’m down, I say to myself, “Don’t be stressed because you are truly blessed.”