By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave wondering how in the name of Amos Alonzo Stagg that Las Vegas can make the Cleveland Browns 2 1/2-point favorites over Baltimore Saturday, but hoping it comes true so Cleveland can help the Cincinnati Bengals. They certainly helped them last week.
—NEAR CAREER-ENDER: The scariest day of my Journalism career occurred before my career even began and nearly ended it before it started.
In 1961, Kent State basketball coach Bob Doll was 2-19. And in 1962 he was on his way to a 3-18 season.
I was sports editor of The Daily Kent Stater and wrote a column called ‘Sideline Sidelights.’ Late in that 1962 season I wrote a column saying Doll should be fired.
The paper’s editor, Tom Suchan, presented a coffee cup to writers who penned something good. I had never won when he presented one to me after that column and he said, “You finally wrote something that actually said something.”
Faint praise, huh? But I was so proud. I hadn’t even had time to fill it with coffee when I was summoned to school president George A. Bowman’s office.
In those days, there was no freedom of the press for college newspapers. So I knew this couldn’t be good.
I walked cautiously into his massive office and he looked up from behind reading glasses dangling on the tip of his nose. He was seated behind a behemoth mahogany desk in a plush maroon leather swivel chair.
He didn’t invite me to sit, made me stand as I nervously shifted feet. And then he said, “My young man. I decide who gets fired on this campus, not you. You will print a retraction or you will find your education elsewhere. Dismissed.”
What I should have said was, “I’m entitled to my opinion and if you throw me out of school you can expect a law suit.”
What I said was, “Yes, sir. Right away.”
And I wrote it the next day and said something like, “In the matter of Bob Doll’s coaching position, never mind.”
I was able to finish my Kent State education, but I never did sip coffee from that cup. And Doll was fired a couple of years later with a career 33-77 record.
—CASH FLOW: Pennies from heaven? No, not where MLB is concerned. It is millions from heaven. Where is all this cash coming from? Did the San Francisco Giants discover more gold at Sutter’s Mill?
The Giants tossed $350 million at the feet of shortstop Carlos Correa. But here’s the kicker. It is for 13 years, concluding when Correa is 41.
The most Joe DiMaggio made in one year was $100,000. He probably made more money as Mr. Coffee. . .and he had Marilyn Monroe and that had to be worth at least a million.
So far this off-season, MLB teams have committed more than $2 billion to free agents. The New York Mets lead the way with $461.7 million for six free agents, five pitchers.
Philadelphia has spent $387 million for three free agents and San Diego’s contribution is $352 million to three free agents.
And there is more to come.
—Sell, Sell Sell: There was a large billboard on I75 near Evendale that appeared just before last season began, a $4,000 endeavor bought by some fans and it read in hashtag style, “#SellTheTeamBob.”
There are no For Sale signs near second base in Great American Ball Park, but highly respected sports journalist Ken Rosenthal believes there should be.
Writing this week in The Athletic, Rosenthal said the Reds, Pirates and A’s need new ownership with some cash and some vision.
The Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Angels are listed in the classifieds and Rosenthal wrote, “With any luck, the Nationals and Angels, both currently for sale, will be bought by like-minded individuals or groups (Mets, Phillies and Padres ownerships), and the turnover will continue with the Reds, A’s and Pirates, to name three clubs that need a change.”
What Bob Castellini has done for fans recently is swing a potent ax to cut payroll in one year from $140 million to $73 million. Paul Bunyan couldn’t have done it better.
—EX-REDS REPORT: Former Reds relief pitcher Michael Lorenzen, a free agent after spending a season as a starter for the Los Angeles Angels, signed a one-year $8.5 million deal to join the Detroit Tigers rotation.
Reports indicate that Johnny Cueto is ready to sign a one-year deal to join the Toronto Blue Jays’ rotation.
Wade Miley, a pitcher the Reds let go on waivers to the Chicago Cubs, is an unsigned free agent.
Remember when he pitched a no-hitter for the Reds? The game’s start was delayed an hour-and-a-half by rain.
When it began, catcher Tucker Barnhart forgot the scouting card he always carried in his back pocket. He left it in his locker and never retrieved it. He winged it.
Outfielder Tyler Naquin admitted after the game that he played the wrong side of the outfield defensive card the entire game.
Well, so much for scouting reports.
—GWYNN AND BEAR IT: During his career, Tony Gwynn had 45 four-hit games. And only 34 times did he strike out more than once in a game.
Five-hit games? Gwynn had five, second most ever. The most? Peter Edward Rose doubled that with 10 five-hit games.
QUOTE: From Pete Rose, The Hit King: “If I had two hits, I wanted three. If I had three hits, I wanted four.” (And on 10 occasions he wanted five.)
—TECHNICALLY SPEAKING: Between eight technical fouls and a fan ejection, they even played a little basketball in Milwaukee this week.
The technicals were whistled on the Bucks and Golden State Warriors. The topper, though, was that Golden State’s Draymond Green had a fan removed, “Because the fan said some things that threatened my life.”
While a fan threatening a player’s life is unacceptable and reprehensible, maybe Green needs some ear plugs in his rabbit ears. Engaging verbally with fans is not new for him.
Just a few days before the Milwaukee incident, Green got into a verbal altercation with a fan in Dallas that resulted in a $25,000 fine for Green. The Mavericks fan later matched the fine with donations to charities.
Speaking of technical fouls and Dallas, on the same night as the Bucks-Warriors fiasco, Dallas star Luka Doncic was called for a technical. No surprise. He is Mr. Technical — 54 of ‘em in the last three seasons.
But this one? He was slapped for a ’T’ for yelling. . .not at an official or a fan, but at his own teammates, Dwight Powell, after a defensive breakdown.
He must have used a lot of naughty words.
—LOU’S A LULU: From Alan Saliwanchik, one of my best Ask Hal contributors: “Former coach Lou Holtz spoke at the Schuster Center and said, ‘My first year at South Carolina we went 0-and-11 and were not as good as our record indicated.’”
My favorite Holtz-isms are words to live by: “When all is said and done, more is said than done. You’ll never get ahead of anyone as long as you try to get even with them.”
—WHELING AND DEALING: Former Los Angeles Dodgers general manager and Jamestown, Ohio native Fred Claire relayed what former Dodgers pitcher Carl Erskine said.
Claire called this week on Erskine’s 96th birthday and Erskine said, “Betty (his wife) and I used to have matching sweaters. Now we have matching wheel chairs.”
—TIME CAPSULE: From my great Sarasota friend Tom Melzoni: “The problem with being punctual is no one is there to appreciate it.” (For some folks, time is not of the essence.)