By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, still groaning from stuffing myself all weekend with cookies, shrimp, M&Ms (peanuts, of course), wrapped weenies, chocolate buckeyes, lasagna, whole tenderloin (no, I didn’t eat it all), twice baked potatoes, apple pie, ice cream, coffee cake. . .and it’s a good thing Nadine kept the dog food away from me.
—SCHOTT HIM DOWN: Without a doubt, the last Cincinnati Reds owner to display an affinity for winning was Marge Schott. She put her money where her mouth was and enabled her general managers to spend, when necessary.
On the other hand, she was known to squeeze a nickel until the Buffalo squealed.
In a previous Observations, I mentioned that Plant City Stadium and the complex where the Reds trained during the Schott Regime was a step below Attica Prison.
Larry Starr, one of the best athletic trainers in baseball and one of my daily tennis partners on the road, offered up what it was like for him.
“Our lovely lady owner (I refuse to say her name) cut and slashed everything I wanted in the athletic training area. She eliminated the strength training room, took away any storage, didn’t paint the walls or finished the ceiling.
“In addition, as I think you know, she did not have any hot water, except in the shower, which included the whirlpool area. So Attica was a great description.”
And it was Schott who pushed most of the team’s scouts out the back door and said, “Why do we need scouts? All they do is watch ball games.”
—QUOTE: From former Reds owner Marge Schott, showing she did know a little bit about baseball: “I don’t like the designated hitter. A guy who plays should be able to catch and hit.” (I think GM Jim Bowden fed her that line.)
—THE EAGLES SING: Have you heard the new Eagles Christmas album? And I don’t mean Don Henley’s Eagles of Hotel California and Desperado fame.
I mean the Philadelphia Eagles. For some reason, I always had a disdain for those Eagles, until this Christmas. Several members of the Eagles football team put out a Christmas album, ‘A Philly Special Christmas.’ And proceeds go to Philadelphia charities and at last count it raised $250,000.
Those Eagles still play football better than they sing, but they’ve won me over. They’ve given me a peaceful, easy feeling.
—‘SUPER BOWL,’ 1950: Speaking of the Philadelphia Eagles, they won the NFL championships in 1948 and 1949. After the 1949 season, the rival All-America Football Conference disbanded after four seasons.
The Cleveland Browns won all four AAFC titles and the NFL absorbed three AAFC teams. . .the Browns, San Francisco 49ers, the Baltimore Colts.
The NFL decided to teach the Browns a lesson and for the 1950 season opener they scheduled the Browns against the Eagles.
It could have been called the first Super Bowl. During their two championship seasons, the Eagles held their opponents to seven or fewer points in 14 of their 26 games.
A crowd of 71,237 showed up at old Philadelphia Municipal Stadium. Before that, the Eagles’ biggest crowd was 38,230 The Associated Press called the showdown, “The most talked-of game in the National Football League’s history.
Cocky Eagles coach Greasy Neale said the game was going to be high school boys against the pros.
“It was the Game of the Century,” said Eagles backup quarterback Bill Mackrides. “There was a lot of animosity. There had been a lot of talking back and forth for years. It was like the Red Sox vs. Yankees.”
Final score: Cleveland Browns 35, Philadelphia Eagles 10.
I was 10-years-old and listened to the game on Akron radio station WAKR, not realizing that I was listening to pro football history. . .I just loved Paul Brown, Otto Graham, Mac Speedie, Dante Lavelli, Marion Motley and Lou Groza.
—QUOTE: From former Cleveland Browns quarterback Otto Graham: “Do not throw in the towel. Use it for wiping the sweat off your face.” (He never threw in the towel, which is why he led the Browns to a 47-4-3 record in four All-America Conference seasons.)
—MAY(FIELD) DAY: Note to the Cleveland Browns: After you all opened your Christmas presents, did you watch the Los Angeles Rams rip apart the Denver Broncos, 51-14?
Did you notice that guy wearing No. 17 and playing quarterback for the Rams? In the first half alone he was 18 for 20 for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
His name is Baker Mayfield. You might remember him. But you have Deshaun Watson, so you don’t miss him. Do you? Just asking for a friend.
And afterwards, Denver coach Nathaniel Hackett was fired. No surprise. His team made him look like Buddy Hackett.
—QUOTE: From Los Angeles Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield, traded by the Cleveland Browns and punted to the curb by the Carolina Panthers: “Everywhere I look, someone is telling me, ‘You’re not good enough,’ or, ‘You can’t do this or that.’ You can only hear that so many times before enough is enough.”
—A UD ESCAPEE: Ever hear of Mike Dabney? He is in the Rutgers University Hall of Fame. He was on the 1976 team that made the Final Four with Indiana, Michigan and UCLA.
Like Indiana, the eventual champion, Rutgers was unbeaten entering the Final Four, but lost to Michigan. Dabney, a 6-4 guard, averaged 19 points, 4 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
Now for the rest of the story, as Dabney told it on an hour-long ESPN special on Dick Vitale.
Said Dabney, “I was all set to go to the University of Dayton. But Dick Vitale was an assistant at Rutgers and was so insistent and persistent that I went to Rutgers.”
As we all know, Vitale could sell audio to a deaf person.
UD was 14-13 that season and sure could have used Dabney.
After Rutgers, the vivacious Vitale became head coach at the University of Detroit and coach of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons before he became ESPN’s iconic college basketball analyst.
The first two times I was with Vitale I never spoke to him. I didn’t want to interrupt him. And he was worth the listen. He knows basketball like Busch knows beer.
—QUOTE: From basketball icon Dick Vitale: “Twelve for 23. . .it doesn’t take a genius to see that’s under 50 percent.” (Dickie V. knows basketball Xs and Os, so we’ll give him a pass on math.)
—FUN FACT: In fact, an amazing fact. When the Cincinnati Bengals beat the New England Patriots, 22-18, it was the first time in NFL history that a game’s score was 22-18.
When there is a score is that has never happened before It is called a scorigami. The 22-18 score was the 1,065th different score combination in NFL history,
—WHAT? NO MAIL?: Remember the slogan, “Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail shall keep the postmen from their appointed rounds.” Yeah, right. We received no mail delivery Friday or Saturday. . .and Sunday was Christmas. I am anxiously watching out the window for a Monday delivery. I’m laying odds of 4 to 1 on no delivery. Bad idea. It’s a postal holiday. No mail. . .again.