OBSERVATIONS: D.J. was fiercest competitor

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, alternating between the air conditioner and the heater, wishing Mother Nature would make up her mind. . .and if that’s sexist, sue me.

—SPLITTING WOOD: Danny Jackson turned 61 this week and I wonder if he still has a scowl that would peel paint off the Golden Gate Bridge.

The man hated to lose and is probably the fiercest pitching competitor I ever encountered with the Cincinnati Reds.

There was a game in 1988 when a misplay in the outfield cost him a game. When we arrived at his dressing cubicle after the game, the wooden frame was in splinters after Jackson assaulted it with a Louisville Slugger.

A brave or not-so-wise writer asked, “Do you think that misplay cost you the game?” Jackson glared at the writer like a wolf stalking a chicken and said, “What I’d like to do right now is unscrew your head and crap down your neck.”

Oh-Kay. How’s that for ferocity?

Jackson did not lose often in 1988. He was 23-8, a season for the ages, and appeared on his way to a Cy Young award, which would have been a first for the Reds. And it still would be a first.

Then Orel Hershiser happened. From mid-August to the end of the season, the Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander out of Bowling Green State University, made nine starts, pitched eight complete games, went 7-and-1 and set a still-standing record with 59 straight scoreless innings.

He and Jackson both were 23-8, each with 15 complete games, but Hershiser’s Herculean finish earned him the unanimous Cy Young vote. Jackson finished second.

Jackson came to the Reds in a trade that brought owner Marge Schott to tears after she agreed to it. Schott loved infielder Kurt Stillwell and pitcher Ted Power, especially Stillwell.

It was before the 1988 season and Schott told writers, “They traded my cute little Kurt Stillwell. This Jackson character better be good.”

Then he went out and won 23 games. He won an NLCS playoff game in 1990 against Pittsburgh. He started a World Series game against Oakland and lasted only 2 2/3 innings while giving up four runs and six hits. But The Nasty Boys shut it down from there and the Reds won.

He was granted free agency after the 1990 season and signed with the Chicago Cubs.

—QUOTE: From former Dodgers pitcher Orel Hershiser: “I’m proof that great things can happen to ordinary people if they work hard and never give up.”

So true. He was academically ineligible his sophomore year at Bowling Green, so he quit school and hitchhiked home to New Jersey. His parents talked him into returning, so he enrolled in summer school, lifted his grades . .and the rest is Orel history.

—SLIP ‘EM A SLIDER: There is no doubt it is fun for fans to see 101 and 102 on the screen when Cincinnati Reds pitcher Hunter Greene turns loose his fastball.

Unfortunately for Greene and the Reds, it seems opposing batters are happy to see it, too. Greene’s fastball last season averaged 99 miles an hour, tops for all pitchers with 100 or more innings. And hitters put together a .512 slugging percentage against Greene’s fastball.

It was manager Lou Brown in the movie ‘Major League,’ who told pitcher Ricky ‘Wild Thing’ Vaughn (Charlie Sheen), “Give him the heater, Ricky.” For Greene, it would be, “Give him the slider, Hunter.”

—DOLLARS FOR DEVERS: The money-slinging by MLB teams never ceases. To keep Rafael Devers, the Boston Red Sox filled his four-car garage with $100 bills.

They are giving him $311 million over the next 11 years, highest contract ever by the Bosox and the sixth highest payout bv a major league team.

As Neil Diamond would sing it, “Sweet Caroline.”

When Christopher ‘Mad Dog’ Russo talked about it on MLB-TV, he said, “The Red Sox had to do it, had to keep him. They are the Boston Red Sox, not the Cincinnati Reds.” Ouch.

—POINTS GALORE: Defense continues to be a wild rumor in the NBA. Players scoring 40, 50 and 60 points a game are a quarter a dozen (inflation has raised the term dime a dozen to quarter a dozen).

Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell scored 71 this week against Chicago. Seventy-one or more has been done eight times, five by Wilt Chamberlain.

The list: 100-Wilt, 81-Kobe Bryant, 78-Wilt, 73-David Thompson, 73-Wilt, 73-Wilt, 72-Wilt, 71-Mitchell.

Chamberlain’s 100 was scored in a game played in Hershey, Pa. There were no TV cameras and there is no video at all. Some conspiracy theorists say it didn’t happen, that the NBA made it up for publicity.

Really? Ask 89-year-old Dayton native Jumpin’ Johnny Green. He played that night for the opposing New York Knicks and witnessed all 100 points.

And minutes after that was typed, Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a career-best 55, which is about how many letters are in his name.

—SHOWS NO MERCY: Speaking of high-volume scorers, there will be a shooter in the house at the Nutter Center tonight and he won’t be carrying a pistol.

His name is Antoine Davis, a 6-foot-1 guard for Detroit Mercy who piles up points like Aaron Judge piles up dollar bills.

He has 3,103 career points, seventh all-time in Division I basketball, a 24.6 career average. In 126 games, he has never scored below double digits. As a freshman, he scored 48 against Wright State.

Just wondering and pondering. Wonder how he would do against the University of Dayton with defensive demons R.J. Blakney and Toumani Camara dancing with him skin-to-skin.

—A PENALTY KICK: Where will this stuff end? Danielle Reyna, mother of Gio Reyna, reported to U.S. Soccer that USA Men’s World Cup coach Gregg Berhalter kicked his wife. And he admits it. Reprehensible? Absolutely.

But. . .the incident happened 31 years ago when Berhalter was a soccer star at North Carolina. During an argument outside a bar, Berhalter kicked a woman. Who? His soon-to-be wife, Rosalind. And they’ve been married 25 years.

Danielle Reyna was extracting a full body of flesh because of her perceived notion that Gio was mistreated as a member of the U.S. team.

Nevertheless, U.S. Soccer hired an investigative firm and the probe is ongoing while Berhalter has been suspended, even though Berhalter and his wife issued a joint statement outlining the entire long forgotten kick.

It seems U.S. Soccer wants to make that a penalty kick.

—L, L and L: I stay away from political commentary, but this one is too good to pass up from my great friend, Brad Schmaltz, in California.

Kevin McCarthy accomplished something not even the Cincinnati Reds ever did. . .three losses in one day.

—WHAT’S THAT?: Some things my grandkids have no idea what they are:

A telephone booth, a dial telephone, a typewriter, a telegram, Etch A Sketch, roller skate keys, juke box, lawn jarts, hand mower, blackboard, Plymouth (or Pontiac, Saturn, DeSoto, Mercury), Clark bars, Tinker Toys, Erector Set, Foto-Electric football, Lincoln Logs, Royal Crown Cola, candy cigarettes, bubblegum cigars.

One thought on “OBSERVATIONS: D.J. was fiercest competitor”

  1. Asa Reds fan since 1972, I was shown this article showing MLB exceeded 10.8 Billion in Revenue.. Thats 360million per team.. Explain to me the lie about small market when EVERY team gets the same amount of Revenue??? Thats before selling one Ticket to a game!.. No wonder Bob doesnt complain his team is sucking because he is pocketing alot of that revenue. Remember how he said “we are not going to loose anymore”. That was about Not losing money. Not about any wins on the field!!!

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