By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave after going to bed with the Los Angeles Chargers leading the Jacksonville Jaguars, 27-0. Done deal, right? I spit out my Dunkin’ Donuts coffee Sunday morning when ESPN told me, “Jacksonville 31, Chargers 30.”
As former Dayton Gems hockey public address announcer Billy Hilbert used to scream into his mic late in a game, “Never leave a hockey game.”
—ROBOTIC INVASION: The Cockeyed Commish is on the prowl again. Several reports indicate that all 30 Class AAA baseball teams will use the robot umpire system to call balls and strikes this season.
It, of course, is experimental, an experiment that will find its way into a major league park near you in the not-too-distant future.
The Automated Balls and Strikes (ABS) system will be used, but in two different ways. Half the games will be played with a system of an eletronic strike zone. And half will use with a system similar to what is used in professional tennis.
Umpire Angel Hernandez should be ecstatic because when it reacheds the majors he can say, “Hey, you can’t blame me. It was Roger the Robot.”
Next? Robot pitchers so that all that will be needed is WD-40 and no Tommy John surgeries. . .and the elimination of stupendous salaries. After that will be robotic batters.
Pretty soon, though, MLB will have to put robots in the stands as fans because it keeps pushing real fans to the NFL and NBA.
—SHORTEN UP: It looks as if austerity has hit the annual Reds Caravan, too. . .or is it also in a rebuild mode.
The Reds have abandoned Athens, Florence, Ky., Muncie and Indianpolis. As one fan put it, “Other than Batesville, the Reds have abaonded Indiana, probably because the Chicago Cubs have taken over Indiana.”
Speaking of the Reds, they signed free agent pitcher Luke Weaver to a one-year $2 million deal, another stop-gap fill-in.
In seven years with St. Louis, Arizona and Kansas City, he is 24-36 with a 4.79 earned run average. He split last season with Arizona and Kansas City and was a combined 1-1 with a 6.56 ERA over 15 starts and 11 relief appearances.
Can you say scraping the bottom of the barrel?
The team did find $3.1 million in some musty corner to sign an international free agent catcher out of Venezuela, 17-year-old Alfredo Duno. He is listed as No. 4 on the Top 50 International prospects list.
The scouting report: “Duno has a chance to have at least three above-average tools that include fielding, arm and power . He runs well for a catcher and already shows elite bat speed.”
In addition to Duno, the Reds came to agreement with three other Venezuelans, six Dominicans, two Colombians and one Haitian.
—MLB’S RICHES: Why do baseball owners show little concern for declining attendance? Because ticket sales don’t amount to much in the revenue department.
Baseball commissioner Rob Manfraud disclosed at the BBWAA (baseball writers) meeting during last season’s All-Star break that MLB’s gross revenue was a record $11 billion.
That, of course, is before expenses. As far as revenue for all teams, including the Cincinnati Reds, 48% of local revenues are subject to revenue sharing and are distributed equally among all 30 teams. Each team receives 3.3% of the total sum generated. In 2018, each team received $118 million from this pot.
Teams also receive a share of national revenues, which were estimated to be $91 million per team, also in 2018. So, the Reds, like every team, received $209 million in 2018.
And you can wager your sweet bippy that five years later that revenue stream is much higher.
—SMALL GATHERING: The announced gathering — it can’t be called a crowd — for the Miami-Buffalo basketball game was 981. It was played in the dark dungeon called Millett Hall, where fugitives can hide for months and not be found.
Millett Hall seats 9,200 and most of those dust-covered seats have never been used for a basketball game. There are nearly 17,000 students at Miami, so what gives?
Traveling to Oxford from Dayton or Cincinnati is like riding a Conestoga wagon on the Oregon Trail and in the winter it can be like going through Donner Pass. But 981? Why bother?
One has to feel the frustration of first-year coach Travis Steele and feel sorry for the players who perform in front of 8,500 empty seats. Steele did say, “In three years, nobody is going to want to play us.”
We will get back with you on that one, Travis.
—THEY GET PAID?: Some not so bold predictions I heard with one ear by a couple of talking heads on FS1 one morning while I was listening to my Rice Krispies talk to me with the other ear:
“The only way Seattle beats the 49ers is if a tsunami hits San Francisco,” said one. He was right on.
And a different one said, “The Cincinnati Bengals won’t lose to Baltimore unless they all fall into a vat of bad chili and drown.” This one nearly required a coroner to check the Gold Star kitchen.
—THE Ol’ LAMPLIGHTER: Was watching an NHL game when a goaltender was replaced in mid-game because the red light behind him was blinking like a flashing light at a four-way stop.
Reminded me of a quote from former Montreal goalie Jacques Plante, who said, “Goal-tending is a normal job? Sure. How would you like it in your job if every time you made a small mistake, a red light went on over your desk and 15,000 people stood up and yelled at you?”
OK, some other funny sports quotes:
^Muhammad Ali, before he fought George Foreman: “I watched Foreman shadow boxing and the shadow won.”
^Boxer Rocky Graziano: “I quit school in the sixth grade because of pneumonia. Not because I had it, but because I couldn’t spell it.”
^Spider Lockhart on tackling Cleveland Browns legend Jim Brown: “The only way to stop Jim Brown was to give him a movie contract.”
—NAME GAME: Some baseball names that always make me smile:
^Coco Crisp: I prefer Rice Krispies.
^Milton Bradley: He had to be a gamer.
^Boots Day: Shouldn’t he wear baseball spikes?
^Rabbit Maranville: Always safe by a hare.
^Blue Moon Odom: He won once in a blue moon.
^Mark Lemongello: I never liked any Jello.
^Razor Shines: Always a close shave at second.
^Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish: Just call him Cal.
^Urban Shocker: Only won games in big cities.
^Oil Can Boyd: Did he put petroleum on the ball?
^Wonderful Terrific Monds: Never lived up to his name.
^Shooty Babbitt: He had one quick shot with the A’s.
^Chief Bender: Yes, his best pitch was a curveball.
^Pickles Dilhoeffer: Did his best work in rundowns.
^Peter LaCock, Dick Pole: No comment, no comment.