By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, wondering why anybody would spend a winter in Buffalo, where the sun only shines on July 26 and you have to make reservations to see it.
—I WALK THE LINE: When Joe Nuxhall was 15, he traded his paper route for a major league baseball contract with the Cincinnati Reds. After facing junior high school hitters, a few months later he was standing on an MLB mound, facing major league hitters, including Hall of Famer Stan Musial.
He entered his first game in June of 1944 in the ninth inning with the Reds trailing the St. Louis Cardinals, 13-0. Among other negative things, Nuxhall walked five batters. Understandable.
But it wasn’t the worst debut for a Reds Hall of Fame pitcher. His name was Bob Ewing. And this was related to me by my great friend, Brad Schmaltz. His wife, Penny, was a great niece to Ewing.
Turns out that Ewing walked 11 batters in his debut, two shy of the Reds’ all-time record for walks in a game. And he beat Nuxhall’s one-inning nightmare by walking seven in one inning, a National League record for walk in one inning. He lost the game, 9-5.
—QUOTE: From noted Poet Robert Frost, who was known to throw a few curveballs: “Poets are like baseball pitchers. Both have their moments. The intervals are the tough things.” (Especially after you walk five or walk seven in one inning.)
—NOTHING EXTRA HERE: They call it the ‘yips,’ when a golfer can’t make a two-foot putt, when a second baseman can’t throw accurately to first base. . .and apparently when a kicker can’t put one between the uprights. (I had an entire career of putting yips.)
The kicking yips hit Dallas placekicker Brett Maher when he missed four straight extra point kicks against Tampa Bay, a dubious and embarrassing NFL record.
His first two misses were so wide they missed the protective netting behind the goal posts and landed in the stands. The Cowboys only had three kicking balls and were down to one. Fortunately, if that can be said about missed extra points, his next two misses landed in the netting, preserving the ball.
He only missed three all season, but one was his last kick in the previous game. . .so he missed five in a row. Former NFL kicker Morten Andersen tweeted during the game, “Are the Cowboys hiring?” His last kick came in 2007.
Maybe extra points are suddenly too close. Maher was 29 of 32 this season on field goals, 9-ofj-11 from 50 yards or more.
Special teams coach John Fassel called it, “A bad day at the office.” Like most kickers, Maher has had ‘offices’ all over North America. In addition to two stops in Dallas, he kicked for the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Washsington, Houston and Arizona. And he also had stops in the Canadian Football League with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Ottawa Roughriders and Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
His business card says, “Have foot, will travel.”
—QUOTE: From former placekicker Garo Yepremian, after kicking a field goal in the first football game he ever saw, ran off the field and excitedly told his teammates, “I keeck a touchdown.” (So why did they only put three points on the scoreboard, Garo?)
—AARON ON AARON: Should Mr. Rodgers leave his neighborhood? Some say that 39-year-old Aaron Rodgers should take off his Green Bay Packers helmet and put on a fishing or hunting cap. Rodgers believes otherwise.
Talking on the Pat McAfee podcast, Rodgers said, “Do I still think I can play? Of course. Of course. Can I play at a high level? Yeah. The highest. I think I can win MVP again in the right situation. Right situation, is that Green Bay or is that somewhere else? I’m not sure, but I don’t think you should shut down any opportunity.”
Now there is a man with the ultimate confidence in himself and, hey, if Tom Brady can still do it (somewhat) at 45, why not Rodgers at 39?
In fact, playing into a fourth decade is not that unusual for NFL quarterbacks. How about a Top Ten with their age when they played their last game in parentheses:
Y.A. Tittle (48), George Blanda (48), Tom Brady (45), Steve DeBerg (44), Vinny Testaverde (44), Warren Moon (43), Doug Flutie (43), Earl Morrall (42), Drew Brees (42), Brett Favre (41).
Bonus points if you know what the Y.A. stood for in Tittle’s name. . .and for the unknowing, Tittle was a legendary QB for the New York Giants in the 1950s and 60s. Answer: Yelberton Abraham, and no wonder he went by Y.A.
THE GREATEST: This week would have been Muhammad Ali’s 81st birthday, if he were still punching. I had the privilege of riding around the streets of Detroit with him in the 1960s.
There was a group of kids on a street corner and Ali jumped from the car and approached them.
“Who are you?” asked a girl of about 12.
“I am the greatest,” said Ali.
“No, you are not,” said the girl. “God is the greatest.”
“But I have a better left hook,” said Ali, quicker than one of his counter punches.
—SO FAR AWAY: When 6-foot-5, 265-pound defensive end Sam Hubbard was trucking 98 yards with the football he stole from Baltimore, he was clocked at 17 miles an hour. That’s four miles an hour short of getting a ticket in a school zone.
Nevertheless, it looked as if Hubbard nearly tripped over the 20-yard-line and by the 10-yard-line he was staggering like a guy in the desert looking for an oasis.
As broadcaster Chris Collinsworth said about the run made on Sunday night, “He’ll catch his breath on Tuesday.”
Somebody on the sidelines said that as Hubbard ran by he was singing Carole King’s, ‘So Far Away.’
—WINK, WINK: There is a Dayton connection with the New York Giants. Don ‘Wink’ Martindale, a Dayton native, is the team’s defensive co-ordinator. Martindale was an all-state tackle at Trotwood-Madison.
Why Wink? Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s there was a game-show host named Wink Martindale on the TV show Tic-Tac-Dough. And it won’t be long before Dayton’s Wink Martindale will be in the dough as a head coach.
—THE NAME GAME: When this college basketball player is asked for an autograph, “And please sign your full name,” he probably begs off for fear of writer’s cramp.
His name is Enkhiln-od Michael Sharavjamts. The Mongrolian-born freshman plays basketball at the University of Dayton and goes by Mike.
—MORE FUN WITH NAMES: Some of my favorite non-baseball sports names:
^Sonny Sixkiller (Former University of Washington quarterback who wore, yep, number six.)
^Picabo Street (Olympic gold medalist in alpine skiing who had to be a winner because she was born Triumph, Idaho. Her dad is Stubby Street. . .no comment.)
^Tommy Gunn (No doubt he was a rapid-fire shooter on the basketball floor for Middle Tennessee State.)
^Ben Gay (An NFL player who always rubbed it in.)
^Fair Hooker (Was a Cleveland Browns wide receiver who always did his best work standing on a corner.)
^World B. Free (An NBA star who thought he was free to shoot every time he smelled the ball.)
^Andy Friese (The only anit-freeze ever in a NASCAR stock car.)
^Napoleon Outlaw (Did the NCAA penalize Michigan State for recruiting an outlaw, especially one named after Napoleon Bonaparte, who couldn’t beat Waterloo?)
^God Shammgod (Said this Providence basketball player, “Aren’t two Gods better than one?”)
^Creedance Clearwater Cuoto (This soccer player should have changed his last name to Revival and, like Fair Hooker, does his best work ‘Down on the Corner..’)