By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, adding to my college basketball fix by attending the NCAA First Four at UD Arena, even though I can’t name a single starter on any of the eight teams. Fairleigh Dickinson? It has two campuses in New Jersey, one in the United Kingdom and one in Canada. I looked it up.

—MORE THIEVERY?: A recent spring training game between the Washington Nationals and New York Mets consisted of 17 runs, 33 base runners and 14 pitchers. And the game lasted 2 hours and 23 minutes. So is the pitch clock working? You betcha.

And this from Hall of Fame baseball writer Jayson Stark, one of my favorites, writing about the success of prompting stolen bases with the bigger bags and the limit on pickoff attempts.

In the first two weeks of spring training, the Cincinnati Reds were 23 for 26 in stolen bases. The Yankees were 18 for 20, the Braves were 17 for 21, the Rockies were 17 for 20 and the Royals were 17 for 18.

So it looks as if MLB teams are going to steal away this season.

—QUOTE: From former Houston catcher Alan Ashby when asked what his licence plate (SBE2) meant: “That means stolen base, error on the catcher.”

—GLOWERING GIBBY: Houston manager Dusty Baker likes to tell the story about when he was a rookie about to face St. Louis pitcher Bob Gibson for the first time. Henry Aaron pulled Baker aside and said, “Don’t dig in, he’ll knock you down. He’d knock down his grandmother if she dared to challenge him. If you happen to hit a home run, don’t run too slow, don’t run too fast. If you want to celebrate, do it in the tunnel first. And if he hits you, don’t challenge him. He’s a Golden Gloves boxer.”

Said Baker to Aaron, “Damn, what about my 17-game hitting streak?” That was the night it ended.

—COMEBACK KID: Perhaps Wright State basketball star Trey Calvin saw what happened to Tanner Holden.

Before last season, Holden transferred from WSU to Ohio State after he averaged 20.1 points a game, 7.1 rebounds and 34.4 minutes a gam for the Raiders.

At Ohio State this season all he did was wear out the seat of his pants sitting on the bench. He averaged only 13 1/2 minutes a game and 3.6 points.

Meanwhile, Calvin led the Raiders with 20.3 points, 34.4 minutes. . .and he isn’t going anywhere. He is returning to Wright State for a fifth year.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. WSU’s other transfer before last season was Grant Basile to Virginia Tech. He led the Hokies with a 16.4 average and 5.3 rebounds.

—EIGHT ISN’T ENOUGH: Every year since 2016, ESPN picks eight teams before the NCAA tournament, saying one of the eight will win it all. So far, they’ve picked a winner every year.

This year they say the winner will be one of these eight: Alabama, UConn, Houston, Kansas, Marquette, Purdue, Tennessee or UCLA.

I say they’re wrong this year. The glass slipper is about to fit a Cinderella team this year. All eight ESPN picks are highly beatable.

But don’t put the bread, milk and eggs money on Kennesaw State, Princeton, Vermont, Saint Mary’s, Boise State, UC Santa Barbara, Grand Canyon State, Montana State, Colgate or Howard. As far as Cinderella goes, those teams are the Ugly Sisters.

—(SEC) Some Exciting Contenders: The SEC is more evidence why college basketball is so fascinating. Before the semifinals of the SEC tournament, all the blue bloods were gone — Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida.

Left standing in the semifinals were two schools recently admitted to the SEC, Missouri and Texas A&M, usual also-ran Vanderbilt and football factory Alabama.

—QUOTE: From Sister Jean, the 104-year-old chaplain for Loyola of Chicag’s basketball team on whether God is a basketball fan: “He probably is. And he probably is more of the NCAA than the NBA. God always hears prayers, but maybe he thinks it’s better for us to do the L instead of the W and we have to accept that.”

—LEFT IS RIGHT: Yale is now one of my favorite teams, even though they are an NIT team. The Bulldogs put five left handers on the floor at the same time. I’m so left handed that surgeons can remove my right arm and my right leg and it won’t affect anything I do.

During the first minute of Yale’s semifinal game in the Ivy League tournament, lefty (of course) guard August Mahoney had his No. 3 jersey ripped off his back. He put on No. 5, but still ripped off threes against Cornell.

—BUCKEYE BOYS: The web-site Eleven Warriors quickly researched the 68-team NCAA tournament field and discovered there are 39 players from Ohio playing on 20 of the teams.

Wonder how many are from Indiana, California and Florida? Alaska didn’t make it. They are all out dog sledding.

—YOU’RE AS COLD AS ICE: The Harvard University women’s hockey program is in hot water (won’t that melt the ice?) for an alleged systematic hazing of players.

One of the events is called The Naked Skate. Players strip to their birthday suits and put on nothng but skates. Some were required to do Superman belly flops. Now that’s cold.

—THAT’S FISHY: Once you’ve tried the whitefish sandwich at Harrison’s restaurant in Tipp City, you’ll be hooked.

The pancakes at Mom’s Restaurant in Franklin are as big as truck tires and that’s the flat-out truth. It takes a gallon bottle of maple syrup to cover them.

The Bolognese Tony’s Style at Ray’s
Grill in Englewood is not only scrumtious, the portion is big enough to feed Mussolini’s army.

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