By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, back from a week at St. Simons Island and they pushed me on the plane kicking and screaming.
—DECISION NOT VOTTO-MATIC: What now, Joey Votto? What now, Cincinnati Reds? Will he go or will he stay?
Neither Votto nor the Reds have yet addressed the 40-year-old first baseman’s future. HIs 10-year $225 million contract has expired. The club holds a $20 million option for 2024. If it doesn’t pick it up, the club owes him a $7 million buyout.
With all the young talent populating the roster, including projected first baseman Christian Encarnacion-Strand, it is difficult to fathom a return by Votto.
If it were a from-the-heart decision, Votto would be back. But it is a business decision and good business says there is no room for Votto.
It isn’t Votto’s decision. It is the front office’s call, one that must come before or shortly after the World Series.
Nevertheless, here is what Votto told writers about his future during the team’s closing series in St. Louis. . .and Votto was ejected in the team’s final game for aruging balls and strikes after the first inning.
“As far as my future, my individual future, I’m still not there yet. I have been praised and given so much attention this last stretch, I’ve been conflicted in that. I’ve appreciated it and I recognize it and I’m grateful for it. But then there is the competitive side of me that’s like, ‘Just let me compete today.’ I don’t want to distract myself with anything but today’s competition ‘How can I help the team? How can I help push us forward towards a playoff berth?’
“A lot has happened at once. I recognize the support. I recognize the interest, but I just don’t have an answer yet. We’ll see.”
Yes, we shall see. And it will be a split decision. Votto has a myriad supply of supporters, but also a large block of those who believe his time has expired.
—MISSED ON MIGGY: Miguel Cabrera made his farewell tour and is on his way to Cooperstown after a Hall of Fame career with the Miami (Florida) Marlins and the Detroit Tigers.
But for $300,000, he might have played for the Cincinnati Reds. One of the rare times Trader Jac k McKeon was out of baseball, he did some bird dog scouting for his son, Kasey McKeon, who was scouting for the Reds.
Jack saw Cabrera and recommoned that Kasey sign him for the Reds. Said Kasey, “Dad, I know all about Cabrera. We had him in our Dominican academy with the Reds. We could have signed him for $800,000. They only gave me $500,000 to offer him and that was it.”
—MORE ON McCORMICK: After my vignette in a previous UO on Asheville’s McCormick Field, I was informed of some other trivia about the legendary field.
Author Thomas Wolfe, who wrote ‘You Can’t Go Home Again’ and ‘Look Homeward, Angel,’ was an Asheville native and served as a batboy for the Asheville Tourists.
And writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of ‘The Great Gatsby.’ spent considerable time in Asheville getting tossed out of every place he stayed due to his drunken stupors. He attended Tourists games in McCormick Field. Ane he might, just might. have been sober.
—QUOTE: From writer F. Scott Fitzgerald: “All good writing is like swimming under water and holding your breath.” (I’ve never tried that. Maybe I should.)
—DOWN AND OUT: What a shame for Ohioans. Its two NFL franchises are in deep dung, probably out of the playoff picture and the season is only four weeks old. They didn’t even have time to pose for any pictures.
With his ankle problems, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is a faint shadow of himself. And the Cleveland Browns are already a ship wreck with injuries to their best players.
How many days until spring training?
—A PRIVATE SHOWING: The Tampa Bay Rays are getting a new stadium? Why? They used to draw more people to the Tampa Fronton for jai-alai than they draw to Tropicana Field.
For Game 1 of this year’s playoff game, the Rays drew 19,704. That’s the fewest fans to see an MLB post-season game since 1919.
And the Rays were uninspired by all the empty blue seats. They scored one run in two losses to the Texas Rangers and played defense as if they were wearing galoshes over their spikes. So it was two-and-out for them.
On October 7, 1919, the Cincinnati Reds drew 13,921 in Redsland Field for a game against the Chicago Black Sox.
Perhaps the fans sniffed out the fact that Chicago was losing the World Series on purpose to accept money from gamblers. “Say it ain’t so, Joe.”
—SOME LONG DRAUGHTS: As noted before the playoffs began by former Los Angeles Times columnist and good friend Mike Downey:
***Milwaukee, Texas and Tampa Bay have never won a World Series. And Tampa Bay is already gone.
***Baltimore hasn’t won a World Seires in 40 years, Minnesota hasn’t won in 32 years and Toronto hasn’t won in 30 years.
***The Philadelphia Phillies, born in 1883, have won only two World Series.
He also noted that big-time spenders like the New York Mets, New York Yankees, San Diego Padres,Seattle Mariners, St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Angels are absent.
He didn’t mention the Cincinnati Reds because they aren’t in the playoffs and aren’t loaded with cash, but they haven’t won a World Series in 33 years and haven’t won a playoff game since 2014.
—PHIL HIM UP: Just finished reading a fascinating book called ‘The Gambler,’ by Billy Walters, who claims to have wagered more than a billion dollars on sports. Not a million, a billion.
Walters was friends with pro golfer Phil Mickelson and played golf with him often. One day, as reported by Walters, Mickelson asked him to make a bet.
He wanted Walters to bet $400,000 for him that the U.S. would win the 2012 Ryder Cup. And Mickelson was on the U.S. team.
Said Walters, “Are you out of your effing mind? Don’t you remember what happened to Pete Rose for betting on his own team?”
Walters said he didn’t place the bet and doesn’t know if Mickelson convinced somebody else to do it. If he did, he lost $400,000 and he was a factor. Europe beat the U.S., 14 1/2-13 1/2. Mickelson lost his final day match to Justin Rose, 1-uo, If Mickelson wins his match, the U.S. wins.
Mickelson became a pariah when he hooked up with Saudi Arabia to form the LIV golf tour, accepting $200 million to do so. In an interview, Mickelson said,
“We know they killed Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once in a lifetime chance to reshape how the PGA tour operates.”
And $200 million.