By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, counting the days. . .not until Christmas, until spring training and Opening Day.
—THE SHAME GAME: Dusty Baker said one of the major reasons he stepped away from the Houston managerial job, hanging up his toothpicks, was the constant criticism aimed at him on social media and from the Houston media.
Maybe he should have done what Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney did on his radio show. A caller asked, “Why should they pay you $11.5 million a year for a 4-4 record?”
Swinney eviscerated the guy with a pointed five-minute rant and concluded with, “I’m not gonna sit here and let you say that. I don’t care how much money I make. You’re not gonna talk to me like I’m 12-years old.”
That, of course, isn’t in Baker’s DNA. He treats everybody with dignity and respect, even umpires.
When he managed the Cincinnati Reds, he and I were in his office when he pulled out a cardboard box full of letters and said, “Just pull one out and read it. . .any one.”
I did. And it was shameful. It was an unsigned letter full of disgusting racial epithets. I pulled out another. Same thing.
Unfortunately, Baker read them all, just as he read the stuff on social media. He would have been better off to burn that box of garbage and to stay off social media.
But there wasn’t much he could do about criticism in the print media, something he didn’t have to concern himself with in Cincinnati.
—HERE’S WHAT’S COMING: With all the chatter about sign-stealing these days, here is Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux’s take on the subject:
“No need to steal the sign. I’ll tell you what I throw. It’s an 89 miles per hour sinker and you won’t even swing at it.”
But it will be a strike. . .and that’s not boastful talk. With Maddux it is reality.
—STROUD ON A CLOUD: When the Cleveland Browns-Arizona Cardinals game concluded Sunday, CBS switched to Houston-Tampa Bay and I witnessed footballl magic.
Former Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield took Tampa Bay the length of the field, scrambling for a first down on fourth-and-six, completing a third-and-23 pass for 21 yards and completing a 15-yard touchdown pass.
That gave the Buccaneers a 37-33 lead with only 46 seconds left. Game over? Not with former Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud operating for the Texans.
Stroud took Houston 75 yards in 40 seconds, completing a touchdown pass with six seconds left for a 39-37 win. Stroud threw five touchdown passes and threw for 455 yards, an all-time NFL record for a rookie quarterback.
Can he come back to Ohio State to face Michigan?
—ANOTHER SACK ATTACK: The worst pro sports contract ever given out: $235 million by the Browns to Deshaun Watson (just my not-so-humble opion and he might prove me wrong down the road).
True, he was on the field for Sunday’s 27-0 win over the Cardinals, but his play was incidental. His grade was ‘O’ for ordinary.
Almost every Cleveland victory this season can be laid at the fast feet and strong arms of the defense, never so evident as Sunday.
The injury-ravaged Cardinals started rookie quarterback Clayton Tune, his first NFL start. The Browns sacked him seven times and he’ll probably be dreaming of orange helmets in his sleep, if he can sleep.
Arizona’s offense totaled 59 yards, its fewest since 1955, two cities ago. They were the Chicago Cardinals until 1960 when they moved to St. Louis, then moved to Arizona in 1988.
Next stop Honolulu?
—OH-FOR-26: As we head into the college basketball season, one of the questions is, “How many Big Ten team will be awarded an NCAA tournament bid?”
Why do we ask? Because over the past three seasons the Big Ten has received 26 bids. Guess how many of those 26 teams made the Final Four?
If you said zero, you just hit a three-pointer at the buzzer.
—SOCCER IT TO ‘EM: Anyone familiar with laces on a football know of the prowess of the Cincinnati Moeller High Schoo football teams, dating way back to the days of Gerry Fasut when the Crusaders lost about as often as John Wooden’s UCLA basketball teams.
Well, the Men of Moeller are at it again. . .only this ball has no laces. It is a soccer ball.
And this one is incredible. The Moeller soccer team is not only 23-and-0, it has given up exactly one goal in those 23 matches and it was scored way back in early August.
So who scored that goal? Pele? Maradona? Ronaldo? Beckham? Messi?
—THE WRIGHT WAY: Wright State’s basketball team opens its season Friday at Colorado State, a game WSU coach Scott Nagy says, “May be the toughest game we have all year.”
Colorado State’s starting lineup is four graduate students and a senior. And their top player off the bench is a graduate student.
Wright State’s reputation is growing, making it difficult for the Raiders to fill their non-conference schedule, especially after they’ve beaten Georgia Tech, North Carolina State and Louisville on the road in recent games.
“When you pay a team $90,000 to come to your place and they beat you, that’s how you get fired,” said Nagy. In addition to Colorado State, the Raiders also have road visits to Indiana and Davidson.
WSU athletic director Bob Grant said there is one Mid-American Conference team that refuses to play the Raiders. When asked why, they told Grant, “Because you have better players than we do.”
—A DOUBLE EAGLEX: They say the most difficult thing in golf is to score a hole-in-one — except for me, it was finding my ball in the woods.
Loyal reader Dave Gasper, an avid golfer, always bemoans the fact he never had a hole-in-one. But he recently performed something much rarer and more difficult — a double eagle.
He did it on the par-five 16th at Dayton’s Walnut Grove with a driver and a 200-yard five-iron. Ker-plunk. A deuce.
Yeah, but he still doesn’t have an ace.
Former Dayton channel 2 news anchor Mark Allan recalls what former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden did on the Erskine Golf Club in South Bend, IN.
“He had a double eagle and a hole-in-one on the same round,” said Allan, who played the course often. “But he shot a 76.”
In golf, a 76 is called a trombone. . .at least where I come from.