OBSERVATIONS: ‘Turkey Day’ at the old Akron Rubber Bowl

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIOS from The Man Cave on this Thanksgiving morning, awaiting the arrival of family for our prime rib dinner. Turkey? Nah, Nadine says I’m a big enough turkey.

—A PERSONAL SUPER BOWL: Not only is Thanksgiving for, well, giving thanks, it is for football, isn’t it?

Even back in high school at dear ol’ Akron East, it was for football. Every Thanksgiving morning, the Akron Public Schools football championship was decided with a game in the old Akron Rubber Bowl. — Turkey Day for the City Series championship, a tradition for 50 years. “All the way to Turkey Day”was our slogan during the season.

The Rubber Bowl, jammed against a hill next to Derby Downs and above the Akron Municipal Airport, was our Super Bowl before there even was a Super Bowl.

There was nothing better that morning than to watch my East Orientals (Yes, that was our nickname, now it’s Dragons), beat the bejabbers out of our big rival, the Garfield Presidents (Now the Rams).

The Rubber Bowl is gone, both original school nicknames are gone and the Turkey Day game is gone. Time marches on and sometimes that march is sad.

—PAYING FOR NOTHING: This is bizarre and has to be a unique situation for any MLB team.

What two players are the Cincinnati Reds paying the most money? Well, it is two guys who aren’t even on the roster.

It is Joey Votto, whom the Reds are paying a $7 million buyout and Ken Griffey Jr., whom the Reds will pay $3.7 million this year, the last payment on his deferred contract.

The highest paid player on the roster right now is pitcher Hunter Greene at $3.3 million.

And speaking of pitching, FanGraphs rates the Reds starting staff, as currently assembled, as the 10th best in MLB. Atlanta is first, Philadelphia second and Tampa Bay third.

—FRANK-LY SPEAKING: A little known factoid appeared on Facebook this week, a factoid that I never heard before.

In 1987, Cincinnati Reds manager Pete Rose sent relief pitcher Frank Williams to the mound 85 times. He was 4-0 with a 2.30 earned run average.

It was the most games in MLB history that a pitcher appeared in without losing a game.

Williams had an identical twin brother who often showed up in the clubhouse and some of us susspected he pitched half of those games to keep his brother’s arm from falling off.

Williams appeared in 60 games the next year with a 2.59 ERA and a 3-2 record. After that season, the Reds released him and he signed with the Detroit Tigers.

—GENO MOVING AGAIN: Eugenio Suarez just can’t keep a job. The former Cincinnati Reds third baseman was traded this week by the Seattle Mariners to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

It is strange that he keeps changing uniforms. He has hit 21 or more home runs in seven straight full seasons (He hit 15 in the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season).

He hit 49 homers for the 2019 Reds, then was part of a trade to Seattle with Jesse Winker that brought the Reds Jake Fraley, Brandon Williamson and Connor Phillips.

—TV TEDDY SPEAKS: Legendary college basketball official TV Teddy Valentine, a resident of Charleston, S.C., officiated three games at the Charleston Classic, but none of Dayton’s three games.

During the St. John’s-Utah game he stopped in front of my press row seat and said, “Y’know, the year the Flyers had Obi Toppin they would have made the Final Four. In fact, they probably would have won it if Covid hadn’t stopped the season.”

Toppin, by the way, scored 21 points this week as the Indiana Pacers beat the Atlanta Hawks, 157-152.

Valentine is 65 and is amazingly phyically fit. And he also brought forth the name of former UD coach Don Donoher and said, “Anybody who can’t get along with Donoher, well, something must be wrong with them.”

As any basketball fan knows, when it comes to delivering foul calls, Valentine delivers them quicker than Amazon.

—TURN THE PAGES: Never have I seen an author work so hard on a book as Dayton Daily News sports writer David Jablonski.

And I don’t mean just writing ‘The Epicenter of College Basketball, A History of UD Arena,’ which I know is a chore from personal experience.

But there he was at the Charleston Classic, stack of books under his arm as he trudged up the TD Arena steps, selling his creation personally. And I know how tough that is, too.

The book is more than worth the $20, even if you aren’t a Flyer Faithful inhabitant of UD Arena. It is stuffed with UD basketball history.

If you see Jablonski, flag him down. Or you can snag one at the UD Arena shop, the UD book store on campus, The Flyer Spirt Shop on Brown Street or at UDarenabook.com. Put it on your Christmas wish list or gift list.

— DEFENSIVELY SPEAKING: There are a couple of amazing statistics involving the Cleveland Browns and it goes without saying, but I’ll say it, they involve the defense.

On 52.7% of an opponent’s possessions, the Browns force a three-and-out, the best NFL percentage of this century. It is led, of course, by Myle Garrett, the impressario of sacks.

And in five of the last six games, a Browns game has been decided on the last two snaps of a game.

—HE’S A PEACH-EATER: If you believe Fox Sports football analyst Joel Klatt (and I don’t believe him), there is no reason to play the College Football Playoffs. He says Georgia is a lock.

He did inject one caveat by writing, “If Ohio State quarteback Kyle McCord plays well, this is one of the best teams in the country (One of the best???). This is a team that could even challenge Georgia.”

This guy obviously has eaten too many peaches.
—QUICK TRIVIA: There are 16 teams in MLB, the NFL, the NBA and the NHL that have one thing is common. Can you guess?

Here is a clue: The Twins, Timberwolves and Wild. And the answer is, all three play in Minneapolis but they go by their state names. . .Minnesota.

The others: MLB: Texas Rangers, Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Tennesse Titans.

NBA: Utah Jazz, Indiana Pacers.

NHL: Florida Panthers, New Jersey Devils, Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche.

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