By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave with some words to live by in 2024 from my great friend in Sarasota, Tom Melzoni: “This is not the year to get everything you want. This is the year to appreciate everything you have.” Amen. . .and a happy, healthy and prosperous new year to you all.
—WHAT’S NEXT, REDS?: Are the Cincinnati Reds finished spending money? Is the checkbook overdrawn? Are they ready to pack the equipment and ship it to Goodyear.
By signing free agents Jeimer Candelario, Nick Martinez, Emilio Pagan and Frankie Montas, the Reds have added $53 million to their 2024 payroll. That thrusts them past $100 million.
Do they go higher? Doubtful. Most likely their bargain basement free agent shopping is over. If they do more, it probably will be through a trade or two.
And what is Jonathan India still doing on the roster? Yes, he is the team’s People’s Choice, but he is an extra trinket that the club doesn’t need.
There are several teams out there that want India and he could bring the team a handsome return, even though GM Nick Krall says teams are trying to commit larceny in what they’ll give the Reds forfhim.
—QUOTE: From Steve Lyons after playing five years for the Chicago White Sox and being traded to the Boston Red Sox: “I have found that every five years a man has to change his Sox.”
—SHOELESS AND BLAMELESS: Before Ted Williams died in 2002 and his family had his body frozen and stored in a vault in Scottsdale, AZ., he was a vociferous proponent for the reinstatement of Shoeless Joe Jackson and for him to be put in the baseball Hall of Fame.
Williams talked to players who played against Jackson — Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Walter Johnson — and they all said Jackson was the greatest hitter they ever saw. Ruth said he tried to copy Jackson’s hitting approach Cobb said Jackson was the greatest natural hitter he ever saw.
Jackson was one of the Eight Men Out, one of eight Chicago White Sox players banned for life by commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis for throwing the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds.
Jackson accepted $5,000 from White Sox first baseman Chick Gandil, the facilitaor of the fix, but when he found out what it was for he tried to give it back and threatened to expose the plan. Gandil allegedly threatened Jackson with bodily harm.
Jackson did go to manager Kid Gleason, who knew the fix was in, and told him he didn’t want to play in the World Series, Gleason forced him to play.
So Jackson played and was the best player in the Series. He hit .356, hit the only home run in the Series and made several outstanding defensive plays without making an error.
But because he took the money,, Landis barred him for life. Williams said Jackson deserved reinstatement and pointed out that former New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was suspended for life twice and reinstated both times.
“The more I talk about it, the more mad I get at the game I love so much,” Willliams told writer Peter Golenbock. “What happened to Joe Jackson wasn’t fair. To my mind, he has served his sentence. It’s time he be reinstated and given his rightful place in the Hall of Fame.”
I’m with you on this one, Teddy Ballgame.
—QUOTE: From Pete Rose after I once wrote that he would run over his grandmother to score a run: “You’re right, Hal, and I would run over my great grandmother, too.”
—SOMEBODY CALL: For Joey Votto, it’s like the Vince Joy song, ‘Call Me If You Need Me.” Votto, a free agent, is feeling lonely by his non-ringing phone, awaiting somebody to call and offer him a contract.
Votto posted this on social media: “Being a free agent is like that scene from ‘Gravity’ where Sandra Bulllock detaches from the Explorer. You’re all alone, no one is answering your calls, and you don’t know if you’lll get back to base. Your only hope is George Clooney saving you. Save me, George.”
Sorry, Joey. At last check, Clooney was directing a movie, ‘The Boys in the Boat, and he is not a baseball general manager.
—CLOSE, BUT OUT: When Jack McKeon managed the Triple-A Denver team, his club made the playoffs against a speedy Portland team. He wanted to slow them down, so he asked the groundskeeper to do something for him.
The groundskeeper did it and, sure enough, it slowed down the Portland team in close plays at first bsse and Denver won the playoffs.
What did the groundskeeper do for you, Jack? Why was Portland always out on close plays at first base?
“I had him move first base back to 91 feet,” said McKeon with an impish grin.
—QUOTE: From Jack McKeon when asked before a game by a neophyte reporter what his strategy would be: “I don’t know. It’s not like football. I can’t draw up plays.”
—SIMPLY THE BEST: Who is the best college basketball player on the court right now? Easy. It’s Caitlin Clark, the University of Iowa guard. What she can’t do on wooden floors has yet to be invented and she just might invent it.
She is the only college player, man or woman, with more than 3,000 career points, 900 career assists and 800 career rebounds.
In her most recent game, she scored 34 points and passed out 10 assists in a 94-71 romp over once-beaten Minnesota. She made 8 of 16 three-pointers. They need a four-point line for her because some of her threes are five to ten feet beyond the arc. Her range seems to be anywhere inside the arena.
—QUOTE: Writer Rick Reilly on Caitlin Clark: “The most thrilling player (in basketball) weighs less than the equipment guy, She swishes bombs from the logo, Caitlin Clark of Iowa is the best thing you’ll see on TV, including Ted Lasso. She is Steph Curry in a pony-tail.”
—WESTWARD BOUND: This one was pointed out by legendary sports columnist Mike Downey.
The Texas Rangers won the 2023 World Series, the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl in 2023, the Denver Nuggets won the 2023 NBA playoffs and the Las Vegas Golden Knights won the 2023 NHL Stanley Cup.
Now. . .what do those four teams have in common? A clue: As Horace Greeley once said, “Go West, young man.”
All four teams are located west of the Mississippi River. Amazing, In my youth, back in the days of covered wagons, there was not a single pro franchise west of the Mighty Mississippi.
—ANOTHER NEW LEAGUE: Any idea sport and league these teams represent? Birmingham Stallions, Houston Roughnecks, Memphis Showboats, Michigan Panthers, Arlington Renegades, D.C. Defenders, San Antonio Brahmas, St. Louis Battlehawks.
They all are members of the new spring United Football League. The XFL and USFL have merged and those are the UFL. Let’s hope they don’t become UFOs,
The XFL lost $60 million last year in its inaugural season. Maybe Shohei Ohtani can help ‘em out.
—CHANGE THE TITLE: Football fans in Alabama have requested the singing group Alabama to change the title of their hit song, ‘Feels So Right,’ to ‘Feels So Wrong.’
—PLAYLIST NO. 5 (Dedicated to my beautiful wife Nadine, whom I think about when I hear these tunes:
I Will Always Love You (Whitney Houston), Pretty Woman (Roy Orbison), First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (Roberta Flack), You’re Beautiful (James Blunt), You Are So Beautiful (Joe Cocker), Lady in Red (Chris DeBurgh), When You Are In Love With A Beautiful Woman (Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show), You Look Wonderful Tonight (Eric Clapton),.
Just The Way You Are (Bruno Mars), Three Times A Lady (The Commodores), Can’t Live Without You (Harry Nilsson), Hello (Lionel Ritchie), You Decorated My Life (Kenny Rogers), Can’t Help Falling In Love With You (Elvis Presley), My Love (Paul McCartney).