OBSERVATIONS: It All Began For Me 74 Years Ago (I Was 8)

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave before a big weekend — University of Dayton basketball, Cleveland Browns football and Ryan Roth, the magnificent Elvis Presley tribute singer at the Milton Club.

—A BIG BROWN-OUT: It was 1948 and I was 8-years-old when I became a Cleveland Browns fan, much to my dismay for the next 74 years.

It has been like David vs. Goliath, except thls time Goliath grabbed David’s sling-shot and broke it in half.

I was in bed with the whooping cough when I turned on our little cream-colored Philco radio and twisted the dial to Akron radio station WAKR.

It was a Sunday afternoon and I stumbled upon a broadcast of a Browns-Los Angeles Dons game. The Browns were in something called the All-America Football Conference, a rival to the NFL from 1946 to 1949.

The Browns, named after their founder and coach, Paul Brown, hardly ever lost and won all four championships during the league’s four-year existence.

They went 14-0 in 1948 and on the day I heard them they kicked the Dons right into Lake Erie, 45-7.

Yep, I had the whooping cough that day and the Browns have pretty much made me sick ever since. . .with a few bright spots — very few.

One of them was when the AAFC folded and the Browns were absorbed into the NFL. The NFL thought it would teach the Browns a lesson. They scheduled Cleveland’s first game in 1950 against the defending NFL champion Philadelphia Eagles.

Final score: Cleveland 35, Philadelphia 10. Some guy named Otto Graham threw for 343 yards and three touchdowns.

Philadelphia coach Greasy Neale, his mouth stuffed with sour grapes, said, “Paul Brown would make a better basketball coach because all he does is put the ball in the air.”

So how did it work out for you, Greasy?

Not much positive has happened after that in old Cleveland Municipal Stadium, the world’s largest refrigerator, the Mistake on the Lake.

So the Browns finally made the playoffs this year and open their search for Super Bowl Superiority Saturday in Houston.

I don’t have whooping cough, but I do have a sore throat and a radio, so maybe, just maybe, history can repeat itself. . .only 74 years apart.
—THE THRILL OF. . .NEVER MIND: It was a weary early week for ranked college basketball teams. First there was Terrible Tuesdsy when No. 1 Purdue and No. 2 Houston both lost.

Then came Wacky Wednesday when five ranked teams were force fed the foul taste of defeat: Kansas (3), Tennesse (5), Oklahome (9), Marquette (11) and Clemson (21).

And on Thursday, Gonzaga (23) took a hit, the Zags fourth loss.

If Dayton’s Flyers win at Duquesne tonight and go 13-2, there is no plausible reason why they shouldn’t move into AP’s Top 25.

—QUOTE: From former President Richard M. Nixon: “You must never be satisified with losing. You must get angry, terribly angry about losing. But the mark of the good loser is that he takes his anger out on himself and not on his teammates.” (Now there is a fellow who knows all about anger and losing.)

—EIGHT MEN OUT: Speaking about losing, eight NFL head coaches have lost their jobs in the last two weeks. That’s one-fourth of the colony. (Nadine is a retired math teacher).

Most noteworthy are Bill Belichick after 24 years with the New England Patriots and Pete Carroll of the Seatle Seahawks. Belichick just couldn’t cut it without quarterback Tom Brady.

Media folks in New England probably threw a massive shin-dig to celebrate Belichick’s departure because of his glib and three-word mumbled replies to reporters’ questions.

And how about Nick Saban’s shocking and unexpected retiremen as Alabama head coach forever and ever?

It is the thinking here that NIL and the transfer portal disgusted Saban and it was a case of no mas after 17 years and seven national championships, one at LSU and six at Bama.

—THE WRIGHT WAY: Wright State’s offensive three-ring circus was on guady display Wednesday night at Rober Morris. Robert showed up, but Morris didn’t as the Raiders gave the basketball net burns in a 101-76 victory.

WSU led 31-9 just eight minutes into the game and 58-37 at the half after it shot 72%, 8 of 10 from three.

So they elephant-walked the second half to a 101-76 victory, shototing 71% for the game. That meant the Raiders solidified their hold as the best shooting team in all of Division I at 54.1%.

And despite an 0-and-2 start, WSU is only a half-game out of first place in the tightly-bunched Horizon League. Every team has at least two defeats. The Raiders are one of four teams at 4-2 whille Green Bay and Oakland top the league at 5-2.

Prediction: The high-powered, high-octain Raiders will win the league championship. After a visit to Youngstown State Friday, WSU plays six of his next nine league games in the friendly quarters of the Nutter Center.

—QUOTE: From former Duke coach Mike Krzyewski: “A basketball team is like the five fingers on your hand. If you can get them all together, you have a fist.” (Wright State certainly plays offense like a clenched fist and repeatedly punches opponents in the solar plexus.)

—YER OUT-TA LINE: From Pam Postema’s book, ‘You’ve Got To Have B*lls To Make It In This League,’ after she became the first female umpire to make it to Triple-A, something she heard from a dugout whille working a Pacific Coast League game:

“What do you call a female umpire? A call girl.”

And when another player called her a whore, a teammate said, “No, she isn’t a whore. She can’t work the corners.”

And that’s some of the more polite things that assaulted her ears from chauvanist pigs.

Postema, though. got even with players and managers in the book, including former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Rob Dibble, about when both were in Triple-A.

She wrote: “Rob Dibble is one of the biggest jerks in the game. He argued, almost begged, for strikes, which wouldn’t be so bad if he threw one once in a while. He was wiild and dangerous, too.

“Dibble would throwe at his own mother for a dime,” she added. “He thinks he is some sort of tough guy when he throws a 99 miles an hour fastball at some batter’s earlobe.”
—QUOTE: From former major league umpire Ron Luciano, whom Postema despises: “Umpire’s heaven is a place where he works third base every game. Home is where the heartache is.”

—CONFIDENTALLY SPEAKING: Author Al Lautenslager has a new book out entitled, ‘Baseball Confidential,’ an inside peek at stuff fans are not privy to.

It is stuffed with stories, including one about Casey Stengel and Tug McGraw I hadn’t heard and I thought I’d heard ‘em all about Ol’ Casey.

This Classic Casey tale occurred when he managed the expansion Miserable Mets and trudged to the mound to remove McGraw, a relief pitcher.

“But I’m not tired,” said McGraw.

“I’m tired of you,” said Casey.

“I got this guy coming up out the last time he came to bat,” protested McGraw.

“Yes, but it was in this same inning,” said Stengel, removing the ball from the Tugger’s hand.

Mound visits are a recurring theme in this light, easy-to-read tome, a collection of stories about managers communicating with pitchers on the mound and the way baseball people communicate with each other during games.

—PLAYLIST NO. 8: Now that I’ve continued to post these lists, I keep finding more tapes I listened to when driving to and from Cincinnati Reds games (when I could drive):

Fire And Rain (James Taylor), All Night Long (Lionel Ritchie), Unchained Melody (Righteous Brothers), Born To Run (Bruce Springsteen), If You Leave Me Now (Chicago), My Best Friend’s Girl (The Cars), In The Ghetto (Elvis Presley), It’s Over (Roy Orbison), Sweet Caroline (Neil Diamond), It’s A Heartache (Bonnie Tyler) Make My Dreams (Hall & Oates).

What A Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong), You Can’t Always Get What You Want (Rollling Stones), I Fall To Pieces (Patsy Cline), Bridge Overr Troubled Water (Simon & Garfunkel), Gloria (Laura Branigan), Take My Breath Away (Berlin), Big Girls Don’t Cry (Four Seasons), Hard To Say I’m Sorry (Chicago).

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