OBSERVATIONS: Why I ‘despise’ Dusty Rhodes

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave after destroying an entire bag of peanut butter pretzels courtside while watching UD’s Flyers get back on track with a big win over George Washington. George showed up, but Washington didn’t.

—TOUGH PUNISHMENT: It was 1954 and my father drove home a new robin’s-egg blue Oldsmobile Rocket 88. I was 14 and sneaked it out of the garage one day and tore up the left rear fender when I hit a cement wall that lined our driveway.

My punishment? I couldn’t listen to the 1954 World Series. That was harsh. So harsh. My team, the Cleveland Indians, were in it. They won 111 games to win the Americamn League pennant and I was certain they’d take care of the New York Giants in the World Series, and Willie Mays be damned.

As it turned out, I was happy I didn’t to listen as the Giants won four straight. And it wasn’t Willie Mays that disgusted me, despite his incredible back-to-the-infield over the shoulder catch of the 450-foot drive hit by Vic Wertz.

No, it was Dusty Rhodes, that damn Dusty Rhodes. He couldn’t even plau defense. He was a pinch-hitter because his manager, Leo Durocher, called him, “The worst defensive player ever to play in a major leaguer game.”

Rhodes hit a pinch-hit home run off Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Lemon to win the first game, a 255-foot blooper over the 254-foot right field wall in the Polo Grounds. As a 12-year-old Little Leaguer I once hit one farther than that. Once.

Rhodes ended up hitting another bloop home run and for the Series he was 4 for 6 and drove in seven guns.

Ah, but sweet revenge, sort of. When the Giants played their last game in the Polo Grounds in 1957 before moving to San Francisco, guess who made the final out in Polo Grounds history?

Yes, Dusty Rhodes on a meek ground ball. So why couldn’t he do that in the ’54 World Series?

—SPIT AND SHINE: It won’t be found in any record book, unless there is one called ‘Spittle Sprays,’ but Ted Williams holds the record for highest and longest spit launch on a baseball field.

Williams was a veteran of two wars, a great charity benefactor that mostly was done anonymously and the greatest hitter of his time and maybe all-time.

He also earned the title, ‘The Great Expectorator.’ He always was at odds with Fenway fans and the Boston baseball writers. Near the end of his career, as he left the field late in the season, he spit at the fans and at the press box.

And for that dirty deed, Williams was fined $5,000 by Red Sox manager Joe Cronin, perhaps the most expensive saliva ever produced.

—QUOTE: From Ted Williams after he heard that Denny McLain poured water over the heads of two writers: “I don’t think that’s too bad. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it.”

—SPARE THE ROD: When Rod Carew cracked his 3,000th hit, his Minnesota Twins manager, Gene Mauch, said it really was his 7,000th hit. Why? Because of the way Carew worked in the batting cage.

“Those 3,000 hits were only the tip of the iceberg,” said Mauch. “Rodney probably hit 4,000 others in batting practice. He didn’t just go up there in batting practice swinging away or playing pepper. Every swing had a purpose. Rodney in the batting cage was a University of Hitting. He worked longer hours than a plumber.”

—QUOTE: Rod Carew on hitting ‘em where they ain’t: “I get a kick out of teams trying to defense me. A player moves two steps in one direction and I hit it two steps the other way. It goes right by his glove and I laugh.”

—FOR HOW MUCH???: Pending approval, Peter Angelos is selling the Baltimore Orioles for $1.7 billion. That’s billion with a ‘B’ as in behemoth.

I’ve checked my wallet, my bank account and the loose change in my jeans pocket, but I’m about $1,666,666,699.98 short of being able to purchse the Cincinnati Reds.

Speaking of the Reds, long-time media relations director Rob Butcher is calling it an illustrious career after 27 years with the Reds.

And as is appropriate, Butcher’s long-time assistant, Larry Herms, steps in as head of the media relations department. Herms has served in the media relations department for 27 years.

The traansition will be seamless and in the totally capable hands of Herms, a dedicated and highly efficient media person.

And best of all, a really nice guy.

—OBI’S SCENERY CHANGE: When former University of Dayton megastar Obi Toppin was with the New York Knicks, to coach Tom Thibodeau Toppin was like Tamia’s song, ‘Stranger In My House.” Thibodeau harbors a misplaced mistrust of young players and lets them sit on the sidelines until their butts get numb.

The Knicks traded Toppin to the Indiana Pacers and it was personal liberation. Pacers coach Rick Carlisle harbors no qualms about whom he plays. If you produce you play.

In a game last week, Toppin led the Pacers with 23 points, 11 rebounds and had the winning stick-back bucket at the buzzer to win the game.

—MORE NBA STUPIDITY: Talk about archaic, the NBA has a patently stupid, dumb, preposterous rule that makes zero sense.

A player must appear in at leas 65 of the 82 regular season NBA games to qualify for any post-season awards. That means one of the NBA’s best players, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiiid, is out of consideration, due to injuries, for the Most Valuable Player award. He won’t play in 65 games.

Did I mention that the rule is patently stupid, dumb and preposterous?

—LALLAPA-LOSER: There has to be a worst team in Division I basketball, number 362 of 362 schools playing Division I. Who holds the dubious distinction?

That would be the Delta Devils of Mississippi Valley State, who have lost one less game than the number of letters in Mississippi Valley State.

The Dust Devils, er, Delta Devils are 0-21 and they’ve lost games by 59 points, 50, 46, 43, 39, 36, 32, 29 and 24. Their closest sniff at victory was a 68-65 overtime loss at Pacific.

MVS, a member of the all-black SWAC, has played only four home game and 17 on the road.

An acquaintance in Greenville, Miss., told me, “When the referee tosses the ball into the air to start the game, Mississsippi Valley State is down 10-0. From the sounds of the final scores, it is more like 20-0.

—DRIVE LIKE WHAT?: A friend spotted this bumper sticker: “I’m a veterinarian, so I can drive like an animal.”

Does that mean the roads are full of proctologists?
—QUOTING ‘EM AGAIN: Some more strange and wonderful things ballplayers say and these all are Cincinnati Reds related:

From Chris Sabo when somebody suggested he should pray for hits: “If it was that easy, Billy Graham would hit .400.”

From former pitching coach Stan Williams when asked what to do about his struggling relief pitchers: “I have an idea what to do about our bullpen. . .napalm.”

From pitcher Mark Portugal, who had several starts rained out while he was fueding with owner Marge Schott: “Mother Nature is my second worst female enemy and I won’t tell you who number one is.”

From broadcaster Ralph Kiner when Reds catcher Dann Bilardello came up to bat: “Now walking up to the plate is Don Bordello.”

From Pittsburgh pitcher Bob Patterson on the pitch he threw to give up a game-winning home run to Barry Larkin: “It was a cross between a screwball and a change-up. It was a screw-up.”

From Johnny Bench when asked after he retired if he would return to playing: “I thought about making a comeback until I pulled a muscle vacuuming.”

From outfielder Alex Johnson when asked to explain the power difference from hitting two home runs one year to hitting seven early the next season: “Five.”

From former manager Lou Piniella when asked how he handles the Nasty Boys — Rob Dibble, Norm Charlton and Randy Myers: “If I worried about my kids the way I worry about those kids, I’d get a Father of the Year award.”

From former Reds President/General Manager Bob Howsam: “Sparky Anderson came here promising to builld a team in his own image, so we’re looking for small white infielders with .213 batting averages.”

Bonus quote: Spoken to me when I interviewed Dayton-born pitcher Roger Clemens, who left town at an early age: “The best thing about Dayton was seeing it in the rear view mirror.”

—PLAYLIST NUMBER 13: So you’d think I would run out of songs? Not yet. Not ever.

You Raise Me Up (Josh Groban), Dock Of The Bay (Otis Redding), Heard It On The Grapevine (Marvin Gaye), Angel Of The Morning (Juice Newton), Fire And Rain (James Taylor), That’s What Friends Are For (Dionne Warwick).

Who’ll Stop The Rain (Credence Clearwater Revival), Mr. Bojangles (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band),
Can’t Help Falling In Love (Elvis Presley), I Want To Hold Your Hand (The Beatles), Draggin’ The Line (Tommy James).

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