By HAL McCOY
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave while thinking about the five seasons — winter, spring, summer, fall and the best season of all, baseball.
The Cincinnati Reds are off to a low-flying start, 1-and-3, and swinging as if they are using a wet rolled-up newspaper for a bat. They’ve had four hits in each of their last two losses to the Milwaukee Brewers.
It isn’t the way fans wanted to see the ‘New, Improved’ Reds and their neophyte manager begin the season. Even manager David Bell admits it is important for this team to start fast and not look back.
But if there is fear and loathing in Cincinnati, how about defending World Series champion Boston, 1-and-4. How about Atlanta (1-3), Washington (1-3) and Houston (2-4). I’ll take a four-team parlay here and wager that all four finish well above .500.
On the other side, Seattle is 7-and-1. How about Baltimore (4-1) and the New York Mets (4-1). I’ll take a three-team parlay here and wager those teams won’t finish above .500.
As Archie Bunker used to say to his wife, Edith, “Stifle yourself.” Well, for now.
OF MANY EARLY maladies infecting the early Reds, one is a problem they’ve had for several years — throwing strikes is not one of their trump cards. In the first four games, Reds pitchers have walked 26 batters and it is insufferable to watch.
So far, only three of those 26 baserunners have scored but the odds are stacked high that if it continues those runners are going to come flooding across home plate.
WHAT A RETURN TO Washington Tuesday night for Bryce Harper. The former National, now wearing a Phillies uniform, was booed heavily by his former admirers and they had 300 million reasons for it. Harper turned down $300 million to stay with the Nationals, then signed with the Phillies for $330 million.
Before facing Washington ace and former teammate Max Scherzer, who has one blue eye and one brown eye, Harper said with a laugh, “I won’t be looking at any of his eyes.”
Scherzer struck him out the first two times then Harper doubled. He singled off a different pitcher his next time and then, and then, then. . .
Harper is a magician. He makes baseballs disappear. His third hit was a home run he knocked into next year, a 458-foot upper decker.
And then he did what makes him sometimes look like oxygen searching for an open flame. He did a theatrical show-up-the-pitcher bat flip. It was the kind of look-at-me moment that should get him knocked on his posterior in the near future. But it won’t happen. Baseball isn’t played that way any more.
SPEAKING OF THE way baseball is played these days, these old, feeble, weak eyes couldn’t believe what they saw late Tuesday night on the west coast.
The San Francisco Giants trailed the Los Angeles Dodgers, 6-5, in the ninth inning. They had runners on third and first with one out against LA closer Kenley Jansen.
SF manager Bruce Bochy sent Pablo Sandoval to pinch-hit for the pitcher. Jansen ignores base runners. Could not care less. Runners are 22 for 22 stealing bases against him.
The runner on first was Gerardo Parra, who had just banged a two-run single to bring the Giants from 6-3 down to 6-5 down.
Shouldn’t Sandoval take a pitch to permit Parra to swipe second? Sure, LA probably would walk Sandoval intentionally. But that would have filled the bases and earlier in the inning Jansen walked a batter with the bases loaded. And it would have brought up the top of the SF order.
So what did Sandoval do? Of course he did. Oh, no. He swung at the first pitch and hit into a game-ending double play.
As stated earlier, baseball isn’t played that way any more.
FOR THOSE WHO were giddy that the Kansas City Royals sent Homer Bailey to the minors and kept him off the Opening Day roster, you didn’t understand. The Royals didn’t need a fifth starter until Wednesday and that’s when they called up Homer to start against Minnesota. He pitched five innings and gave up three runs and struck out eight and stood to gain the victory. But the bullpen blew it for him.
STAT OF THE DAY: Joey Gallo of the Texas Rangers has 89 home runs for his career and 84 singles. Obviously he has this new-fangled launch angle down pat.
Meanwhile, Cody Bellinger of the L Dodgers has five home runs this season, including a grand slam Tuesday night off San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner.
Also on Tuesday night, Arizona pitcher Zack Greinke hit two home runs so even pitchers are discovering launch angle when they bat, perhaps figuring out the spin rate on opposing pitchers’ offerings.
Launch angles. Spin rate. Pass the Excedrin, I’m getting a headache.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: From Hall of Fame pitcher/broadcaster Pedro Martinez on Tampa Bay pitcher Blake Snell: “I said it early last year and I’m saying it again now. Blake Snell soon will be the best left handed pitcher in baseball.” So, Pedro, who is better right now?