By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, still stunned from a very large black bug (What kind? I’m no entomologist) that buzzed my La-Z-Boy recliner. It hit me right between the eyes, making his aim better than the Cincinnati Reds bullpen.
—With the Detroit Tigers on a roll and the Chicago White Sox whacking everybody, could one of those two make the World Series?
Why not? Most everybody still has a chance, except a few. . .(enter Cincinnati Reds comments here).
After the 1984 World Series, won by the Detroit Tigers, a few of us boarded a media bus at Tiger Stadium for the ride back to the hotel. They were celebrating in the streets. Oh, how they were celebrating.
They began rocking the bus and banging on the windows. The driver bailed out, abandoning his driver’s seat. We, too abandoned and walked down the middle of Michigan Avenue for the short jaunt to the hotel.
En route we saw a burning taxi, a car on its side and a guy running naked. It was as if umpire Angel Hernandez made a bad call that cost the Tigers the title.
Before the 2005 World Series at then Comiskey Park, sitting in the middle of a shady and shaky neighborhood on the south side, we were warned to leave the park in groups.
Being stubborn, I defied it and was walking by myself toward the media bus but with my poor eyesight I made a wrong turn and found myself on a side street.
A very large menace-looking man approached me and asked belligerently, “Where do you think you’re going?”
I was reaching for my wallet to give him while saying, “I’m legally blind and got lost trying to find my the media bus.”
He asked, “Where is it?” I told him the approximate vicinity and he grabbed my arm and led me to the bus. I gave him $20 and thanked him a thousand times.
Jack McKeon took over as manager of the Florida Marlins in 2003 and led them to a World Series championship.
During his days as manager of the Reds McKeon and I became close cigar-puffing friends. When he spotted me on the field during batting practice before the first game in Miami, he grabbed me and led me to small room behind the Marlins dugout. We sat and puffed cigars and talked. He invited me back there for all three games, “To get away from the media horde.”
That first night he dropped his Padron on his Marlins jersey and burned a hole in it. He didn’t change it, but when the Marlins lost that night he changed it and they won the next two.
I often wondered if he burned that original shirt of sent it to the Hall of Fame.
—Of all the records set by Pete Rose there is one statistic that strikes me as most interesting. Rose had more walks (1,566) than strikeouts (1,143) during his major league career. Rose hated strikeouts more than he hated Bud Harrelson.
And there is another one. Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. participated in 350 double plays during his 21-year career. Not defensively. Offensively. He hit into a major league record 350 double plays.
But Ripken never did what Joe Torre did. Torre hit into four double plays in one game.
—QUOTE: From former major league pitcher Earl Wilson: “A baseball game is simply a nervous breakdown divided into nine innings.” (With the Cincinnati Reds bullpen, the nervous breakdowns usually happen in the eighth or ninth innings.)
—Striking out three times in a game is called a hat trick. Striking out four times in a game is The Golden Sombrero. And Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez owns a whole closet full of gold headwear.
He has struck out four times in a game 11 times, most in Reds history. . .and counting.
It is OK, though, if you do what Evan Longoria did for Tampa Bay in 2009. He struck out four times, but he also hit two home runs, including a walk-off blast.
The all-time champion at wearing the Golden Sombrero is Ryan Howard. He struck out four times in a game 27 times.
What if a guy strikes out five times? That’s a Platinum Sombrero. Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees struck out five times in a game in 2018. . .and eight times in one day when he whiffed three more times in the second game of a doubleheader.
—QUOTE: Former Kansas City star George Brett on strikeouts: “. . .I get a kick out of seeing the all-time leaders and my name’s at the top of every one, with the exception of strikeouts. I get a kick out of that.”
—Ya gotta love The Cowboy. The Reds radio broadcaster made a couple of rare TV appearances this week and came up with a couple of gems.
On putting a runner on second base to start extra inning games, Brantley said, “I’m not a big fan. I want that guy to earn his way to second base. I don’t want the commissioner putting him there.”
As the Cardinals piled up 23 hits and 16 runs on the Reds, there was talk about launch angles and exit velocities and Brantley said, “It doesn’t look like the Cardinals care about launch angle and exit velocity, they just put the ball in play up the middle and from gap to gap.”
—For some fantastic reading, latch on to a copy of the book ‘Oscar Charleston,’ subtitled, “The Life and Legend of Baseball’s Greatest Forgotten Player.”
The well-researched book is a historical dive into the Negro National League. Many who saw Charleston play, both white and black, called Charleston the greatest baseball player of all-time, white or black.
—QUOTE: From famous Negro League star Buck O’Neill: “Oscar Charleston was Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Babe Ruth rolled into one.”
—The computers are working over time in the ‘Analytics Room’ on Chicago’s south side. Through 35 games, the 22-13 Chicago White Sox had not put down a single sacrifice bunt.
How much has the game changed? The 1959 Go-Go Sox, American League champions, bunted 84 times. Center fielder Jim Landis put down 13 sacrifice bunts, shortstop Luis Aparicio did it 11 times and second baseman Nellie Fox sacrificed nine times.
—QUOTE: From British advertising executive David Ogilvy, who never put on a baseball uniform but certainly knows today’s game: “Don’t bunt. Aim out of the ball park. Aim for the company of immortals.”
—It can always be worse, can’t it? On the night the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Reds, 16-2 the San Francisco Giants gouged the Colorado Rockies, 23-5. But that was in Coors Field, so does it count?
Neverless, Ralph Lunsford of West Alexandria came up with a funny line after the Reds’ 16-2 debacle: “I would be surprised if the cardboard cutouts showed up for the Reds’ game today.”
Speaking of Coors, on July 4, 2008, the Rockies trailed the then Florida Marlins, 17-16 going into the bottom of the ninth. The Rockies put together four straight singles, including a walk-off single by Chris Iannetta to win, 18-17.
—QUOTE: From New York columnist Jimmy Breslin: “Baseball isn’t statistics. Baseball is Joe DiMaggio rounding second.” (And he didn’t mean on a home run trot.)
—Despite the fact he must start from the 17th post, about the width of Interstate-75 from the rail, Tiz the Law should win Saturday’s long-delayed Kentucky Derby by at least 10 lengths.
Tiz the Law is a thoroughbred in a field of a bunch of Tennessee plow horses. They should give the rest of the field a 10-length head start.
—QUOTE: From gonzo novelist Hunter S. Thompson: “The best thing about the Kentucky Derby is that it is only two minutes long. It is the quickest event in sports, except for sumo wrestling and Mike Tyson fights.”
—Nobody loves the ‘Cheers’ theme song more than I do, but c’mon, man. Applebee’s is using it in a commercial and by actual count I heard it 15 times in one day. Yeah, I watch too much television.