By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave wondering if I should ever shave again after seeing all the beards in baseball, like Archie Bradley, Tucker Barnhart, Bryce Harper, Charlie Blackmon and Jake Arrieta, among many, many others.
—Dave Concepcion is the best shortstop of all-time who is not in the Hall of Fame. And why that is continues to be one of baseball’s great mysteries.
The fact that he played on The Big Red Machine — so many great players, so many already in the Hall of Fame — undoubtedly works against him.
If nothing else, he led the team in nicknames.
One day in Philadelphia, Concepcion boarded the team bus wearing a tan suit with a large checkerboard design and a brown velvet bow tie.
Pete Rose said, “You look like Bozo the Clown,” and the name stuck. Rose called him Bozo from then on.
The team also was in Philadelphia before one game and opposing shortstop Larry Bowa kept yelling at Concepcion, who was taking infield practice.
“Hey, Elmer,” Bowa shouted. “Hey, Elmer.” and he kept it up. Finally, Concepcion walked to the Phillies dugout and asked Bowa, “Why you call me Elmer?”
“Because every time I look at a Reds box score in the paper, it says, ‘E-Concepcion,’ so I figured your real name is Elmer.”
It was a dig from one shortstop to another. The E-Concepcion denotes that he made an error. As reader Mark Andrew pointed out, during that series Concepcion made a spectacular play and yelled at Bowa, “Yeah, Elmer. Elmer’s Glue.”
Concepcion wore a pair of shower clogs in the clubhouse and on top of them he had written, “Mague.” He would never reveal what it meant, but one definition is: “A charming, expressive personality, affectionate and caring.”
Describes him perfectly. And it could have added, “Underrated outside the city of Cincinnati.”
—Leave it up to stage-hog umpire Joe West to do something never done before. . .and then give a flippant remark about it.
With no fans in the stands, loud comments can be heard from distant reaches of the ball parks. Even the luxury suites.
Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo loudly expressed his dissatisfaction with West’s eye-sight from his perch high above the stadium. West heard him. West ejected him.
Said West, “I wouldn’t take that from a player. I wouldn’t take that from a manager. If it was Donald Trump, I’d eject him, too. But I’d still vote for him.”
(This was a non-paid political announcement and management doesn’t necessarily agree with West. This space seldom agrees with Joe West.)
—Loved what former Reds first baseman Sean Casey did this week on MLB-TV’s MLB Central Show. His good friend and former teammate Aaron Boone, now managing the New York Yankees, watched his team give up 10 runs in one inning to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Casey had the MLB Central crew play Tom Petty’s ‘Don’t Do Me Like That.’ And Casey sang along, highly off-key.
—Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Steven Brault, who pitched admirably against the Reds recently, probably can make the ball sing.
Brault also is a professional vocalist. He has sung the National Anthem a few times at PNC Park and he has been a guest vocalist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He is releasing an album called ‘A Pitch at Broadway,’ songs from Broadway shows.
If, during a game, Pirates manager Derek Shelton hears somebody singing the lyrics from the song ‘Centerfield,’ — “Put me in coach, I’m ready to play today” — he knows it’s Brault.
—No sport keeps more statistics than baseball and some are just unfathomable. For example, how about this one?
Infielder Mark Lemke went to the plate 3,664 times and never once got a hit by a pitch. Not once. That’s the all-time record.
Obviously, he never faced Bob Gibson or Don Drysdale. And he didn’t participate in any Reds-Pirates game with Clint Hurdle managing the Pirates.
On the flip side, Craig Biggio was hit by pitches 287 times during his career. And Reed Johnson was hit three times in one game.
—QUOTE: From former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Dontrelle Willis: “I’ll do whatever it takes to win a game. If that means getting hit by a pitch, I’ll do it. Whatever it takes.” (Obviously, Mark Lemke never had to take one for the team. . .or refused to do it.)
—Don’t waste your time watching NFL games this year. ESPN already conducted a full-season game-by-game virtual season. Both the Browns and Bengals finished 7-and-9?
The Super Bowl? The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 42-13. Say what? The Cowboys? In the Super Bowl?
If Kansas City played the Cowboys during the regular season the score probably would be 42-13. But educate me on how in the name of Pete Rozelle that the Cowboys make the Super Bowl.
If you believe it, Las Vegas will give you 11 to 1 odds on the Cowboys playing in the Super Bowl.
—Brandon Phillips says his dream is to come back and retire as a member of the Cincinnati Reds. Sure he does.
Phillips, 39, is playing independent baseball for the Lexington Legends. And he told Fox-19’s Joe Danneman, “That’s my dream.”
Hey, maybe? The Reds are on a road to nowhere. If they are eliminated by the last week of the season, why not bring back the former All-Star second baseman, one of the team’s most popular players during his 11 seasons with the Reds.
Phillips still doesn’t speak to me for something I wrote years ago, and if he comes back he still doesn’t have to speak to me. But why not grant him that wish?
—QUOTE: From former Cleveland Indians closer Jose Mesa after former teammate Omar Vizquel criticized him and Mesa threw at him: “Even my little boy told me to get him. If I face him 10 more times, I’ll hit him 10 more times. I want to kill him.” (Kill him? Throwing at him was bad enough, but kill him? Say it ain’t so, Joe.)