By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave wondering if the Cincinnati Reds, hitting .210 for the season, can beat the record of lowest team average for a season, .212 by the 1910 Chicago White Sox during the dead ball era. Of course, with a 60-game season, it will have an asterisk.
—When you are quickly sneaking up on the 80th year of your existence on this planet, mortality becomes a big word in your vocabulary.
And mortality demands your attention even more when baseball players you covered, baseball players who are now Hall of Famers, leave us.
That’s one reason it put two lumps in my throat when Tom Seaver and Lou Brock passed away six days apart. Seaver was 75 and Brock was 81.
As I sat in my La-Z-Boy daydreaming of long days past, I conjured visions of Seaver dragging his knee on the ground during his delivery while winning 311 games. And I envisioned Lou Brock dashing to second, third or home while stealing 938 bases. He stole home twice.
I wondered: How did Lou Brock do against Tom Seaver, mano y mano. . .or, how did Tom Seaver do against Lou Brock, mano y mano?
So I looked it up and was amazed. It turns out that Brock faced Seaver more times than he faced any other pitcher. And Seaver faced Brock more he he pitched against any other batter.
Brock was 38 for 152 (.250) with 10 doubles, one triple and just one home run against Seaver. He struck out 21 times and Seaver walked him four times.
When Seaver pitched his only no-hitter, working for the Cincinnati Reds in 1978, it was against the St. Louis Cardinals in Riverfront Stadium and Brock batted leadoff. Brock was 0 for 4 with two ground balls and two pop-ups.
Seaver loved to tell the story about the day he walked into the clubhouse in Anaheim for the 1967 All-Star game. Seaver owned a baby face and in 1967 he was only 19.
“I looked like I was about 17 and Brock looked at me and said, ‘Hey kid, get me a Coke.’ And I said, ‘Get your own f——— Coke. I’m on the team.’ And he goes, ‘Who are you?’”
For the next two decade Brock knew exactly who Seaver was and never again asked him to fetch him a soft drink.
—QUOTE: From Lou Brock: “When I was a kid, I used to imagine animals running under my bed. I told my dad and he solved the problem quickly. He cut the legs off the bed.” (And Brock cuts the legs out from many shortstops and second basemen.)
—QUOTE: From Tom Seaver, who liked to throw about 135 pitches a game, on today’s pitch-count methods: “Kids today, want to be men, want to be foxhole guys. But they’re not allowed to do that. Imagine if these computer geeks running baseball now were allowed to run a war? They’d tell our soldiers, ‘That’s enough. You’ve fired too many bullets from your rifle this week.’” (Seaver fired bullets from the first through the ninth for complete games 171 times.)
—The Los Angeles Dodgers are 5-and-1 in extra-inning games, but that doesn’t mean their best pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, has to like the put a runner on second base rule.
In fact, he doesn’t.
“It’s not real baseball,” he said after his Dodgers won back-to-back extra-inning games at Arizona. “But it’s fine for this year and I hope we never do it again.”
In another of MLB’s head-scratches, the rule won’t be used in the playoffs. So there could be an 18-inning game, which is what MLB wants to avoid.
—Even if you are the most dedicated and informed Cincinnati Reds fan, it is odds-on that you never heard of Pop Smith.
He played only one season for the Reds and that was in 1880. That’s 1880, not 1980. Pop played 83 games at second base and made 83 errors.
So, to play that many games and average an error a game, he must have been quite the hitter, right? Nope. He hit .207.
Pop Jones? Had to be an alias. For sure he didn’t want anybody to know his real name
—QUOTE: From Hall of Fame catcher and quotemaster Yogi Berra after errors cost his New York Yankees a game: “We made too many wrong mistakes.” (Poor Pop Jones’ middle name was Wrong Mistakes.)
—Cincinnati Reds pitcher Amir Garrett says he has an alter ego, one off the field and one on the field.
“I’m Amir right now off the field. That guy on the mound? That’s a crazy guy,” Garrett said. “That guy’s a psychopath. A.G. is crazy, I’m telling you. That guy is something else. But the energy he brings? I feel like the team picks up on it.”
So what does A.G. stand for? Probably Angry Guy.
—When the St. Louis Cardinals hit four home runs and scored 10 runs in the first four innings this week in Busch Stadium against Detroit, one of the St. Louis Cardinals broadcasters said, “What’s going on here? This isn’t Great American Ball Park.”
Oh, to have such an unsavory reputation.
—QUOTE: From controversial baseball owner/promoter Bll Veeck, whose autobiography was titled ‘Veeck, As in Wreck:’ “The most beautiful thing in the world is a ballpark filled with people.” (Two strikes, there, Bill. No fans in the stands and pitchers hate coming t GABP, fans or no fans._
—This one was a ‘Can’t Miss.’ On Friday, the anniversary of Pete Rose passing Ty Cobb to become The Hit King. There was a horse in the first race at Gulfstream named Congrats Rosie. And, incredibly, she wore No. 14.
She came from last to win the race. With a name like that on this special day, and wearing No. 14, how could she lose?
—QUOTE: From comedian Henny Youngman: “My horse’s jockey was hitting the horse with the whip. The horse turns his head and says, ‘Why are you hitting me? There is nobody behind us.’”
—Annoying Commercial III: The Geico commercial that ends with Idina Menzel singing in a loud a cappella, “I read that wrong, oh yeah.” And I thought I had enough of Flo on Progressive?
Now, get off my lawn.