By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave wondering what in the hell just happened. . .the Reds rose from the dead and are in the playoffs.
—Joey Votto, ‘The Last Man Standing’ with the Cincinnati Reds, is the only player left from former Reds’ playoff teams. He played on three previous playoff teams, but made an astounding statement after the Reds clinched a playoff spot Friday night.
“Better, we’re better,” he said referring to this year’s team, a team that was 16-and-21 heading into September, then went on an 11-3 run to grab a postseason ticket. “I like this team much better than those teams, and I liked those teams.”
Until September, this team anchored with Great Expectations, was full of underachievers. One of them was pitcher Michael Lorenzen, a guy who struggled mightily in the early going, as did so many of them.
And like the rest of them who failed early — Raisel Iglesias, Shogo Akiyama, Mike Moustakas, Nick Castellanos, Luis Castillo, Freddy Galvis, Eugenio Suarez. . .ad nauseam — Lorenzen & Company came back with a vengeance.
“We definitely had to earn it because nothing was given to us and we had to earn it, each and every way,” said Lorenzen. “It wasn’t easy for us. Nothing was handed to us. It feels so much better because of the adversity we had to push through.
“We want this to be the norm from here on out,” he added. “It’s awesome. I can’t explain the feeling, but it’s awesome. And going into the post-season with the momentum we have, we’re a dangerous team. A team with a lot to prove is a dangerous team.”
If there is anybody on this team that epitomizes what it is all about, it is closer Raisel Iglesias. For the first couple of months Iglesias was so bad he couldn’t retire Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and Goofy 1-2-3. Fans wanted him stripped of his uniform and shipped back to the Dominican Republic in sealed container.
Suddenly, like the rest of the team, he did a complete reversal, a perfect pirouette. With confidence oozing out of every pore, he finished the season on an untouchable roll — 7 2/3 innings, no runs, one hit, nine strikeouts and just two base runners.
—Great American Ball Park is a place where home runs grow on trees. They are there for the picking.
One former Reds player owns four of the 13 longest home runs hit at GABP and it isn’t Adam Dunn and it isn’t Ken Griffey Jr. Griffey isn’t in the top 20.
The distance champion is Todd Frazier with the sixth, eighth and 13th (two the same distance) longest blasts — 485, 480 and 474 twice. None came in the All-Star game Home Run Derby, which Frazier won. Those don’t count.
The most prodigious poke , though, does belong to Adam Dunn, a 535-footer that cleared the right field sun deck, landed on Mehring Way and bounced onto a piece of flotsam on the north bank of the Ohio River. Jose Lima through the pitch that nearly landed in Lima, Ohio.
—QUOTE: From Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle, who hit 536 career home runs, one that traveled 565 feet: “The hardest thing to do in sports, i think, is to hit a home run.” (The Mick never played in GABP.)
—Baseball creates some unusual oddities and one of them is that Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron both scored exactly 2,174 runs during their careers.
—QUOTE: From Hank Aaron: “I never thought home runs were all that exciting. I still think the triple is the most exciting thing in baseball. To me, a triple is like a guy taking the ball on his 1-yard line and running 99 yards for a touchdown.” (Hard to believe, but Babe Ruth had 136 triples and Aaron had 98.)
—Speaking of Hank Aaron, love The Hammer’s quote about Pete Rose: “Does Pete hustle? Before the All-Star game he came into the clubhouse and took off his shoes and they ran another mile without him.”
—For the first time in 16 years, the Toronto Blue Jays qualified for the Pandemic Playoffs. Unfortunately for Toronto fans, they really were the Buffalo Blue Jays this season. Of course, no fans could watch in person in either place, even with the team Shufflin’ off to Buffalo.
—Zack Wheeler promises to be more careful in the future when he puts on his pants. The Philadelphia Phillies pitcher missed a scheduled start when he ripped the nail off the middle finger of his pitching hand. . .pulling on his pants.
That’s even more bizarre than the time Cincinnati’s Hal Morris fouled a ball into the dugout and teammate Brandon Larsen jumped out of the way. He was not harmed until he tripped while dodging the ball, fell to the floor and broke his arm.
The dumbest baseball injury? Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz once burned his chest while ironing his shirt, while wearing the shirt. They say he was really steamed about it.
—People ask me how long I intend to continue writing and I always tell them, “When my head hits the laptop.” The most famous sports writer of them all, the flowery Grantland Rice, died while typing a story. That’s how I want to go and I hope I’ve finished the last paragraph before it happens.
—QUOTE: From Grantland Rice: “I learned much more from defeat than I ever learned from winning.” (If that’s the case, consider me well-educated.)
—On a whim, while watching TVG, I chose the six-horse for $10 across in an 18-horse field at Chantilly. I didn’t even know where Chantilly is (Chantilly, Orse, France — I looked it up), but the horse won and paid $154 for a $30 wager.
—QUOTE: From singing icon Nat King Cole:
“The only sport I’m not interested in is horse racing. That’s because I don’t know the horses personally.” (I understand, Mr. Cole. Not many of my horse picks are ‘Unforgettable.’)
—Obnoxious Commercial VII: The Geico commercial where a guy is irritated with his mother for calling him while he is under siege from guys scrambling out of a helicopter. So why did the guy answer the call?