By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave still dizzy from watching three of my four teams lose Tuesday in the LDS: Oakland, Miami and San Diego. Tampa Bay did win, but Meat Loaf didn’t sing ‘One Out of Four Ain’t Bad.’
—When it comes to drama and the unexpected, baseball produces better than Martin Scorsese or Stephen Spielberg, neither of whom could hit a hard slider.
This one is a ‘Like Father, Like Son’ scenario.
When David Weathers pitched for the Cincinnati Reds in 2005-06, before nearly every game, before batting practice, he and this pudgy little kid were in center field playing catch and hitting baseballs.
The kid was Weathers’ son, Ryan and he was 6-years-old.
On Tuesday night, San Diego starter Mike Clevinger pitched only the first inning and left with an injury. In the third inning, in walked Ryan Weathers to pitch.
Ryan Weathers won’t turn 21 until December and it was his major league debut after never pitching higher than Class A. And his debut was against the awesome and fearsome Los Angeles Dodgers.
Calmly and with a professionalism far beyond his years and experience, he held the Dodgers to no runs, no hits and two walks over 1 2/3 innings. And with dad sitting high up in the Petco Park stands he struck out last year’s National League MVP, Cody Bellinger.
Unlike his right handed father, who pitched 18 years in the majors, Ryan is left handed.
Weathers was as nice a guy as you would find on any major league mound, but he was angry with me one day. Weathers worked out of the Reds bullpen and there was a period when the entire bullpen struggled.
The Reds were in Cleveland for an interleague series and the bullpen was roughed up. I wrote, “The Reds bullpen right now is a pigpen.”
That day Weathers stormed into the clubhouse waving a clipping of my story and shouted, “So, we’re a pigpen, huh?”
One of Weathers best friends was co-bullpen occupant Kent Mercker, and he came to my rescue. After Weathers screamed at me, Mercker said, “Hal’s right. All I ask is that he call me the head hog.”
—QUOTE: From former major league pitcher Bill “Spaceman” Lee: “Baseball is the belly-button of our society. Straighten out baseball and you straighten out the rest of the world.” (Bill Lee should be baseball commissioner.)
—Two more snippets about the competitiveness and meanness of recently deceased pitcher Bob Gibson.
The last pitch Gibson threw in his illustrious career was hit for a grand slam by Chicago Cubs first baseman Pete LaCock.
Ten years later Gibson appeared in an old-timers game in Wrigley Field and faced LaCock. He hit him with his first pitch.
And here is another as relayed to me by a great former scout, Ben McLure. It was related to him by former St. Louis Cardinals coach George Kissell, one of the most respected baseball minds of all-time.
In Gibson’s 1968 season, when he posted a 1.12 earned run average, he started 37 games and finished 31. He was pinch-hit for in the other six when the Cardinals were behind, so manager Red Schoendienst never once walked to the mound to take the baseball away from him.
He probably was afraid to try to take it away from him.
Said McLure, “Gibson was, to me, the greatest I ever saw, righty or lefty. Sandy Koufax was in his class, but please leave Tom Seaver and all the rest out of the conversations.”
QUOTE: From Bob Gibson after he hit New York Mets rookie Jon Milner in a spring training game, even though they had never faced each other: “I heard he could hit.”
—Love what Atlanta leadoff slugger Ronald Acuna Jr., tweeted after Game 1 of the NLDS. He led the bottom of the first inning with a mammoth opposite field home run and flipped his bat and admired his handiwork. Next time up, Miami pitcher Sandy Alcantara drilled him with a 97 miles per hour fastball.
After the game, Acuna tweeted about his bat flip and personal admiration society, “I’d like to apologize to absolutely nobody.”
—QUOTE: From former pitcher Jim Bouton, author of one of baseball’s all-time best books, ‘Ball Four’: “It never hurts to apologize, especially if you don’t mean it.”
—It would be apropos in this convoluted, disjointed, fabricated season for the Houston Astros to become the first team in MLB history to win the World Series with a losing record during the season.
The Astros were 29-31 during the season and finished seven games behind the Oakland Athletics in the American League West.
And wouldn’t it be hilarious if the Astros met the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series, a rematch of the 2017 World Series during which the Astros cheated by beating trash cans to signal hitters what pitch was coming?
It put new meaning into the title of the baseball movie ‘Bang the Drum Slowly.’
—QUOTE: From LA Dodger star Cody Bellinger, the 2019 National League MVP: “Everybody knows they stole the rings from us.”
—Love watching Sean Casey on MLB Central and his fast-talking exuberance. He is at his best holding a bat and explaining the intricacies of hitting a baseball.
Casey finished his 12-year career with 1,531 hits. It should have been 1,532. He lost one hit when (are you ready for this?) he was thrown out at first base by a left fielder. It’s true. You can’t make this stuff up.
It wasn’t when he was with the Reds. He was playing for the Detroit Tigers. He lined one to left and Chicago White Sox left fielder Pablo Ozuna fielded the ball barehanded on one hop and threw a screaming bullet to first base to nip Casey.
While Casey is known to run like a greyhound — the bus, not the dog — there were extenuating circumstances.
When he hit the ball, he thought the third baseman snagged the ball and Casey did a half-pirouette at home plate before realizing the ball was landing in the grass in left field. Thus it took him eight seconds to run to first. Normal time: 4.3 seconds.
—QUOTE: From Sean O’Casey (not Sean Casey), an Irish playwright: “Laughter is wine for the soul.” (Sean Casey didn’t need wine to evoke laughter on that play.)