By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave as I sit here on my 80th year of life and wondering how in the hell I got here, but it has been one extremely fortunate and glorious ride. I am so thankful for my wonderful wife, Nadine, my great family and all you fabulous readers who know how to make an old guy feel good.
—At the risk of whipping a dead horse, some of which I have placed wagers on, may we one last time consider what happened to the Cincinnati Reds this season — a downer turned into a brief upper and ending with a ker-plunk.
The Reds finally finished a regular, albeit a shortened one, over .500. To prove how great the pitching was, the Reds scored two or less runs in 21 of their 62 games.
One of the new-fangled stats they have foisted on us since computers began managing baseball teams is base hits on ball put in play. That is an average that doesn’t take into consideration strikeouts or home runs.
On ball put in play, the Reds hit only .245. That’s the lowest since the 1968 New York Yankees hit .241 on balls put into play. And it is the second lowest since the deadball era ended in 1920.
Maybe the most amazing number of all is that the Reds had more walks (239) than singles (221). That’s a product of the team putting an emphasis last season on batters knowing the strike zone, an emphasis of not swinging at pitches outside the strike zone.
Joey Votto, The Walkmaster, already knew how to do that. But, there were still too many players striking out on pitches they couldn’t reach with a boat oar or a step ladder.
Another new-fangled statistic is exit velocity — the miles per hour a baseball leaves the bat when struck. Amazingly, they began measuring that in 2015 and from 2015 through 2019 the Reds had the worst exit velocity of all MLB teams.
That’s it. Now some fast exit velocity from this subject.
—If you blinked, you missed it. Brooks Raley, a relief pitcher for the Houston Astros, began the season with the Cincinnati Reds. If you go to baseball-reference.com, he is wearing a Reds hat in his photo.
Raley is another feel-good story. He spent five years in the Korean Baseball Organization pitching for the Lotte Giants. The Reds signed him to a minor league contract for 2020.
After four appearances over four innings this season, he was designated for assignment and on August 9 he was traded to Houston for a player to be named later. That players has yet to be named.
Well, he does have a name. We just don’t yet know who he is.
Meanwhile, Raley was one of five rookie pitchers manager Dusty Baker sent to the mound in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, a 4-3 Astros victory. Raley retired three straight, striking out two. In Game 3, he pitched 2 2/3 innings — no runs, two hits, two walks, five strikeouts.
Strangely, he wasn’t that good in Korea, a 48-53 record with a 4.13 earned run average. As former MLB pitcher Joaquin Andujar once said, “I’ll say it in one word. . .youneverknow.”
—After the Houston Astros came from love-three down to three-three in the American League Championship Series, manager Dusty Baker said, “You’ve gotta love this team. Some people hate this team, but you’ve at least got to respect this team.”
There is no manager in baseball I respect more than Baker. There is no team in baseball I disrespect more than the Houston Astros — mainly the ones still around from the 2017 Cheatin’ Astros, the trash can bangers.
It will take a long time to remove that large smudge from the front of those ugly orange uniforms.
—If Cincinnati Bengals rookie quarterback Joe Burrow can survive his Maginot offensive line for the entire season, he will have a better record for his first year than did Troy Aikman.
Aikman went 0-and-13 his rookie year with the Dallas Cowboys. And look what happened. Burrow already has a win and a tie.
And how about Peyton Manning. He was 3-and-13 his rookie season and turned that around to 13-and-3 his second year.
Somewhere in a bio it says that Burrow can play Tom Petty’s ‘Free Fallin’ on his guitar. With that Bengals line he’ll be doing a lot of fallin’, but it won’t be free.
—The Pro Bowl has been canceled. And before all you bowling pros put away those 16-pound balls, we mean the NFL’s Pro Bowl, the most superfluous ‘All-Star’ game of them all. In fact, I’ve never watched one and thought they killed it off years ago.
—QUOTE: From Cleveland Browns receiver Jarvis Landry, who didn’t know that the Baltimore Ravens used to be the Cleveland Browns: “So really? The Cleveland team became the Baltimore Ravens? Damn. That hurt, didn’t it?” (In more ways than you’ll ever know, Jarvis.)
—They keep historical facts on everything, and I mean everything. When LA’s Will Smith hit a three-run home run off Atlanta pitcher Will Smith, it was the first time a player with the same first-and-last name ever hit a home run off a guy with the same first-and-last name. Got that?
That would never happen to former MLB pitcher Marc Rzepczynski.
—As my great friend Ray Snedegar points out, “Dove chocolate tastes way better than their soap.”
And my mom never shoved chocolate into my mouth when I swore as a kid.