By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave after a winter’s worth of reading about baseball and now ready for Real Baseball and here is what I’ve read:
—The Spaceman Chronicles (Bill Lee), Scott Russell.
—Season in Hell, Mike Shropshire.
—Bill Veeck, Paul Dickson.
—Tom Seaver, Bill Madden
—24, John Shea.
—Oscar Charleston, Jeremy Beer
—Cool Papa Bell, Lonnie Wheeler.
—Clemente, David Marinass.
—The Last Hero (Hank Aaron), Howard Bryant.
—The Called Shot, Thomas Wolf.
—Billyball, Dale Tafoya.
—Showdown at Rickwood, Art Black.
—Dalko, Dembski, Thoms, Vikander.
—News out of Goodyear, Ariz., spring training home of the Cincinnati Reds, is a bit disconcerting.
Major League baseball indicates it plans to deaden the baseball this season, make it more difficult for 170-pound second basemen to launch home runs.
Yet we are hearing player-after-player on the Reds say they plan to plug in the power and swing for the outfield cardboard cutouts.
First Joey Votto says he plans to turn on the power switch, be more aggressive, swing harder, be dangerous, hit more home runs.
Then outfielder Shogo Akiyama, who hit zero home runs in 54 games last year, says he worked in the off-season to produce more power.
“Through workouts, I value each swing more with power compared to where I used to focus on contact and shape of the swing,” he said. “Just looking ahead to Spring Training, I hope I can produce results moving forward.”
Then Eugenio Suarez weighs in via a Zoom media conference with this: “This year, my goal is to break my own record (most home run by a Venezualan-born major-leaguer). This year I hope and I believe and I feel it is going to be a special year for me. I’m going for 50 homers.”
Let’s recall last season…Votto hit .226, Akiyama hit a robust (for this tea) .245 and Suarez hit .202.
How about concentrating on putting the ball in play, squaring up the bat on the ball to produce some singles and doubles. That might lift that dismal .212 team batting average the Reds compiled last season.
—QUOTE: Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams is the only pitcher in history (with a minimum of 500 innings pitched) to have given up more walks than hits. Commenting on their participation in a celebrity baseball game, teammate Andy Van Slyke said, “Patrick Ewing is 7-feet tall and has a 6-foot strike zone. Mitch walked him.”
—What is it with the Horizon League? Is it myopic?
Wright State and Cleveland State tied for the regular season basketball championship. By some convulted process the league made CSU the No. 1 seed and WSU the No. 2 seed.
How? They said it was strength of schedule.
OK. CSU played three non-league games and lost them all, 101-46 to Ohio University, 70-61 to Toledo and 67-61 to Ohio State. WSU played three non-league games and won two. They lost to Marshall, 80-64, then blasted Miami, 71-47, and ripped Bowling Green, 85-67.
In the NET rankings, the major tool used by the NCAA to select tournament teams, Wright State is 65th and Cleveland State is 104 teams lower at 167.
In head-to-head games, Cleveland Stater won the first game, 66-64. The next night WSU obliterated CSU, 85-40.
It would have made more sense if the Horizon League said, “We’re doing it by alphabetical order.”
—QUOTE: From former Marquette basketball coach Al McGuire: “If the waitress has dirty ankles, the chili is good.” (He also said, “In New York, if you fall down they’ll help you up by your wallet.”)
—Back in 1966, the Miami Marlins of the Class A Florida State League defeated the St. Petersburg Cardinals, 4-3, in 29 innings, still the longest uninterrupted professional game in history.
The manager of the losing Cardinals was a 32-year-old guy named Sparky Anderson. Despite that loss, Sparky led the Cardinals to a 91-45 record and the FSL championship.
And no that 29-inning loss didn’t turn Sparky’s hair gray. It already was gray.
—Rob Manfred’s baseball commissionership and his continued tinkering with the game has earned him an apropos nickname from friend and staunch Cincinnati Reds fan Rob Johnson: “Manfred’s Reign of Error.”
It almost makes a fan wish that Spike Eckert, ‘The Unknown Soldier,’ was still commissioner. Or Bowie Kuhn? Nah, not that one.
—Quarterback Cam Newton managed to put two words in the same sentence that have never before appeared in the same sentence, “Belichick and dope.”
While New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has six Super Bowl rings, Newton has no rings, no job and seven kids.
—QUOTE: From New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick: “I don’t Twitter, I don’t MyFace, I don’t do Yearbook.” (We assume he meant Facebook, but maybe he doesn’t like his Yearbook, either.)
—The Pittsburgh Steelers have agreed to permit 38-year-old quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to return for 2021. Who does he think he is, Tom Brady?
Believe it or not, Roethlisberger makes more money than Brady, $19 million to $15 million.
And would you believe that Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes made only $825,000? Well, OK, he did sign a $10 million signing bonus.
Meanwhile. . .hold your breath. . .Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson made $35 million. While he has been on eight Pro Bowl teams, he has the same number of Super Bowl rings as wedding rings. One.