OBSERVATIONS: Who said they deadened the baseballs?

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave after a week on Siesta Key, the most beautiful beach in the U.S., where the sand is like sugar. But there is no place like home, especially home plate.

—They said they are deadening the baseball this year, hoping to cut down on the lethal true outcome mess — home runs, walks and strikeouts.

That certainly wasn’t evident in a Cincinnati Reds-Kansas City Royals exhibition game this week.

The Royals beat the Reds, 9-3, and never was there a more true outcome. The Royals hit four home runs, struck out 15 times and walked seven times.

About those home runs, though. Hurricane Homer was blowing out that day. The Reds didn’t take advantage, hitting only one home run.

As of this writing, the Reds are 3-7-1 and near the bottom of the 15-team Cactus League. They are ahead only of the Chicago White Sox (1-7), whom they beat Thursday night, 7-3.

Take heart, Redlegs fans. Remember what former managers Davey Johnson and Dusty Baker always said. . .don’t read anything into spring training records.

But a few wins here and there might raise some hopes just a bit.

—QUOTE: From Hall of Famer and former Reds manager Rogers Hornsby: “People ask me what I do in the winter. I’ll tell you what I do. I sit at the window and wait for spring training.”

—MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and the boys in the Oak Room are at it again. . .tinkering with more experimental rules in the minors. And one makes sense. No shifts.

It only applies early this season in Class AA. Teams will be required to have a minimum of four players on the infield, each of whom must have both feet completely in front of the outer boundary of the infield dirt. And based on first-half data, it may require teams to position two infielders on either side of second base during the second half of the season.

Can’t we do it NOW in the majors?

They also are implementing some trial rules in the minors this season that require a 15-second clock on pitchers and a limited amount of times a pitcher may make pickoff throws to first base.

They can call the pickoff rule ‘The Chris Welsh Rule.”

Welsh, now a Reds TV broadcaster, made his debut with the Cincinnati Reds on June 1, 1986. The then 31-year-old left hander was facing the St. Louis Cardinals. Base thief Vince Coleman, known as Vince Van Go, was on the first base, “And I just knew he was going to try to steal,” said Welsh.

So he threw over to first base 17 straight times. It took 7 minutes and 21 seconds. After 17 throwovers, Welsh delivered a pitch. And Coleman stole second base.

“I once heard from someone in the minor leagues, I can’t remember who, but he said: ‘You know my theory on picking runners off? Throw over one more time than you think is necessary.’ I guess I took that to the extreme,” said Welsh.

—March Madness is upon us and the madness is underway. Duke is gone, losing to COVID-19 that ended its season and thus endeth the Dukies 24 straight seasons in the NCAA tournament. And the Blue Devils aren’t alone. North Carolina A&T, the MEAC’s No. 1 seed, also forfeited its tournament spot due to COVID-19.

A long perplexing season for Kentucky ended with a loss in the SEC tournament to Mississippi State, a team that lost to Dayton.

It is the first time in 59 years UK didn’t at least make the semifinals. Afterwards, always outspoken coach John Calipari said, “My teams, if they lose, act as if they are going to the electric chair. This one didn’t.” (Maybe they thought they were going to get an NCAA tournament pardon. They aren’t.)

In the Big East, No. 1 seed Villanova fell to No. 8 Georgetown, 73-72. The Hoyas were down 11 with 8 1/2 minutes left and finished on a 22-10 run.

Ohio State entered the Big Ten tournament on a string of four straight losses. The Buckeyes were 10-point favorites over Minnesota, missing two of its best players with injuries.

OSU jumped to a 13-0 lead and somebody mentioned that under coach Chris Holtmann the Buckeyes were 40-2 in Big Ten games that they led by 10 or more points at some juncture in the game.

And the Buckeyes were up 70-56 late in the game, only to watch Minnesota go on an 18-5 run that drew the Gophers to within one, 75-74 in the last minute.

OSU prevailed, 79-75. But here’s a question. Shouldn’t a team leading by 10 in a game be 43-and-0?

Ask Notre Dame about its ACC tournament loss. At one point, North Carolina went on a 42-4 run. That’s no run. That’s a world record 100-yard dash. And that is truly March Madness.

—Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott signed a four-year $160 million contract. Let’s see, if my math is on the mark, that means he will be paid $1.1 million for every quarter he plays over the next four years.

As Pete Rose used to say, “For that kind of money I would run through hell in a gasoline suit.”

—Where do I sign up for the Players Championship at the TPC Sawgrass course?

Rory McIlroy, the defending champion, posted a first-round 79. I once shot a 79. Once. . .on the inside Dales course at Community Golf Club in Dayton.

But I know I can do what Ben An did? He took an 11 on the par-three 17th hole. The green is an island and Ben An emptied a sleeve of golf balls into the water. . .four times.

—Out of business Dayton restaurants we all miss:Dominic’s, Grubsteak, Tropics, Suttmiller’s, Anticoli’s, Annarino’s, The Stockyards, King Cole, Neil’s Heritage House, Peerless Mill Inn, Barnsider, La Piazza.

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