By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, slaying time before the 10:10 p.m. start of the Reds-Dodgers game by reading Dave Parker’s autobiography, Cobra. It is worth the read and Parker pulls no punches.
—It was a balmy spring morning in Tempe, Ariz. in 2015 and the Cincinnati Reds were in Diablo Stadium preparing for an exhibition game against the Los Angeles Angels.
I was in the clubhouse, standing in front of Jay Bruce’s dressing cubicle, asking him questions for a story, when Jesse Winker sat down nearby.
Bruce looked his way and said to me, “There’s a guy you should do a story on. He is a future star, a guy that will be better than me.”
At the time, Winker was still in the minors but Bruce took a liking to him, took him under his talented left arm left arm, took him to dinner, instructed him on the do’s and don’ts on a major league baseball team.
What Bruce said is coming true. Winker has become an offensive gale force. After hitting a game-winning home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers Monday night, he was on an 11-game hitting streak during which he hit .367 with seven extra base hits and 10 RBI.
Bruce was gone from the Reds shortly after Winker made it to the bigs, but the two remain close friends. Winker visits Bruce’s home in Beaumont, Tex. and they tote shoguns together on hunting trips.
“He has helped me so much on and off the field,” Winker said last week when Bruce retired from the New York Yankees. “If I didn’t have two older brothers I’d say he is like a brother to me. I give that title to those guys, but he’s my brother I met in baseball.
“I’m very thankful for him and thankful for his family,” he added. “I got to meet a lot of great people in Beaumont because of him. I look forward to going duck hunting with him in the off-season.”
—QUOTE: From Jay Bruce. . .and this is what he has passed on to Jesse Winker: “As far as baseball goes, I love baseball. I love it. Anyone who knows me knows that I am such a big fan of baseball. I always have been. I go home at night and I watch baseball. And some people think that’s crazy. Some people think it’s awesome. Who knows?”
—When one talks about sports dynasties, they start with John Wooden’s UCLA basketball team, or maybe Red Auerbach’s Boston Celtics NBA team and perhaps Casey Stengel’s New York Yankees.
Well, they are all blips on the calendar when it comes to the Kent State University women’s golf team. The Mid-American Conference has staged 22 women’s golf tournaments and the Golden Flashes have won all 22. No seconds, no thirds, all firsts.
And this year they won the tournament at Silver Lake Country Club, near Kent, by 36 strokes.
—From Hall of Fame golfer Nancy Lopez: “My swing is no uglier than Arnold Palmer’s and it’s the same ugly swing every time.” (But those championship checks Palmer and Lopez won were as pretty as any swing you ever saw.)
—More on San Diego pitcher Ryan Weathers, the 21-year-old son to former Reds pitcher David Weathers. . .and this one is a doozy.
During his senior year at Lorretto (Tenn.) High School, Weathers’ earned run average was 0.09. He gave up one run in 76 innings. He struck out 148 with only 10 walks. And he gave up 24 hits.
—QUOTE: From Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige: “Just take the ball and throw it where you want to. Throw strikes. Home plate don’t move.” (If only it were that easy, the Cincinnati Reds bullpen wouldn’t walk 17 in three games. Obviously, home plate was moving in 17 different directions.)
—In 2017, three sons of major league players were stars in the Class A Midwest League — Fernando Tatis Jr., Vlad Guerrero Jr, and Bo Bichette. All three are now stars in the big leagues.
But in 2017, the Dayton Dragons had a player better than all three…outfielder Jose Siri. He hit .293 with 24 home runs, 75 RBI and 46 stolen bases. Dragons fans remember him as a guy who spliced together a 39-game hitting streak.
In the words of Tom Nichols, the Dragons outstanding media relations director and radio-TV play-by-play guy, “Siri was the best player in the league.
But while Tatis is ripping it for San Diego and Guerrero and Bichette are big deals in Toronto, Siri has never played a game in the majors. He made it as far as Triple-A Louisville with the Reds, but Seattle claimed off waivers. Then San Francisco claimed him off waivers and Houston signed him as a free agent.
And Siri, now 24, still awaits that first at bat in The Show. He was the last outfielder cut this spring by the Astros.
—FUN FACTS: We all know that Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak in 1941 in the MLB record. Did you know that DiMaggio had a 61-game hitting streak in 1933 while playing for the San Francisco Seal in the Pacific Coast League?
And even that isn’t the all-time professional record. A guy named Joe Wilhoit, playing for the Wichita Jobbers in the Western League had a 69-game hitting streak in 1919, the year the Chicago Black Sox threw the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds.
—It is a big crazy that three-fifths of the San Francisco Giants rotation are former Reds pitchers. Johnny Cueto, Anthony DeSclafani and Kevin Gausman are a combined 5-0.
Cueto is 2-0 with a 1.80 earned run average. The Reds gave Homer Bailey and long-term deal and traded Cueto. DeSclafani (2-0, 1.50) and Gausman (1-0, 2.14) were free agents and easily could have been re-signed by the Reds for bargain prices.
—The Brothers Seager had a couple of things in common Monday night. Both Corey of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Kyle of the Seattle Mariners hit home runs. And both of their teams lost.
What’s a brother to do?
—Chris Lein, one of my all-time favorite scouts with an outstanding sense of humor, is starting a college wood bat league in Jacksonville, Fla., the Coastal College Baseball League.
The plan is for six team with 22-man rosters and the league will play 44 games (never on Sunday) from May 29 through July 27.
Lein contacted more 1,4000 colleges and junior colleges to make them aware of his upstart league and has lured players from all over the country, including Ohio and Kentucky. Lein is founder/president/general manager/recruiter/scheduled-maker/sponsor-seeker/groundskeeper.
Interested? Have glove, will travel? Check it out at ccbbljax.com. And if you wonder about Lein’s credentials, before he became a scout, he pitched in the minors after going 15-1 at Florida International University in 1979. He had a 2.25 ERA in 136 innings and threw 11 complete games, seven in a row with six shutouts.
—If you want to watch an NBA game at a watering hole, don’t walk through the doors of Linnie’s Pub in Cincinnati’s Delhi district.
Owner J.P. Linneman said he won’t put NBA games on his bar’s TVs until LeBron James is expelled for his Twitter post on a Columbus police office.
And if you come to The Man Cave, don’t expect any NBA games on the TV. And it has nothing to do with LBJ. I just don’t like the NBA game, unless Obie Toppin is on the floor.
—Did anybody watch the Oscars? Me neither. If it was between the Oscars and Dr. Pimple Popper I’d just turn off the idiot box.