By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, pounding out some off-day notes awaiting a trip to the Oakwood Club for a strip steak and French onion soup. The Pepcid comes later.
—The first report on automated/robotic umpiring is out and it is a gasser. The box score is a laugh riot.
The automated umpiring system debuted this week at George Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, a low class A Southeast League (formerly known as the Florida State League).
It was the Dunedin Blue Jays against the Tampa Tarpons. Fans needed to pack a dinner and late-night snacks. The game droned on and on, nearly four hours worth.
There is a home plate umpire who delivers the call, but he has to wait for a signal through an earpiece as to whether the pitch was a ball or a strike. That causes a delay in itself.
There were 21 strikeouts, 21 walks, and it was estimated that Crew Chief Robbie Robot missed at least 25 calls.
The game? Tampa won, 11-7. The losers? The fans. They watched nine different pitchers, most of them perplexed by the balls and strikes calls.
Ah, progress. Just wait. Robbie Robot is coming to a major league park near you in the near future.
—QUOTE: From legendary umpire Bill Klem: “It ain’t nothin’ till I call it.” (The quote is now, “It ain’t nothin’ until I get buzzed by the robot.”)
—Willie Mays, the oldest living member of baseball’s Hall of Fame, turned 90 this week. And be sure to read journalist John Shea’s recently released book on Mays entitled ’24.’
Reggie Jackson is quoted by ESPN’s Tim Kirkjian as saying that watched Mays play was like watching Steph Curry, Michael Jordan, Simone Giles and Mikhail Baryshnikov.
He didn’t go far enough. To me, watching Mays was like watching Hemingway write, Renoir paint, Fred Astaire dance, Secretariat run, Jesse Owens sprint, Michael Phelps swim, Richard Petty drive, Arnold Palmer putt, Pele kick and Pete Sampras serve.
—QUOTE: From Willie May: “I think I was the best baseball player I ever saw.” (And who is going to dispute that. That’s not bragging, it’s a fact, Jack.)
—The New York Mets fired batting coach Chili Davis this week, even though the Mets had the 10th best team average in the majors at .238. Behind the scenes, they are saying he was fired because Francisco Lindor, the $341 million man, is searching for hits the way Vasco Da Gama searched for passage to the east.
The Mets made 15 of their first 16 errors this season on the road, so Scott Russell, author of The Spaceman Chronicles, wonders if they’ll fire their traveling secretary.
—If anybody needed proof that baseball can be heartless and business-driven, just check out the Los Angeles Angels.
The Angels released Albert Pujols this week, a first-ballot Hall of Famer and a class act. Pujols was on the final year of a 10-year contract.
Couldn’t the Angels permit him to finish the season and retire with dignity rather than embarrass a baseball icon?
—QUOTE: From Albert Pujols before the Angels slipped him the pink note: “This game is really crazy. Nobody can understand it, and there a lot of things that happen that you can’t control.” (And that one really hits home.)
—If they stopped the season on Thursday of this week, my National League Central predictions would be right on: St. Louis, Milwaukee, Chicago, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh. . .in that order.
Does Yogi Berra’s quote, “It gets late early out there,” apply here?
—Dave Parker’s fascinating book, ‘Cobra,’ tells everything you ever wanted to know about him, and more, in 449 pages. He left at least one thing out.
When he played for the Cincinnati Reds in 1985 he was walked intentionally 24 times, still a team record.
That’s piddling, though. Barry Bonds was walked intentionally 120 times in 2004. And for his career he was issued intentional free passes 645 times.
Both Bonds and Roger Maris were walked intentionally four times in one game.
—QUOTE: From Casey Stengel: “I was such a dangerous hitter I even got intentional walks in batting practice.”
—QUOTE: From Dave Parker: “September is pantyhose month. No nonsense.” (Sounds as if The Cobra considers panty hose as a cover-up.)
—Washington’s Kyle Finnegan pitched an immaculate inning this week. . .nine pitches, three strikeouts.
The last Cincinnati pitcher to do it was Kevin Gausman in 2019. Amazingly, Gausman, now pitching for the San Francisco Giants, did it for Baltimore in 2018.
The only other Reds pitchers to throw nine consecutive strikes for three straight strikeouts were Rob Dibble (1989) and Pedro Borbon (1979). Current Reds pitcher Wade Miley did it in 2012 while pitching for Arizona.
And Sandy Koufax says, “Big deal.” He did it three times.
QUOTE: From former Minnesota Twins star Joe Mauer: “I hate striking out, doesn’t matter what time of the game it is. I just don’t like striking out.” (Ol’ Joe loved his first seven years. He never struck out more than 64 times. He had to hate the last seven years when he never struck out fewer than 83 times and whiffed 112 times once.)
—Famous last words? When somebody mentioned to Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell that the Milwaukee Brewers had 17 players on the injured list at one time, Bell said, “Teams that stay healthy have an advantage and it could make the difference.”
Then Nick Castellanos came up with a stiff back, Nick Senzel encountered shoulder stiffness, Jonathan India missed a few games under concussion protocol after getting hit in the head and Joey Votto fractured his left thumb.
A word to the wise: “Ssshhhh.”
—It seems as if more and more TV commercials are using classic music and the old tunes do grab my attention.
Some I have noticed: Celine Dion’s All By Himself (Expedia), Pet Shop Boys’ Let’s Make Lots of Money (All-State), EMF’s You’re Unbelievable (Applebee’s), Sammy Davis Jr.’s The Candyman (iPhone 12), The Foundations Fill Me Up Buttercup (Geico) and Phil Collins’ Take Me Home (Scott’s).
And the Skyline Chili commercial song, It’s Skyline Time, is an adaptation from Twilight Time by The Platters.