OBSERVATIONS: Was Joe West putting a ‘cap’ on his career?

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave while sitting through one of those infernal rain delays, this one a Cincinnati Reds-Washington Nationals game. Every baseball park should have a roof.

—Umpire Joe West has done many things during his 48-year career, but earlier this week he scored the hat trick.

When St. Louis pitcher Giovanny Gallegos reported for duty out of the bullpen, West spotted a ‘foreign substance’ on his hat. West made Gallegos hand over the hat for a free trip to New York and forensic examination. Gallegos had to don a new cap.

You might say West was putting a cap on his career, but he has opened an economy-sized can of worms. So many pitchers wear dirty hats, so are umpires going to start examining every pitcher’s hat. West and the other umpires can’t just single out Gallegos now, can they? Remember St. Louis pitcher Steve Kline? He wore a hat so dirty it looked as if he had changed the oil in every cab in St. Louis and used it to clean the dipsticks. And no umpire ever made his change it.

And how about Milwaukee closer Josh Hader, he of the long Repunzel-like blond hair flowing down his back? He appears to rub the back of his locks before every pitch.

Is Joe West going to make him cut his hair and send it off to New York?

—QUOTE: From Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry, the king of foreign substances: “I’d always have grease in at least two places, in case the umpires would ask me to wipe one off.” (Maybe Giovanny Gallegos should have won two hats.)

—There is a rumor afloat that a new baseball Hall of Fame might be conceived to celebrate modern baseball’s TTO, the ultra-boring three true outcomes of strikeout, walk or home run.

The first inductee class will include Dave Kingman, Rob Deer, Steve ‘Bye-Bye’ Balboni and Adam Dunn. And Cincinnati’s Eugenio Suarez is making a bid for future enshrinement.

—Cool Papa Bell was one of the best, if not the best, all-around players in the Negro Leagues and would have been a superstar in the majors, if blacks were permitted during his prime.

When Branch Rickey broke the color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson, Cool Papa was in his early 40s.

Nevertheless, after Rickey signed Robinson, then added Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe from the Negro League, he offered Cool Papa a contract in the late 1940s.

Bell had the perfect answer while declining the offer: “Why didn’t you make me an offer two decades ago.”

—QUOTE: From Negro League Hall of Famer Cool Papa Bell: “I remember one game I got five hits and stole five bases, but it wasn’t written down because they forgot to bring the scorebook to the game.” (That happened alot and it’s why Negro League stats and records are so sketchy.)

—They call it the best college baseball game ever played — 40 years ago on May 21, 1981. It was St. John’s 1, Yale 0, in 12 innings.

Both pitchers, soon-to-be major leaguers, went the distance, Ron Darling for Yale and Frank Viola for St. John’s

Darling had a no-hitter for 11 innings. He gave up a hit in the 12th and the only run scored from third during a rundown play between first and second.

And here is the incredible part. Darling gave up one run, one hit, walked five and struck out 16. . .throwing 190 pitches. Viola, the winning pitcher, gave up no ruins, seven hits. walked four and struck out eight. . .throwing 160-plus pitches.

And the next day Darling was playing right field for the Yalies. When Viola saw that, he said, “How can he play today? I can’t even scratch my ass.”

Darling pitched 28 games that year for Yale, 28 complete games. He laughed about that and said, “Yeah, but a lot of the hitters I faced were pre-med students.”

Darling and Viola eventually pitched together for the New York Mets.

—If you wonder what happened to Homer Bailey, the former Reds pitcher with two no-hitters, well, he isn’t done yet.

The Minnesota Twins released him late last season and nobody signed him. So Bailey is one of three former Reds on Team USA, trying to qualify for the summer Olympics.

Also on the roster is outfielder Matt Kemp and infield Todd Frazier, who was released this season by the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates.

After waiting 3 hours and 45 minutes during a rainstorm, they suspended the game on Wednesday with Washington leading the Reds, 3-0, in the bottom of the fourth.

They decided to resume the game at 2:05 Wednesday and it would play out through nine innings. Then they would play the regularly scheduled game at its original 7:05 starting time.

But here’s the twist. The second game would be one of those seven-inning softball games.

Now I ask, why couldn’t the second game, with its original starting time, be a full-scale nine-inning baseball game? Will the boys be too tired? Do they fear they might run out of baseballs?

Just another silly concoction by the intrepid commissioner. And, yes, I’ll take some cheese with my whine.

—One of the worst things about watching Reds games on TV these days is being assaulted about a dozen times a game by King Midas. For gosh sakes, folks, the people have been told. And told and told and told.

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