By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from the Man Cave, shivering in my La-Z-boy wondering where summer went after only one day.
—There are certain pitchers in my lifetime that are don’t-miss attractions, guys you want to watch deliver every pitch.
For me it was Bob Feller, Sandy Koufax, Juan Marichal, Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver, Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson.
Watching those guys perform was like watching Rembrandt paint, Hemingway write, Caruso sing and Baryshnikov dance.
Add to that list New York Mets pitching machine Jacob deGrom. He throws 100 miles an hour fastballs, 93 miles an hour change-ups and a slider that dives like a pelican when it spots a fish. His arm is as flexible as a fishing rod and he keeps reeling in hitters.
His earned run average is the equivalent of two thin quarters, 0.50.
Every time he pitches one thinks, “He can’t do it again,” and then he does.
And this quote from deGrom made me laugh out loud. “When you have your stuff it makes it easier to pitch.” His stuff should be outlawed in 27 states.
—Could the Cincinnati Reds use Shohei Ohtani, star pitcher and star position player? Of course, who couldn’t? Do the Reds have one? Maybe. And it’s not Michael Lorenzen.
It’s Hunter Greene, if the Reds would show some creativity. When Greene signed with the Reds he was as good, or better, at shortstop as he was on the pitching mound. But the Reds took shortstop away from him. Don’t they need a shortstop?
Greene made his Triple-A debut last week and it was plus/minus. He struck out the side in the first inning, but also gave up four home runs in the first. His fastball was clocked as high as 104 miles an hour.
Why not have him play shortstop when he isn’t pitching and, when he is ready for The Show, let him be Cincinnati’s Ohtani. If nothing else, it might fill some of those many empty seats in Great American Ball Park.
—QUOTE: Some players believe what Pete Rose once said about Baltimore third baseman Brooks Robinson after the 1970 World Series applies to Ohtani: “He belongs in a higher league.”
—These numbers were compiled by sports talk show host Lance McAlister and they are not for any faint-hearted Reds fans.
During spring training, pitcher Amir Garrett boldly proclaimed that the closer’s role was his. Big talk, small results.
These are Garrett’s career ninth-inning numbers for 18 appearances over 10 innings: 22 earned runs, 19.80 ERA, 10 home runs, nine walks, 13 strikeout, one hit batter, 33 of 62 hitters have reached base.
Based on those staggering numbers, when the ninth inning rolls around they should call the bullpen and tell Garrett, “Please go take a shower, right now.” His nickname as of now should be ‘Hanging Slider.”
—QUOTE: From poet Robert Frost, who tossed a mean changeup: “Poets are like baseball pitchers. Both have their moments. The intervals are the tough things.” (That isn’t poetry Amir Garrett is throwing up there this year.)
—Saying it from the heart from Jonathan India after his two-run home run put the Cincinnati Reds ahead of the San Diego Padres, 4-2, only to have the Padres score four in the bottom of the ninth to win it, 6-4: “Baseball? It doesn’t love you. It will come back and bite you. It did, but hey, there is nothing you can do. They won the game.” (There is something the Reds can do. Upgrade the bullpen and upgrade it fast.)
—The Arizona Diamondbacks lost a major league record 23 straight road games. Twenty-three! You would think a major league team would luck into at least one road win during that span.
—QUOTE: From former manager Gene Mauch, who lost 20 straight games (home and away) with the 1969 Montreal Expos: “Losing streaks are funny. If you lose at the beginning you got off to a bad start. If you lose in the middle of the season, you’re in a slump. If you lose at the end, you’re choking.” (We won’t bring up what Mauch did with the 1964 Philadelphia Phillies. OK, we will. The Phillies had a 6 1/2 game lead with 12 to play. . .and blew it.)
—The Parade of Non-Progress: The Reds have used 26 different pitchers this season. . .so far. That includes position player Alex Blandino. And there are more certain to come as manager David Bell tries to navigate his bullpen through an ocean full of icebergs.
—Speaking of pitchers, San Francisco’s Kevin Gausman is 8-1 with a 1.55 earned run average and Anthony DeSclafani is 8-2 with a 2.77 earned run average. Need I say more, Reds fans?
—The Houston Astros were working on a combined no-hitter this week against Baltimore. The Orioles had no hits with one out in the eighth inning.
Astros pitcher Brandon Bielak had the O’s Maikel Franco 0-and-2 and threw a breaking ball that split the strike zone. Strike three? No the umpire blew the call and ruled in a ball. Franco hit the next pitch for a home run. No-hitter gone.
Quiz time: So who was the home plate umpire? (A) Ray Charles? (B) Stevie Wonder (C) Ronnie Milsap (D) Andre Bocelli (E) Hal McCoy (F) Angel Hernandez.
The answer, of course, is alleged umpire Angel Hernandez. Charles, Wonder, Milsap, Bocelli and even McCoy would have got it right.
—One of my all-time favorite baseball names is former major leaguer Coco Crisp, a great name for a cereal.
Crisp now manages the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, a summer wood bat collegiate league league. What nobody knows is Coco’s real first name. It is Covelli.
There were a couple of other players named Coco that played in the majors. Bonus points if you know the real first name of former Montreal Expos infielder Coco Laboy. It is Jose.
And there was former Reds closer Coco Cordero. That one is easy. His real name was Francisco.
In Spanish, coco means coconut. So say hello to Coconut Crisp, Coconut Laboy and Coconut Cordero.