By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, wondering if I’m watching a video game or is that Kyle Schwarber hitting another home run. Wonder what he would do if this year’s baseballs were not de-juiced. Yeah, sure they are.
—Can we call Nick Castellanos ‘Nick the Stick?’ We certainly can. As somebody once said about Kevin Mitchell, “He can roll out of bed and hit in his pajamas.”
Come to think of it, Mitchell always wore a white outfit that resembles pajamas.
What you have to love about Castellanos is his self-deprecating manner, his personal opinion that he hasn’t done enough for the Cincinnati Reds
To him, the fact he was the first hitter to reach 100 hits this season, the fact he leads the league with 27 doubles, the fact that his slash line is .342/.393/.596 is not that pertinent. To him, it is all about timing.
After he drove in seven runs, four on a grand slam, against the Phillies this week, he said. “Being a third batter, that’s what I am supposed to do in those situations, to drove those guys in and give us a chance to win. Earlier in the year, I had my stretches where I would be getting hits and doubles and stuff, but at pivotal points in the game I wasn’t coming through.”
Say what? Were we talking to Nick Castellanos or Eugenio Suarez? It was N.C. and his harshness upon himself is refreshing, although not accurate.
Castellanos said he picked the Reds to be his team for a special reason. “I chose to come to Cincinnati in 2020 because, moreso than anything, was the starting pitching, the rotation, the power arms we could roll in day in and day out. When I was in Detroit, I knew how important racking up strikeouts is to push yourself deep into the season and deep into the post-season. I picked the place where I thought I had the most opportunity to win.”
As a precautionary measure, Castellanos had a two-year opt-out clause inserted into his contract, meaning he could leave after 2020 or 2021.
He didn’t exercise it after last season. This is a guy the Reds desperately need to keep and isn’t it time to step up and extend his contract before the Yankees or Dodgers swoop in and scoop him up?
—Baseball commissar Rob Manfred is all about speeding up games, but he is ‘experimenting’ with robot umpires with strike zones tighter than a lid on a pickle jar.
How about this one in a low class A game between Dunedin and Port St. Lucie? The robo ump issued 24 walks. The game lasted four hours and 45 minutes.
Never thought I’d say this, but I’d rather have MLB umpire Angel Hernandez working home plate than Robby the Robot.
—QUOTE: From legendary umpire Bill Klem after a close play at home when he was asked how he could call a runner out: “Gentlemen, he is out because I said he is out.” (With replay these days, Klem would not have the final word.)
—Don Newcombe won 153 games and lost 93 over his 12-year stay with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was a fearsome pitcher during the regular season.
But he never won a post-season game. He made five World Series starts and was 0-and-4 with an 8.50 earned run average. All the games were against the New York Yankees.
Newcombe could handle everybody but Jack Daniels. He became an alcoholic and in 1965 he sold his 1955 World Series ring to buy booze.
But he turned it around. He worked post-career for the Los Angeles Dodgers, preaching the evils of John Barleycorn and Jack Daniels to the team’s major and minor-league players.
—Singer Sonny James asked the question first: “What In The World’s Come Over Us?” I’ll asked it again when it comes to Tampa Bay rookie Wander Franco.
He has played less than two weeks in the majors. A special baseball card was put out and a bidder paid $200,000 for it.
Say what? OK, the kid hit a three-run game-tying home run in his first game with the Rays. And while playing Class A ball for the Bowling Green Hot Rods he once went two weeks without once swinging and missing a pitch.
Is that worth $200,000 to somebody? Apparently, yes. And that’s $100,000 less than the $300,000 Rolls Royce the kid drove to Tropicana Park for his first major league game.
—The most talked about pitching matchup ever is the 1963 game — San Francisco’s Juan Marichal vs. Milwaukee’s Warren Spahn. It went 16 innings and both pitcher went the distance.
The Giants won, 2-1, but the most amazing thing to me is that Spahn threw 201 pitches in those 16 innings and struck out only two batters.
Anyway there is another amazing game pitched, this one in 1965 between the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies. It went 18 innings before it was stopped at 0-0. The starting pitchers each went 15 innings,. Chris Short of the Phillies struck out 18 and Rob Gardner only struck out seven. And for their arduous work, both got a big, fat no-decision.
Obviously, though, Short could go long.
Not so these days. In a game this week between the Reds and Padres, both teams used eight pitchers in a nine-inning game. Only one, Reds starter Tony Santillian, went three innings. Two went two innings, including San Diego’s Craig Stammen, the University of Dayton product from Versailles. None of the other 11 pitchers went more than an inning.
—With all the baseball injuries these days, one wonders how many whirlpool tubs are in the clubhouse trainer’s rooms. Back in the day, injured players spent a lot of time in those tubs.
Former Atlanta Braves outfielder Ralph ‘The Roadrunner’ Garr once said about his avoidance of the whirlpool, “You can’t help the club in the tub.”
Former Reds outfielder Ken Henderson once spent so much time in the whirlpool bath that Pete Rose called the tub the S.S. Henderson.
—Ever wonder why the NHL’s Columbus franchise is called the Blue Jackets? No? Well, I’m going to tell you anyway.
During the Civil War, most of the blue jackets worn by the Union Army were manufactured in Columbus. You’re welcome.
—Speaking of nicknames, just 80 games into the season the Arizona Diamondbacks were 29 games out of first place in the National League West. There is a movement afoot to rename them the Arizona Garter Snakes.
—Any Reds fan who sees my backyard, well, please forgive Nadine. She purchased a bird feeder, placed it in our yard, and filled it with cardinal bird seed. I told her, “Reds fans never, ever feed Cardinals.” Blue Jays and Orioles are OK, but Cardinals? NO.
—Color-coded professional sports franchises with colors in their names: Cincinnati Reds. Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, Columbus Blue Jackets, St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Cleveland Browns, Las Vegas Golden Knights.
For those who are color blind, never mind.