By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, wondering about my National League Rookie of the Year ballot. I can vote for three, so should it be 1. Jonathan India, 2. Tyler Stephenson and 3. Vladmir Gutierrez, or should it be 1. Tyler Stephenson, 2. Jonathan India, 3. Vladimir Gutierrez, or 1. Vladimir Gutierrez, 2. Tyler Stephenson, 3. Jonathan India. Yep, a true ‘homer’ ballot, but when was the last time one team had three legitimate RofY candidates in the same season.
OK, Cubs fans, Patrick Wisdom is pretty good, but. . .
—QUOTE: From the movie ‘Rookie of the Year’: “You’re the best thing to happen to baseball since Cracker Jack.” (There is no ’s’ in Cracker Jack. It is not Cracker Jacks, no matter what my wife says. And one wonders if the Cincinnati
Reds found Jonathan India in a Cracker Jack box.)
—Las Vegas apparently knows nothing about baseball in Ohio, especially Little League.
When the Little League World Series began in South Williamsport, Pa., Hamilton Wet Side was the biggest underdog of the 16 teams to win it all. The money line was +5000. That means if you wager $100 on Hamilton West Side and it wins, you win $5,000.
Well, they made it to Sunday’s finals by beating South Dakota, 5-2, in Saturday’s semifinals.
The game ended on a play that would have made Nolan Arenado or Brooks Robinson proud.
South Dakota had the bases loaded with two outs in the last inning. A wicked ground ball was pulled over the third base bag. It took a high hop, but third baseman Maddox Jones made a diving backhanded stop, scrambled to his feet and raced to the bag for a game-ending force play.
As former San Diego broadcaster Jerry Coleman would say, “Hang a star on that one.”
—QUOTE: From former Baltimore Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson, who made more stops on the Cincinnati Reds in the 1970 World Series than a city transit bus: “It’s a pretty sure thing that the player’s bat is what speaks loudest when it’s contract time, but there are moments when the glove has the last word.” (And Hamilton West Side’s Maddox Jones had the last word against South Dakota.)
—Speaking of Las Vegas, the sports books will take bets on anything, including when Javier Baez’s wife tells him to take out the trash and what he tells her she can do with the trash.
There are odds on BetOnline on which big league manager will be next to be fired. The favorite is Luis Rojas of the New York Mets at 5-2, followed closely by Charlie Montoya of the Blue Jays at 7-2.
Others: Brandon Hyde, Orioles, 9-2; Jayce Tingler, Padres, 9-2; Tory Lovullo, Diamondbacks, 6-1; Joe Girardi, Phillies, 9-1; Rocco Baldelli, Twins, 9-1; Bud Black, Rockies, 10-1; Chris Woodward, Rangers, 10-1; Derek Skelton, Pirates, 16-1; Joe Maddon, Angels, 16-1.
My money is on Baltimore’s Dr. Jekyll, er, Mr. Brandon Hyde.
Notice a missing name? Yep, while a legion of Reds fans want David Bell fired, Las Vegas doesn’t believe he’ll be fired. Nor do I, nor do I believe he will be.
In fact, Bell is on a list as possible National League Manager of the Year, but San Francisco’s Gabe Kapler is odds-on.
—In these days of analytics, when striking out is not an embarrassment, one has to love what Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said: “The value of a ball put in play is much better than a strikeout.”
And in these days of pitchers believing six innings is a complete work day, 20-game winners are as rare as a bad meal at The Oakwood Club. It just doesn’t happen.
So here are a couple of quotes concerning 20-win pitchers.
From former Dodger/Orioles/Giants pitcher Billy Loes, who once said he lost a ground ball in the sun during a World Series game: “I have no intention or desire to win 20 games because they keep expecting it of you.”
From portly Detroit pitcher Mickey Lolich, whose belt always lost the battle of the bulge: “I’m the redemption of the fat man. A guy watching me on TV sees that I don’t look in any better shape than he is and says, ‘Hey, Maude, get a load of this guy. And he’s a 20-game winner.’”
—What is wrong with the Baltimore Orioles? Can’t they do anything right? With a chance to set a major league record, they ended their 19-game losing streak by beating the Los Angeles Angels.
They were only four losses shy of tying the all-time record, 23 by the 1961 Philadelphia Phillies. Heck, the Orioles didn’t even catch their own record — 21 straight losses to start the 1988 season.
How about the Reds? Their longest losing streak is 13, done in 2015.
How about winning streaks? The longest is 26 straight wins by John McGraw’s 1916 New York Giants. The Reds longest winning streak is 12, done twice (1939, 1957).
—QUOTE: From legendary manager John McGraw, talking to a rookie who started fast in his career: “My boy, one small breeze doesn’t make a wind storm.” (That reminds of what San Diego infielder Derrel Thomas once said: “No matter which way the wind blows, I’m cool.”)
—Traffic in Gatlinburg, Tenn. is about the same as it is in New York City. I believe it is because every cab driver in Manhattan takes a vacation in Gatlinburg.
While there, be sure to take the Skylyft to the top of the mountain. Then take a walk across the wooden swinging bridge. Halfway across the floor becomes glass for a few yards and my advice comes from an Usher song: ‘Don’t Look Down.’
Gatlinburg restaurants that get the McCoy Five-Star rating: The Peddler (steakhouse), The Greenbrier (eclectic), No Way Jose (Mexican) and The Pancake Pantry (breakfast or lunch).
And especially don’t look down from the swinging bridge after pancakes.