OBSERVATIONS: Baseballs just leave everybody in stitches

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, wondering if the Cincinnati Reds should spend their off day in Pittsburgh Monday burning their bats. They aren’t working. Time to order a new batch because time is fast slipping away.

—And speaking of equipment, who doesn’t love to hold a baseball in their hands? I sometimes hold one while covering a game. I hold it split-finger style, like Wade Miley. But I try not to split infinitives, whatever they are.

Although MLB baseballs cost about $25 apiece, they are a dime a dozen. The Rawlings plant in Costa Rica sends MLB about 1.8 million balls a year, all hand-made, all hand-stitched for MLB use.

About six dozen are prepared for each MLB game, but sometimes more than 100 are used. The average baseball’s game life is two plays. If a ball is scuffed, smudged or dirtied, it is thrown out, never to be used again in a game. Some are used for batting practice, some are shipped to minor league affiliates.

A lot of balls are used for one pitch, balls fouled into the stands or hit for home runs.

In my 48 years working in press boxes, I have encountered a few foul balls. When Jim Edmonds played for the Reds, he fouled one right at me. I had my head down, peering at my computer screen. The ball parted my hair and crashed into a wall behind me, leaving a baseball-sized hole.

During the 1996 World Series in Yankee Stadium, Derek Jeter fouled one into the box. I actually caught it and kept it. Wish I’d had Jeter sign it.

—Some words I’m glad I never wrote.

In 1918, Babe Ruth was a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. In the ’18 World Series against the Chicago Cubs, he pitched in three of the seven games and posted a 1.06 earned run average.

He batted only five times and had one hit, a triple. After the Series, a Boston Globe reporter wrote, “As a hitter, Babe Ruth is about as useful as a broken umbrella in a rainstorm.” (I wonder what weekly Podunk paper hired that guy a few years later?)

—In a high Class A game last week, the Hudson Valley Renegades took a 9-4 lead into the top of the ninth against the Greensboro Grasshoppers.

The Renegades decided they needed some add-on runs, so they scored 14 runs in the ninth that included two grand slams, insuring them of a 23-4 win.

—QUOTE: From former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda after San Diego’s Dirty Kurt Bevacqua had a big day against LA: “That guy couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a bleeping boat.” (That’s because his boat was parked in his driveway, Tommy.)

—The multi-talented Los Angeles Dodgers are not only money-rich, they are pitch-rich, right? The best arms that money can buy.

Then why have the Dodgers used 32 different pitchers this season? It’s the same number the bullpen-poor Cincinnati Red have used, although four of those ‘pitchers’ have been position players in blowout games.

Both the Dodgers and Reds have a long way to go to set a major league record. The 2019 Seattle Mariners sent 42 different pitchers to the mound. The ’19 Mariners also set a record by using 67 different players in at least one game.

—QUOTE: From Hall of Fame catcher/manager Yogi Berra: “All pitchers are liars or crybabies.” (I’d wager he never said that to Bob Gibson’s face.)

—Stuff that will never again happen in baseball: In 1932, Joe Sewell of the New York Yankees made 576 plate appearances and struck out three times. . .three times all season. In today’s game, in nearly every game some player has struck out three times by the sixth inning.

Uh, put Joey Votto in that category. He whiffed three times Sunday against the Cardinals.

In 1904, pitcher Bill Dinneen of the Boston Americans started 37 games. . .and completed all 37. In today’s game, if a pitcher completes three games all season he is under consideration for the Cy Young. After his pitching career ended, Dinneen became a major league umpire, one who certainly knew the difference between a ball and a strike.

—QUOTE: From many times New York Yankees manager Billy Martin: “I was watching a quiz show and the question was, ‘Name a baseball team synonymous with winning.’ One girl said, ‘Dodgers.’ The other girl said, ‘Giants.’ That made me madder’n hell. I kept saying, ‘Yankees, you dummies.’ And of course the answer was, ‘Yankees.’”

—Wonder how much the Reds would pay me not to write about their games. Seems as if every time I take a day off they win.

After an excellent heaping pile of baked rigatoni at Maggione’s Friday night, Nadine and I and four great friends (Murray, Jeff, Tammy, Nancy) attended the fantastic Billy Joel concert at Great American Ball Park.

Meanwhile the Reds beat the Cardinals, 4-2, in St. Louis. There were 36,240 at GAPB for ‘The Piano Man,’ which makes me wonder why the contending (for a wild card) Reds can’t draw more than 20,000 unless they give away bobbleheads?

With 11 home games remaining, the Reds are averaging 18,309.

—Talk about being snakebit, Cleveland Indians pitcher Zach Plesac must feel as if he has been bitten three times by a king cobra.

Plesac is 10-5 and three of those losses came when pitchers threw no-hitters at the Tribe when he was the starting pitcher.

First it was Carlos Rodon of the Chicago White Sox, then it was Wade Miley of the Reds and then it was Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes and Josh Hader combining for a no-hitter.

QUOTE: From Bo Belinsky, who threw a no-hitter in 1962: “If I’d known I was gonna pitch a no-hitter, I would have gotten a haircut.” (But he did give some hitters a close shave that day.)

—LA’s Max Scherzer recorded his 3,000th strikeout over the weekend. Guess whom he has struck out the most during his career? That would be Adam Dunn with 24. And it came in only 50 at bats.

Current Reds infielder Asdrubal Cabrera isn’t far behind. Scherzer has whiffed Cabrera 21 times in 72 at bats.

Cabrera, by the way, is 0 for 16 with five strikeouts since the Reds signed him.

—QUOTE: From Dodgers pitcher Max Scherzer: “Pitching is both an art and a science.” (And there is nobody better at painting the corners.)

—Ah, baseball in the good ol’ days. One of baseball’s all-time great names was pitcher Van Lingle Mungo, who had a song written about him by Dave Fishberg.

How good was he? Welllll…in a 1932 game, pitching for the Brooklyn Dodgers, he walked 11 Chicago Cubs in eight innings.

In that same game, Cubs pitcher Pat Malone gave up a grand slam home run in the first inning, then proceeded to throw at least one pitch at every batter’s head he faced after the grand slam.

Yep, eventually there was a brawl.

—The MLB Network is using a song called, ‘Don’t Go Dark,’ by The Bleachers during some of its replays. Love it.

One thought on “OBSERVATIONS: Baseballs just leave everybody in stitches”

  1. Hal
    I too was at the ballpark Friday night to see the Piano Man, for my money, the best entertainer my generation ever produced!! You and Billy have a lot in common, both have done it a long time, and nobody does it better!! Have a great day

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