By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, trying to watch an exhibition baseball game on the TV with two dogs in my lap because I’m snacking on Dorothy Lane chocolate chip cookies. . .and a bite of my chocolate chip cookies is something neither Paige nor Quinn will successfully beg from me. And my nose just grew three inches.
—So they are doing it again. . .this time under cover of darkness. They are going to move second base. Really? Really. No, this is not an April Fool’s joke. It is a joke, but it is for real.
It was discovered accidentally by Hall of Fame writer Jayson Stark of The Athletic when a minor league instructor whispered to Stark, “Psst, not sure if you’ve heard, but they’re moving second base.”
The plan, as chronicled by Stark, is for all minor league teams to move second base inward toward home plate so that it will be 13 1/2 inches closer to first base and third base for the second half of the season.
Here’s the kicker. The distance between first to second and second to third was never 90 feet, as it is from home to first and third to home. It is 88 feet, 1 1/2 inches from first to second and second to third. By moving second base in, it will now be 87 feet. And don’t forget, they are increasing the bag size from 15 square inches to 18 square inches for the entire minor league season.
When they move second base inward, the distance between first to second and second and third will reduce the distance by 13 1/2 inches. . .more than a foot.
Why? To encourage more daring baserunning, make it easier to steal second base and easier to sprint from first-to-third on base hits.
As Stark said, “If it works, look for it to come to as major league park near you.”
Under the cover of darkness, of course.
—Yes, one of many things missing from today’s MLB game is the running of the bases, hence MLB’s ‘experiment’ of moving second base.
Jackie Robinson, though, didn’t need it. How exciting it must have been to watch Robinson dancing up and down far off the base, disrupting the pitcher’s concentration and making catchers break out in perspiration rivulets.
Robinson stole home 19 times (and was caught trying it 12 times). The most famous involved three Hall of Famers in Game 1 of the 1955 World Series against the New York Yankees.
Pitcher Whitey Ford went into a full wind-up and Robinson bolted for home, sliding into the glove of catcher Yogi Berra. Umpire Bill Summers called him safe and Berra went into ballistics, jumping up and down in protest.
Robinson also scored from second base on sacrifice flies a few times. Somebody figured out that Robinson took extra bases on different plays 385 times. Once he took second base on a walk.
It was Run, Robby, Run. . .and nobody does it any more.
—QUOTE: From Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson: “Above anything else, I hate to lose. It kills me to lose. If I’m a troublemaker, then it’s because I can’t stand losing. That’s the way I am about winning. All I ever wanted to do was finish first.”
—So the Reds say they are trying to win? So why do they bring in veterans like Albert Almora Jr. and Jake Bauers, watch them do well and send them to the minors? Why do they watch top prospect T.J. Friedl do well in spring training and send him to the minors? It’s not about winning, it’s about the business side of the game. . .options and money investe3d in failures like Shogo Akiyama ($8 million flop).
And what to do, what to do with outfielder Aristides Aquino.
In August of 2019, Aquino resembled the second coming of Willie Mays. In 29 games his slash line was .320/.391/.767 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI. Some of his home runs interrupted the flight pattern into Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
Since then? More like Willy Miranda, lifetime batting average of .221. In Aquino’s 340 plate appearances since August, 2019: .189/.281/.387.
Aquino is out of options, so if the Reds don’t keep him, they must put him on waivers and any team can claim him without giving the Reds anything in return.
—Remember the song, ‘I Want to Drive the Zamboni,’ by The Zambonis? They play it at hockey arenas coast-to-coast.
Al Sobotka did just that for 51 years for the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. . .until they unceremoniously fired him this week.
Sobotka, 68, fired a law suit against the Red Wings and said through an attorney, I loved my 51 years with the Detroit Red Wings, and would have been happy to stay 51 more.”
Sobotka gained attention in the 1990’s when fans threw octopus on the ice before games. After the National Anthem, Sobotka came out, picked up an octopus and twirled it over his head. . .as the crowd goes wild.
Well, you have to be there.
At a time when businesses are closing because they can’t get help, here’s a loyal employee who loves his job and they toss him into the Detroit River.
—It’s not the transfer portal. It’s the transfer cesspool.
I’ve railed against the transfer portal before, but now I’m enraged.
It looked as if Wright State University would have an outstanding team next season. As if?
As if you would know it, the Raiders’ two best players disappeared into the transfer portal — Grant Basile and Tanner Holden. There are rumors that Holden might land at Ohio State.
Meanwhile, Wright State coach Scott Nagy is left holding a bag of basketballs. It wouldn’t be surprising if Trey Calvin and Tim Finke left, too.
What has happened is that mid-major basketball programs are college basketball’s version of the minor leagues — mid-majors feeding their best players to the blue bloods.
More than 1,700 Division I college basketball players entered the portal before last season and one-fourth of all Division I rosters this season played at a different school the previous season, according to VerbalCommits.com.
Just think, 1,700 players. That’s enough fill up 113 rosters with all transfer players.
Prediction: There will soon be a school with its complete roster plucked out of the transfer cesspool.
—Baseball’s current anthem: “Take me out to the ball game, take me out to the crowd (Opening Day is not sold out), buy me some peanuts ($5) and Cracker Jack ($5), I don’t care if I never get back (you might not, depending upon where you park for $20), for it’s root, root, root for the home team (If you recognize them) and if they don’t win (they won’t) it’s a shame, for it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out (that’s the name of the game right now) at the ol’ ball game.”
—From fellow journalist Chuck Murr: “Chris Rock says hosting the Oscars was a slap in the face.” Anybody out there think this was a ‘staged’ attention-grabbing event?