By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave anxiously awaiting the call of, ‘Play ball,’ or do umpires still do that?
~The Dayton Dragons open their 2022 season Friday night in Day Air Ballpark and the Rob Manfred Influence will be on full display. The MLB commissioner continues to use minor league baseball as experimental laboratory rats.
There will be a clock for the pitchers. They must deliver a pitch within 14 seconds with nobody on base, 18 seconds with runners on base.
A pitcher will be allowed to throw over to first base three times on pickoff attempts. If he doesn’t pick off the runner on the third attempt, the runner automatically gets second base. Ah, yes, a ghost steal.
And the bases will be bigger, probably look like diving platforms.
The starting pitcher for the Dragons will be Connor Phillips. Who? He was the player to be named later from Seattle when the Cincinnati Reds traded Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez to the Mariners.
Phillips, 21, is a 6-2, 190-pound right hander out of Magnolia, Tex. The Mariners drafted him in the second round of the 2020 draft.
He was 7-3 last year at low-A Modesto and made one start at high-A Everett and was the loser.
~In baseball’s Analytics World, a player is said to have ‘barreled’ the ball when it leaves his bat at 98 or more miles per hour. (Why not a nice round figure of 100 miles an hour?)
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto’s mission this season is to lead baseball in ‘barrels.’ He certainly practiced it to perfection this week against Arizona.
An 88.7 miles an hour change-up thrown by Diamondbacks right handed pitcher Corbin Martin left Votto’s bat at 111.9 miles an hour. And it traveled 465 feet. It was seen threatening the guy standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona.
As he rounded the bases, they should have played ‘The Beer Barrel Polka’ on the public address system.
~The hottest bat this spring for the Reds was swung by infielder Max Schrock. . .and it was scorching. In 10 games he hit .619 (13 for 21) with a staggering .619/640/.857 slash line.
When Tony Perez was batting instructor for the Reds, his mantra was, “See the ball, hit the ball.” And that’s Schrock’s approach: “Don’t think. See ball, hit ball,” he said.
Alas, on Sunday, Schrock suffered a left calf strain leaving the batter’s box, an injury that benched him for a month last season.
Schrock joins Donovan Solano and Jose Barrero as infielders on the injured list. The Reds are down to Colin Moran and Brandon Drury as back-up infielders.
~QUOTE: From anonymous, but somebody obviously on the injured list: “When you get an injury and you have to sit on the bench and watch games, it kills you inside.” (But you still get paid.)
~The Seattle Mariners must wonder who those imposters are that the Cincinnati Reds sent them. It can’t be Jesse Winker. It can’t be Eugenio Suarez.
It was only spring training, as they say, but there has to be concern that Winker batted .069 (2 for 28) and Suarez batted .115 (3 for 26).
In addition, Billy Hamilton, who has bounced from team-to-team since the Reds traded him, hit .118 (3 for 16). . .but that one is no surprise — tremendous fielder, tepid hitter.
Wade Miley, let go by the Reds and picked up by the Chicago Cubs for nothing, has produced nothing so far for the Cubs. He has elbow inflammation issues and has not pitched.
~QUOTE: From former commissioner Fay Vincent: “Baseball teaches us how to deal with failure. We learn at a very young age that failure is the norm in baseball.”
~An outfit called ‘For The Win’ ranked all 30 MLB parks, using general atmosphere, design, location, amenities, food and character as its criteria. . . all, of course, extremely subjective.
Amazingly, my three favorite parks are in the Top Three —Petco Park (San Diego), Oracle Park (San Francisco) and PNC Park (Pittsburgh).
And I agree with the bottom two: RingCentral Coliseum (Oakland) and Tropicana Park (Tampa Bay).
Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park was 20th and For The Win’s comment was a generic, “GABP is just an OK place to watch baseball. There are worse stadiums, but there are definitely better parks.” Well. . .yeah.
Yankee Stadium was ranked a way-low 25th. which I guess is what $2.8 billion gets you.
~It is not hidden at all that the New York Mets and New York Yankees are not BFFs. In fact, they barely acknowledge that each other even exist. Before this week, the teams hadn’t traded with each other since 2004, when the Mets sent left handed pitcher Mike Stanton to the Yankees for left handed pitcher Felix Heredia.
After 18 years, the two teams traded relief pitchers again. The Mets sent right handed pitcher Miguel Castro to the Yankees for left handed pitcher Joely Rodriguez.
~Why the Transfer Portal disgusts me Part XXXVII: Some telling words from former Wright State guard Tanner Holden, who said Ohio State called him two minutes after his name was posted on the T.P., one of many schools that blew up his phone the rest of the day:
“It’s always hard to leave a school that you put so much effort into when the coaches have poured so much into you, but at the end of the day it’s business,” he said.
Yes, yes, yes. Somebody finally said it. B-U-S-I-N-E-S-S. College basketball players are guns for hire. Mercenaries. Have jump shot, will travel.
~Duke coach Mike Krzyzewswki’s exit after his Blue Devils lost to North Carolina in the Final Four semifinals tasted a bit like sour grape jelly.
He put the verbal hurt on one of his star players, Mark Williams, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Duke missed some free throws in the late-going of its 81-77 loss. Williams missed a pair.
“We’d like to hit our free throws,” said Coach K. “Mark not being able. . .he was never in the game.” Williams, averaging 11.2 points and 7.4 rebounds, made four of his five shots, scored eight points and snagged four rebounds.
Not in the game? I swear I saw his name in the box score.
~The Cincinnati Reds are recognizing the Bengals’ Super Bowl appearance by having quarterback Joe Burrow throw the ceremonial first pitch at the home opener April 12.
He will toss a baseball to Bengals’ coach Zac Taylor. They should have Burrow throw a football. Or they should have him pitch the entire game.
~When Nadine begins a sentence with, “When you get a chance. . .”, I know it is time to get out of my La-Z-Boy forthwith.