OBSERVATIONS: Time to ‘tear up’ baseball’s unwritten rules

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, preparing for several short nights of sleep after watching the Cincinnati Reds play on the west coast.

~Isn’t it time to burn baseball’s ‘unwritten rules,’ except how do you burn something that isn’t written. And how can they be ‘rules’ if they’re not written?

It is accepted policy that a team does not steal bases or drop bunts when it has a huge lead. Unwritten rules. That is so much crapola.

One team is throwing the unwritten rules down the crapper. . .well, it would if he had those rules written down somewhere.

The San Francisco Giants are going to run and bunt and swing away this year even if they are ahead, 20-0, in the second inning.

They proved it this week when Steven Duggar stole second base in the second inning with a 10-1 lead. Then Mauricio Dubon dropped a base-hit bunt against the shift in the sixth inning with an 11-2 lead. And the Giants hit two home runs late in the game against Padres position pitcher Will Myers.

That’s the way the game should be played. Try to score until the last out. Isn’t the opposing pitcher still trying to strike out hitters, no matter the score? Sure he is.

Here’s a novel thought: Pitch good enough and hit good enough so you don’t get behind by 10 runs. It is not the other team’s fault and it is no reason for them to turn off the ignition switch.

And doesn’t the other team try to score to catch up? It sure does. There is no clock to run out as there is in football, basketball, hockey and soccer. A losing team can keep scoring and scoring and scoring until it exhausts its final out.

Giants manager Gabe Kapler said it was a decision made in spring training. . .all out, all the time. It is designed not to embarrass anybody, but a ploy to make the other team go deep into its bullpen, wear it out, so the Giants can win the next two games, too, and win the series, not just one game.

“It’s the best way to win a series,” said Kapler. “We just want to score as many runs as possible, force the other pitcher to throw as many pitches as possible. Our goal is not exclusively to win one game in a series. It is to try to win the entire series. Sometimes that means trying to get a little deeper into the opposition’s bullpen.”

Go Giants, go.

~Former Cincinnati Reds general manager Murray Cook was the man who traded Dave Parker to Oakland for two pitchers, Jose Rijo and Tim Birtsas.

“An Oakland writer told me, ‘You got two good arms in the trade. Both are on Jose Rijo,’” said Cook.

Birtsas was scheduled to pitch against Cleveland in an Ohio Cup game and when asked about it, he said, “What’s the Ohio Cup, a boat race?”

~San Diego pitcher Sean Manaea had a no-hitter through seven innings and was taken out. Why? The infernal pitch count.

LA Dodges pitcher Clayton Kershaw had a perfect game through seven innings and was taken out. Why? The infernal pitch count. Kershaw was at 80 pitches and had struck out 13.

Say one thing about Dodges manager Dave Roberts, good or bad. He is consistent, even if he has no sense of history. He pulled Ross Stripling in his major league debut when he was throwing a no-hitter and in 2016 he yanked Rich Hill after seven innings of a no-hitter.

If Bob Gibson had a perfect game through seven innings and they tried to take him out there would a headless manager and a headless pitching coach.

Tom Seaver and Warren Spahn are trying to dig their way out of the ground.

~QUOTE: From Hall of Fame pitcher Ferguson Jenkins, who never pitched a no-hitter: “Not even if I had a broken arm and I had to roll the ball across home plate would I leave a perfect game.” (In the 1967 All-Star game, Jenkins struck out Harmon Killebrew, Tony Conigliaro, Mickey Mantle, Jim Fregosi, Rod Carew and Tony Oliva.)

Said Randy Hundley, Jenkins’ catcher for the Chicago Cubs, “Fergie was a dominant pitcher and had such great control I could have caught him with a pair of pliers.” (And ended up with a broken thumb and three crooked fingers.)

~Speaking of digging their way out, when Richie Hebner played for the Pirates his father was a mortician. And Hebner worked for him in the off-season.

One day he told me by the batting cage, “It was a tough winter. The ground was so hard, frozen solid, that we buried some people so shallow they might claw their way out.”

~When Reggie Jackson played in Baltimore, he said, “If I played in New York they’d name a candy bar after me.”

So, he was playing in New York for the Yankees and the Reggie bar was born. On Opening Day of 1978 they passed out Reggie bars to the fans. When he hit a home run, fans inundated right field with flying Reggie bars.

It was also Reggie Jax who said when he arrived in New York, “I didn’t come here to be a star. I brought my star with me.”

And of the Reggie bar, Hall of Fame pitcher Goose Gossage said, “It’s the only candy bar that when you open the wrapper it tells you how good it is.”

~The Cincinnati Reds are playing in Dodger Stadium this weekend, one of the best baseball venues on planet earth. When it was built, it cost $23 million. That’s $200 million in today’s dollars.

So why did it cost $2.3 billion to build the new Yankee Stadium. Dodger Stadium is still better.

~Did you know that nearly 40 Native Americans played major league baseball before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947?

In began in 1897 with Louis Sockalexis and then came Chief Bender and Jim Thorpe. Not surprisingly, so many of them went by ‘Chief,’ even though none was actual tribal chiefs — Chief Yellow Horse, Chief Youngblood, Chief Meyers, Chief Choneau, Chief Johnson. Chief Hogsett.

Some recognizable stars were Native Americans like Rudy York (Cherokee), Allie Reynolds (Muscogee), Pepper Martin (Osage) and Cal McLish (Choctaw).

In 1973, outfielder/artist Gene Locklear of the Lumbee tribe played for the Cincinnati Reds and painted many of their portraits.

Outfielder Cesar Geronimo was nicknamed ‘Chief,’ for obvious reasons, but he is from the Dominican Republic.

~My new favorite baseball team: The Savannah Bananas. Wonder if it has any players who played for the UC-Santa Cruz Banana Slugs? Now there are a couple of teams with real a-peel. (Insert groan here).

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