By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave prepared for a couple more late nights watching the Cincinnati Reds play in Denver as they hunt for win No. 4 before April expires.
~Any baseball fan who knows a bunt from a punt is familiar with Bobby Thomson’s ‘Shot Heard ‘Round the World,’ his walk-off home run in the third game of a special National League playoff in 1951 that won the New York Giants the pennant over the Brooklyn Dodgers.
What hardly anybody knows is that the Dodgers nearly didn’t make that playoff. They needed to beat the Philadelphia Phillies on the last day of the season to tie the Giants.
And that game was a classic, as re-told in Joe Posnanski’s fabulous book, ‘The Baseball 100.’
The Phillies led, 8-5, in the eighth, but Brooklyn tied it. The game went extras and Hall of Famer Robin Roberts entered the game for the Phillies and Don Newcombe entered for the Dodgers. . .even though both had started and pitched the day before — no days of rest.
The game rumbled into the 14th, Roberts and Newcombe stringing zeros, until Jackie Robinson hit a home run for the Dodgers to win it.
Said Roberts years later, “If I don’t give up that home run to Jackie Robinson, there is no Bobby Thomson home run. There is no playoff. It’s a good thing I gave up that home run, isn’t it?”
Ralph Branca disagrees.
~Some comments I’ve heard about the abysmal start by the Cincinnati Reds:
“Reds: 3-16. That’s not the start time, folks, it’s their record.
“The 1962 New York Mets are worried the Reds might pass their 120-loss season. Where’s Doug Capilla when you need him?”
“There was The Big Red Machine and now there is The Little Red Rented Rowboat. Their pitching staff is right off a slow-pitch softball circuit.”
“Please tell me how they won three games? Were they forfeits?”
“The Reds are so bad even the Chicago Cubs are embarrassed.”
“You always look for consistency and if nothing else the Reds are consistent. Consistently awful. Aristides Aquino (2 for 41, 23 strikeouts) is the real-life version of Pedro Serrano from the movies ‘Major League.’”
“At this rate, Kroger is going to run out of paper bags.”
“As Ron Burgundy said, ‘Glad you stayed classy in Cincinnati, San Diego Padres. And, breaking news. . .the Reds have been eliminated from the National League Central race.”
“At least we have Joey Votto as the latest social media sensation and how can a guy hitting .129 be so popular?”
~One of the rarest plays in baseball is catcher’s interference. . .the catcher reaches to catch a pitch and his glove comes in contact with the hitter’s bat.
It is an error on the catcher and the hitter is awarded first base. During his short career, Nick Senzel has reached base on CI nine times, twice in back-to-back games this week against San Diego. During his long career, Pete Rose was awarded first base 19 times on CI.
Of course, Rose would stand in front of a speeding bullet to get on base.
With the Reds last in the majors in on-base percentage, perhaps instead of swinging at the baseball they should take a few swings at the catcher’s mitt.
~Yes, the Cincinnati Reds have had a longer list of players on the IL than Richie Rich’s Christmas list, 16 and counting.
Expect no sympathy from the Tampa Bay Rays. They began a three-game series this week against the Boston Red Sox with eight pitchers on the injured list. Eight!
And they took two of three from the Red Sox. Not only that, the highest-paid Rays’ player is Brandon Lowe, $4 million on the team’s $73 million payroll.
The Reds have five players making more money than Lowe and a payroll $34 million higher than Tampa Bay’s ($111 million).
And yet the Rays are 11-8, two games out of first place in the American League East and the Reds are. . .well, you know.
~In the 1970 World Series, the Baltimore Orioles Brooks ‘The Human Hoover Sweeper’ Robinson played third base like The Great Wall of China.
The Cincinnati Reds couldn’t get the ball past him if they shot it out of a howitzer. It prompted Reds manager Sparky Anderson to say, “He could throw his glove on the field and it would start 10 double plays all by itself.”
~From Mike Downey, one of my favorite sports journalists: “The Detroit Tigers are dead last in home runs (eight) and stolen bases (two). It’s lucky for Detroit fans they have so many other good teams like the Lions, Red Wings and Pistons.”
Downey and I both worked at one time at the Detroit Free Press, but not at the same time. And the teams were lousy then, too, even though Al Kaline, Denny McLain, Bobby Layne, Wayne Walker, Alex Karras, Gordie Howe and Dave Bing were hanging around the Lindell AC.
~My all-time Jim/Jimmy/Jimmie team:
Rotation: Jim Maloney, Jim Bunning, Jim Palmer, Jim Kaat, Jim ‘Catfish’ Hunter.
Bullpen: Jim Konstanty, Jim ‘Mudcat’ Grant, Jim Bouton, Jim Brosnan, Jim Bibby, Jim Deshaies, Jim Abbott.
Catcher: Jim Hegan. First Base: Jim Thome. Second Base: Jim ‘Junior’ Gilliam: Shortstop: Jimmy Rollins. Third Base: Jimmy Ray Hart. Outfield: Jimmie Foxx, Jimmie ‘Toy Cannon’ Wynn, Jimmy Piersall.
Designated Hitter: Jim Rice.
Bench: Jim Fregosi, Jimmy Dykes, Jim Busby, Jim Davenport, Jim Edmonds, Jim Northrup.
Manager: Jim Leyland.
Now isn’t that team just Jim Dandy?