By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave on Memorial Day as we remember those who sacrificed for you and me. And thank you, thank you, thank you all veterans for your service.
—Take hope, Cincinnati Reds fans. History does repeat itself (a few times) and miracles do happen (a few times).
This note comes from Allyson Footer, a multi-talented MLB.com journalist and a graduate of Northmont High School:
“This isn’t a remotely fair comparison because one of the teams had a roster filled with perennial All-Stars and future Hall of Famers, and the other decidedly does not.
“But I do find it at least a little interesting that the 2005 NL pennant-winning Houston Astros and the 2022 Cincinnati Reds had identical records after the first 45 games of the season: 15-30. And no, to this day, I have no idea how the Astros started off that bad. They were on pace for 108 losses and ended up playing in the first World Series in franchise history. There’s no real point to this post except to send out a friendly reminder that 162 games makes for a long season.”
Ah, hope does spring eternal, doesn’t it. After that 15-30 start, the Astros went 74-43 to win 89 games.
Allyson isn’t implying that the Reds can do that, but it does show that impossible things do happen.
—QUOTE: From pitcher Roger Clemens on the 2005 Houston Astros: “I’m really proud of this team. We’ve come back from so much. We’ve had so much to overcome and we kept on doing what we had to do. These guys go about their business in the right way, I’m talking about the young guys as well as the veterans.” (Will somebody from the 2022 Reds be able to say the same thing?)
—On Sunday, Reds manager David Bell’s lineup contained five No. 1 draft picks and one No. 2 in the first seven spots of his batting order.
It was Nick Senzel (1-Reds), Tyler Naquin (1-Cleveland), Tyler Stephenson (1-Reds), Joey Votto (2-Reds), Mike Moustakas (1-Royals), Albert Almora Jr. (1-Cubs).
And they still lost.
The Reds took Joey Votto in the second round (44th overall) in 2002. The No. 1 pick (third overall)? Pitcher Chris Gruler. In four minor league seasons he never made it above low Class A Dayton.
—When Mike Schmidt played at Dayton Fairview High School, he was a switch-hitter and was a switch-out. In his senior year he hit .179 with one home run.
In his last high school game, facing legendary coach Ron Brookey’s Meadowdale team in the City League championship game, Schmidt decided to bat right-handed against a right-handed pitcher.
He decided to bat right-handed and hit a mammoth home run far over the left field wall. He never switch-hit again.
After a great career as a walk-on at Ohio University, Schmidt hit 548 home runs, won 10 Gold Gloves as third baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies and is enshrined in the baseball Hall of Fame.
—QUOTE: From Dayton native and Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, who was heavily booed and heavily criticized by the Philadelphia newspapers: “Philadelphia is the only city where you can experience the thrill of victory and the agony of reading about it the next day.”
—Rickey Henderson is MLB’s all-time best base stealer, 1,406 for his career. He stole more than 100 three times, including 130 one year.
While that’s ultra-impressive, he did something else that might be more impressive. He led off innings with a walk 796 times. And one thing a pitcher did not want to do is walk Rickey Henderson to start a inning. That was like handing him second base. . .and sometimes third.
—QUOTE: Rickey Henderson on why he stole bases: “When I was a Little Leaguer, I was famous for stealing bases. And it started only because my mom wanted to be sure where I was in the afternoons. Mom always used to say, ‘If you don’t come home dirty, you didn’t play a baseball game.’ So I always tried to get in a situation where I had to slide so that I could go home dirty.” (And mom threw the uniform into the washing machine so Rickey could dirty it up the next day.)
—All the unoccupied seats this season in Great American Ball Park is mindful of the movie ‘The Natural,’ with all the empty seats in the New York Knights’ stadium before Roy Hobbs arrived.
There is no Roy Hobbs is the Reds’ future and there will be no exploding lamps in a light tower above GABP.]
—QUOTE: From Roy Hobbs of the New York Knights: “Sometimes when I walk down the street I bet people will say, ‘There goes Roy Hobbs, the best there ever was in the game.’” (I believe Ted Williams said the same thing. . .and it was true.)
—As a youth, Tris Speaker was right-handed until he fell off a horse and fractured his arm in multiple places. Eager to get back to baseball, he taught himself to throw left-handed.
And he thought he was a pitcher until he gave up 22 straight hits in a semi-pro game. His manager finally removed him and plunked him into the outfield.
That’s where he stayed and became one of the all-time best defensive players in history and hit good enough to make the Hall of Fame.
Pete Rose take note. American League president Ban Johnson suspended Speaker and Ty Cobb for betting on baseball, but both were re-instated by commissioner Kennesaw ‘Mountain’ Landis. Landis is the same commissioner who banished eight members of the Chicago Black Sox for throwing the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds.
Wonder if Speaker ever thanked that horse?
—For some, playing time is more important than playing for a winner. It appears that’s the way Elijah Weaver feels.
The University of Dayton guard went into the transfer portal and signed with Chicago State.
Who? The guess here is that Weaver didn’t even know Chicago State’s nickname when he signed on (Cougars).
Chicago State was 7-25 last season and won a total of 10 games the past four season. The Cougars have had three winning seasons in its 38 years as a Division I team.
So Weaver has gone from Southern Cal to Dayton to Chicago State and now gets to play in front of an average ‘crowd’ of 1,339.
QUOTE: From South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp on the transfer portal: “Guys either want to be at South Carolina or they don’t. If a player doesn’t want to go to South Carolina, he needs to go somewhere else. I want guys that want to be in our program, and if they don’t want to be, they can go somewhere else. “
—The Boston Celtics made it to the NBA finals this year and they did it without Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, John Havlicek, Larry Bird. . .or even Henry Finkel.
—QUOTE: From former Boston Celtics coach Tom Heinsohn, talking about University of Dayton center Hank Finkel replacing Bill Russell at center: “Henry Finkel is not the reason we’re losing.”
—NASCAR’s Charlotte Coca-Cola 600 Sunday resembled rush hour on a Los Angeles freeway. They destroyed more race cars than a demolition derby.
Chris Buescher, who flipped his car on the front stretch at Talladega in 2017, did it better Sunday. He barrel-rolled seven times in the infield grass, landing on his roof.
Amazingly, he climbed out without a scratch. Why can’t they make passenger cars like those NASCAR tanks?