By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, so happy Fourth of July fireworks are over so I don’t have to coax Paige and Quinn out of my office closet. And I’m convinced a majority of the fireworks-igniters have no idea what the
Fourth of July represents.
—If baseball commissioner Rob Manfraud wants to mess up the game even more, this idea was presented to me about how to level the playing field. If came from a golfer friend with a 14 handicap.
“Make it like golf and use handicaps,” he said, swinging a practice wedge. “Teams with high payroll have to spot runs to teams with low payrolls. Like when the New York Yankees play the Kansas City Royals, the Royals are awarded a 3-0 lead before the game starts.”
Hey, it makes as much sense as ghost runners, three-batter minimums, the designated hitter, seven-inning games, pitch clocks and robot umpires.
And if I never hear spin rate, launch angle and exit velocity again, I’ll be one happy guy.
—Flipped on MLB-TV at 11:30 Fourth of July morning and what to my wondering eyes did appear? Billy Hamilton in the batter’s box wearing a Miami Marlins uniform.
And he dropped down a perfect sacrifice bunt. A bunt? Something he could never do with the Cincinnati Reds. Not surprisingly, it was Miami’s first sacrifice bunt of the season.
The runner he advance to second base scored Miami’s only run until Bryan De La Cruz hit a two-run game-winning home run in the 10th to beat Washington, 3-2.
The home run came off former Reds relief pitcher Ty Rainey, who must think he still pitches for the Reds.
These days, most MLB players don’t know the difference between bunt and punt.
—QUOTE: From Bill James, the father of baseball analytics: “Bunting is usually a waste of time. If you think about it, a bunt is the only play in baseball that both sides applaud.” (Yeah, I think about it, Bill. I think about it all the time when the Reds don’t bunt and the batter hits into a double play.)
—So Mike Moustakas was upset when acting manager Freddie Benavides pulled him and sent Donovan Solano to pinch-hit for him? Poor baby.
It was the ninth inning last Saturday versus the Braves. The Reds were down, 4-1, but had two runners on base with two outs against left-hander Will Smith.
That’s when Benavides (David Bell was ejected earlier in the game) made his move. Moustakas tossed his bat and batting helmet aside and disappeared up the ramp to the clubhouse. . .a team move all the way,
Solano reached base on a hit by pitch, filling the bases, and Albert Almora Jr. nearly won the game with a fly ball to the left field warning track.
It was a great move, Freddie. And Moustakas? How about some production as the No. 2 highest paid Reds players ($14 million) to Joey Votto ($25 million).
At the time of the move, Moustakas’ slash line was .222/.320/.323 and he hasn’t homered since May 13.
And much to Bell’s credit, he pinch-hit for Moustakas again Sunday against Atlanta left-hander A.J. Minter. The pinch-hitter, Jonathan India, was hit by a pitch to fill the bases and Albert Almora Jr., delivered a game-winning single, Cincinnati’s first walk-off win of the season.
—QUOTE: From former Cleveland – – – – dians infielder Woodie Held: “Don’t forget to swing hard in case you hit the ball.” (Mike Moustakas swings very hard but as of the Fourth of July had more strikeouts than hits, 44-37. And by the way, Joey Votto is even worse — 45 hits, 62 strikeouts.)
—Reds broadcaster Jeff Brantley hammers the nail squarely again on the Fourth of July.
As relief pitcher Luis Cessa kept throwing ball one to every hitter, Brantley said, with disgust dripping, “It is a constant theme for this Reds bullpen to fall behind in the count.”
As Neil Diamond put it, this is a Song Sung Blue.
—Maybe it wasn’t the infamous billy goat that put the curse on the Chicago Cubs.
Charlie Grimm, a former player, manager and front office executive with the Cubs, known as Jolly Cholly, died in 1983. His widow received permission to scatter his ashes on the Wrigley Field playing surface. Now some folks insist that Grimm’s ghost haunts Wrigley.
Sound like one of Grimms’ Fairy Tales to me, like The Girl Without Hands, which perfectly describes some recent Cubs’ infielders.
—Some nights you just want to watch a baseball movie instead of suffer through another Reds loss?
So here is my subjective Top Ten baseball movies. . .and, yes, some good ones didn’t make it.
A League of Their Own
Field of Dreams
Bang the Drum Slowly.
Eight Men Out
—Honorable Mentions: The Rookie, Mr. 3,000, Fear Strikes Out, Sugar, ’61,’ For Love of the Game, Bad News Bears, Angels in the Outfield.
And don’t forget Naked Gun. No, it isn’t a baseball movie, but the scene in Dodger stadium when Leslie Nielsen, portraying Lt. Frank Drebin, takes over as home plate umpire is not only the funniest baseball movie scenes ever, but one of the funniest movie scenes of any kind. . .ever.
Every time I see it I am reminded of Angel Hernandez.