By HAL McCOY
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, where my oh-so-caring wifemate, Nadine, is limiting me to one cigar a day. So naturally I rummage through my stash to find the longest, fattest one I can find. And many thanks to my own Three Kings — Jose Rijo, Nick Whitt and Larry Hansgen — who came to my personal manger bearing gifts wrapped in cellophane.
—While it is mostly painful watching the Cincinnati Quasi-Reds try to play acceptable baseball this year, there are times that it is worth it.
Such was the case Wednesday when rookie southpaw Nick Lodolo and rookie relief pitcher Alexis Diaz shut out the Philadelphia Phillies, 1-0.
Lodolo is The Real Deal, already polished to a high gleam. He’ll be the Reds’ No. 1 for a few years, so enjoy him now before he ends up with the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees/Mets or the San Diego Padres.
Diaz will be an emphatic closer, like his brother Edwin of the Mets. Enjoy him, too, before he pitches for the Atlanta Braves, Seattle Mariners or the Minnesota Twins.
It also was uplifting to see rookie Jose Barrera roll a 32-hop worm-killing game-winning walk-off single for the 1-0 victory.
Right now, Barrera is overmatched at the plate, as is Aristides Aquino. The young Barrera has an excuse. He is raw and learning. Aquino has no excuse. Any pitcher who throws either of them a fastball should be fined by the manager. Right now, neither can hit a breaking pitch, especially a down-and-away slider.
An insider told me a disturbing tidbit. Aquino is resistant to making changes and adjustments to his approach.
His stand-straight, open-ended stance isn’t working, but he doesn’t want to change, even though he can’t reach outside pitches with a canoe paddle. Wonder if some tips from Pete Rose or Sean Casey would penetrate?
Some advice he should take: He who fails to adjust and fails to improve, sooner than later will be looking for employment outside of baseball.
Ask Homer Bailey.
—I still love the Cleveland Browns, but I remain mystified as to why they signed quarterback DeShaun Watson.
Watson has been suspended for 11 games and fined $5 million by the NFL after Watson was accused of sexual improprieties by 23 different female masseurs.
The $5 million means little to Watson. The Browns gave him a four-year $156 million contract that included a $27 million signing bonus.
The 11 games should mean a lot to the Browns as they probably will stumble through those suspension games.
One question: “What were they thinking?” The thinking here is that they were not thinking at all.”
—Joey Votto’s torn rotator cuff certainly explains a lot. . .his sudden lack of power, his slash line of .205/.319/.370 and his OPS of .689.
He will undergo surgery Friday and miss the rest of the season. They are saying six months to recover, but with pitchers it is sometimes more than a year.
If it is six months, Votto should be ready for next season, the last on his contract for $25 million.
By then, if the team has any smarts at all, they’ll move catcher Tyler Stephenson to first base. As a catcher, he is taking more beatings than Joe Louis handed out to his opponents in the boxing ring.
Votto, by the way, signed as a catcher and was moved to first base.
—QUOTE: From Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench: A catcher and his body are like an outlaw and his horse. . .you have to ride that nag until it drops.” (And Bench’s beat-up body dropped early in his career, as it will for Stephenson if they don’t move him. . .and how in the name of shin guards does Yadier Molina do it?)
—Burleigh Grimes was the last pitcher who could legally throw a spitball after the messy pitch was banned.
As good as the pitch was, Grimes couldn’t slip it past St. Louis shortstop Frankie Frisch. Grimes was so frustrated he began throwing at Frisch on every at bat.
During one game, Frisch bunted up the first base line and when Grimes fielded it, Frisch accidentally spiked him, drawing.
The next time the two were to meet, Frisch approached Grimes before the game an apologized and said it was an accident.
Then, first time up, Grimes drilled Frisch. As he trotted to first base, Frisch yelled, “Hey, what the hell? I apologized.”
Said Grimes, “Yeah, but you weren’t smiling when you said it.”
—Will the Reds lose 100 games and will they match the club record of 101 losses set in 1982?
Although the schedule is difficult and the majority of the remaining games are on the road, wager against it.
They have lost 70 with 46 to play. To lose 100, they have to to 16-and-30 the rest of the way.
They aren’t even going to finish last. Pittsburgh is laying claim to that. And the Chicago Cubs are catchable for third place.
—QUOTE: From movie NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” (Well, in baseball there is the wild card, but that’s bye-bye to the Reds even if they finish third.)
—There is a bird-feeder at the end of our back patio and I enjoy watching the Cardinals and Blue Jays take a break from baseball to grab a snack in my backyard. I’m still awaiting the arrival of the Orioles.
And it is fun watching my dogs, Paige and The Mighty Quinn, chase squirrels that scurry across the top of our backyard fence.
They are like outfielders running to the wall, knowing they’ll never catch a ball destined for the upper deck.
It is great to enjoy life’s subtle little treats.