By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, excitedly awaiting the post-season appearance of the Cleveland – – – -dians, but still wearing my Chief Wahoo hat. So I’m politically incorrect. Shoot me. . .but use a bow and arrow.
—JUDGE-MENT DAY: Nobody ever made a more daring wager on themselves than Aaron Judge, the American League’s all-time single season home run aficionado.
The New York Yankees offered him a seven-year $213 million contract before the season. He turned thumbs down because he becomes a free agent after the season and believes he can command much more. Maybe the Empire State Building and Grand Central Station from the Mets.
Then he started the season slowly and Yankee fans were booing him. Now he is a big Gotham City hero, definitely Batman. And isn’t it amazing that the last three players to set American League home run records were or are all Yankee right fielders — Babe Ruth with 60 in 1927, Roger Maris with 61 in 1962 and Judge with 62 in 2022.
We all know that Washington’s Tracy Stallard gave up number 61 to Maris and Jesus Tiroco of Texas gave up number 62 to Judge. But who gave up number 60 to Ruth?
Like Maris, Ruth’s historic home run also came against the Washington Senators and the pitcher was Tom Zachary.
Zachary had a 19-year major league career and the next year, 1928, he pitched for the Yankees and won Game 3 of the World Series. He won 186 games and lost 191. including the game Ruth hit number 60.
—WHAT’S IN A NUMBER: What’s the most famous number 99? Some might say it’s the drinker’s song: “Ninety-nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall.” Or maybe it is the 99 worn by Red Grange, The Galloping Ghost.
And ’99’ was worn by Ricky ‘Wild Thing’ Vaughn, played by Charlie Sheen in my favorite baseball movie, ‘Major League.’
Right now, of course, it is worn by Aaron Judge. Unusual? Not really. The first major league player to wear 99 was Charlie ‘King Kong’ Keller with the 1952 New York Yankees.
In addition to Judge, players wearing 99 in 2022 included Hyun-Jin Ryu (Toronto), Taijwan Walker (Mets), James Karinchuk (- – – – dians), Keynon Middleton (D-Backs), Yennier Cano (Twins) andJesus Aguilar (Miami).
Notables to wear 99 in the past: Manny Ramirez (Dodgers, White Sox), Mitch Williams (Phillies, Astros, Angels), Turk Wendell (Mets, Phillies), Todd Hundley (Cubs) and Todd Frazier (briefly with the Pirates.)
—QUICK KNEE JERK: Less than 24 hours after the Cincinnati Reds lost their 100th game, we found out who was at fault. The scapegoats were five coaches and a medical staffer. They were all fired.
First base/base-running/infield coach Delino DeShields. Gone. Hitting coach Alan Zinter. Gone. Bullpen coach Lee Tunnell. Gone. Assistant coach Rolando Valles. Gone. Advance scouting coach Cristian Perez. Gone. Director of performance and health Geoff Head. Gone.
Manager David Bell signed a two-year extension after the 2021 season, so his contract is good through next season. Pitching coach Derek Johnson also signed an extension after the 2021 season.
—A PASS FOR THE DH: I still despise the designated hitter because it takes away so much strategy and too often makes the manager a cigar store Indian.
But I am giving it a free pass this year. If the National League hadn’t adopted the DH this season, we wouldn’t have seen Albert Pujols reach 703 home runs.
What Aaron Judge did this season and what Pujols did as primarily a DH for the Cardinals were the two most dramatic and exciting things in MLB this season. . .along with the Cleveland – – – – dians winning the American League Central.
Get this one. Pujols has 18 home runs since the All-Star break. Kyle Farmer led the Reds with its final roster with 14 home runs…for the entire season.
—QUOTE: From Albert Pujols, the recent discoverer of the Fountain of Youth: “I know, in my heart, I can hit anybody.” (Indeed, he can. His 703 home runs have come against 458 different pitchers, an all-time record.)
—THEY WENT SOMEWHERE, PHIL: The Cincinnati Reds announced their home attendance for 2022 as1.38 million, smallest in the history of Great American Ball Park.
It was the fewest fans since 1984 when they drew 1 .275 million. They finished next-to-last in the National League West with a 70-92 record.
And remember, paid attendance is tickets sold, not actual butts in the seats. Imagine all those corporation tickets wasting away unused in office desks.
Well, Phil Castellini, it looks as if scads and scores of fans found a place to go and it wasn’t GABP.
—QUOTE: From former manager Leo ‘The Lip’ Durocher: “Baseball is like church. Many attend, few understand.” (In Cincinnati this year it was, “Few attended because everybody understands.)
—BRAVE OLD WORLD: On June 1, the Atlanta Braves were 10 1/2 games out of first place, then flipped the switch and won their fifth straight National League East title.
On June 1, the Cincinnati Reds were 13 1/2 games out of first place. . .and, well, as Paul Harvey used to say, “And now you know the rest of the story.”
—PUT IT TO MUSIC: Just minutes after the Reds lost their 100th game of the season, 15-2, three different fans sent me the video of a Cincinnati group called Blessed Union of Souls singing ‘Go Home.”
Some lyrics: “Go home, you’re done. Hit the showers, thanks for the run. You bums. You got crushed. Just beat it. You got no hope. Go home. Hey, pitcher, I guess that was your fastball. I don’t think you can get it past my grandma. Ball one. Ball two. You threw a strike and he yanked it out of the ballyard…”
And it goes on. Watch the entire video on You Tube. It’s hilarious.
—ODDLY SPEAKING: The Pittsburgh Steelers are 14-point underdogs at Buffalo this week. Those are the most points for them to be underdogs since 1969, the first year University of Dayton product Chuck Noll was their coach and turned them into a dynasty.
The big point spread is all because quarterback Ben Roethlisberger retired and the Steelers are in a def com search for a signal-caller.
WHO AND WHO?: As I watched ESPN2 one morning, a score scrolled across the bottom of the screen, but it didn’t identify what league it was.
The score was Igniters 122, Metropolis 115. It sounded like something out of Superman (The Metropolis Daily Planet). So I looked it up and it was from the NBA ‘G’ League. . .an exhibition game.
ESPN obviously was short on scroll material that day.