By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, hunting my No. 2 pencils because only the foolhardy keep score at a baseball game with a pen.
—YOUNG BUCKS: Hunter Greene, 23, is the youngest pitcher to start on Opening Day for the Cincinnati Reds since 22-year-old Frank Pastore performed the task in 1980. And Pastore threw a complete-game three-hit shutout agasinst knuckleballer Phil Niekro and the Atlanta Braves.
Known in the Reds clubhouse as the Italian Stallion, Pastore was entertaining the media after the 9-0 win when George Foster walked by. Said Foster, “Way to go, Frank. Thatsa real eye-talian.” Foster had driven in four runs with a double and a home run in front of 51,774 in Riverfront Stadium.
It was a sign that Pastore might be another Tom Seaver. Pastore loved and admired Seaver and tried to do everything exactly the way Tom Terrific did it. That, of course, was impossible.
It didn’t pan out. In seven years with the Reds he was 45-58 with a 4.30 earned run average.
There was a day he began a game by walking the first three batters. Manager John McNamara trudged to the mound and asked, “What’s going on?”
Said Pastore, “I’m working on my mechanics.”
Said McNamara, his face as red a ripe tomato, “(Expletive) the mechanics. Throw (expletive) strikes.”
Pastore, a highly religious man, had a Christian radio show in southern California. One day, he said on the air, “At any minute I could be spread all over the 210.”
Three hours later, while riding his motorcycle on the 210 freeway near Los Angeles, he was struck by a car and died. He was 55.
—A NEW CHANT: From loyal reade Bob in Bellbrook: “The Cincinnati Bengals have the chant, ‘Who Dey?’ The Cincinnati Reds should have a chant, as well. After looking over the 2023 Reds’ roster, I recommend, ‘Who They?’”
Yes, it can replace that one that says, “Where ya gonna go?”
—SIRI-OUS THINKING: With the new bases the size of large deluxe pizza boxes, stolen bases will ramp up dramatically this season.
How about baseball’s most exciting play, a straight steal of home? And it’s still one of the most difficult plays in the game.
Jose Siri, formerly a top Cincinnati Reds prospect now playing for Tampa Bay, enacted a straight steal of home during spring training against the Boston Red Sox. And his eight total steals were the most by a player this spring.
“I’m the type of player that likes to always move on and advance to the next base, so that’s what I was thinking,” said Siri about stealing home.
Remember when Siri was in the Reds’ system and put together a 39-game hitting streak for the Dayton Dragons, longest in Midwest League history? It ended in controversy against the Great Lakes Loons, a Los Angeles Dodgers affiliate.
In Siri’s next-to-last at bat, they threw a pitch behind him, nearly hitting him. On his last at bat, they threw a 3-and-2 pitch that was as wide as the Great Miami River.
It evoked this response from talented Dragons broadcaster Tom Nichols: “First they trieed to hit the batter, Jose Siri, then they didn’t give him anything to hit. It’s a reflection on the Dodgers organization, specifically the (Loons) manager and pitching coach. I hope you’re proud of yourself. You just stopped a hitting streak by not offering a pitch that the guy could hit.
“It is something that has been a great thing for a guy who put together a 39-game hitting streak, what publicity it has brought for this league and throughout minor league baseball. You’ve ended it tonight in a way in which you did not even go about it aggressively and try to beat the guy.”
Way to go, Tom. You told it like it was and it wasn’t pretty.
The Reds never gave Siri a chance. He was claimed on waivers by Seattle at the start of spring training in 2020. A month later, San Francisco claimed him on waivers from Seattle.
After languishing in the minors, he became a free agent after the 2020 season and Houston signed him. He made his major league debut in 2021 with the Astros. They traded him to Tampa Bay at last year’s deadline and he is now the Rays starting center fielder.
Yes, MLB can be a long and winding road.
—QUOTE: From Josh Gibson, the Johnny Bench of the Negro League on why he was never signed by MLB: “They told us when one of us was good enough, they’d sign us. They was lyin.’”
—STRANGE BUT TRUE: Read into this what you want or don’t want. When NBA referee Scott Foster officiates a game in which Chris Paul plays, Paul’s team is 0-and-48.
There is no suspicion of foul play or any indication Foster holds any grudge. It is more that Chris Paul keeps playing for some bad teams.
—THE COLONIALS GET AXED: The dreaded P.C. police roped in another victim. The Atlantic 10’s George Washington University has been known as the Colonials. No more. Some students objected and said, “The name had a negative connotation regarding violence toward Native Americans and other colonized people.”
Colonials? Negative connotation? Yeah, right Colonials is about as meek as nicknames get. The four finalists for a new nickname: Ambassadors, Blue Fog, Revolutionaries, Sentinels, I’m certain some negative connotations can be found in three of those four finalists.
What can be held against Blue Fog. . .unless some jerk suggests that it means the Washington D.C. police force is in a fog.
—SCHOOL DAYS IN UTAH: Until the NIT, I’d never heard of Utah Valley University. I thought it was some tiny school tucked in a corner of the Salt Flats. So I looked it up and. . .wow.
You would think the University of Utah, Utah State, Brigham Young and Weber State are all bigger. You would think wrong.
Utah Valley is the biggest school in the state with 43,282 students. Then comes Brigham Young (34,737), Utah (32,760), Utah State (28,118) and Weber State (24,048). And there is two-year Salt Lake Community College (33,420).
That’s more than 185,000 college students in state with 3.4 million people.
—A DREADED LIST: What is destroying sports as we once knew them and loved them:
The transfer portal and Name, Image and Likeness, Rob Manfraud, LIV golf, NFL’s quarterback merry-go-round, NBA’s scoring frenzy with no defesne, no competitive balance in MLB and no salary cap, the USFL and the XFL (Name two teams in both leagues).
—QUICKLY STATE-ED: A quick geography lesson. Of the 50 states, only one is a one-syllable word. It’s Maine. It is also the only state that has one other state on its border, New Hampshire, but it borders two Canadian provinces, Quebec and New Brunswick.
Maine and New Hampshire are two states I’ve never visited. I’ve been in 44 states. Also on my visitation itinerary: Alaska, Idaho, South Dakota, Oregon.
OK? Remember the Maine.