OBSERVATIONS: Elly’s Time Was More Than Past Due

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from the Man Cave after two bowls of my favorite cereal, Frosted Flakes, which I have to share with my canine pals, Paige, Quinn and Parker, because they love Frosted Flakes as much as a do (without the bananas).

—IT’S TIME FOR ELLY: It would be easier to twist a Rubik’s Cube into its correct alignment than to solve the Elly De La Cruz mystery and why it took so long.

Finally, the Cincinnati Reds called him up today.

Why in the name of Jimmy Buffetr was De La Cruz Wasting Away in Louisville when he should have been wearing a Cincinnati Reds uniform a month ago?

The bandwagon to bring up De La Cruz was stuffed like a New York subway at 5 o’clock. I’m was not only on that bandwagon, but I wanted in the driver’s seat.

The only people who stood on the curb for so long appear to be in the Reds front office.

During an interview this week with super sports talk show host Alan Cutler on Lexington’s ESPN Sports Radio (1300), he brought up Eric Davis as a comparison to De La Cruz.

Excellent comparison. A knee-high fastball on the outside corner.

In my 50 years of covering baseball, Davis had the most all-around talent I ever saw — power, hit-for-average, speed, arm, defense, everything that makes up the total package of a baseball player. If he hadn’t insisted on running into walls and diving in pursuit of hard-hit baseballs, Davis would be enshrined in Cooperstown.

De La Cruz, only 21, is stuffed with the same attributes.
His numbers are eye-popping and vest-popping. His slash line through 38 gaems was .298/.398/.633. In 186 plate appearances, he had 11 doubles, three triples and 12 home runs.

Some of the home runs he has hit would land in a Kentucky cow pasture if he hit them in Great American Smallpark. The ball comes off his quick bat as if lauched by nuclear fission.

He has 11 stolen bases and runs the bases like Billy Hamilton, but unlike Hamilton, he knows how to get on base.

Defense? No problem. And his arm rivals his bat velocity.

Some folks wonder where he will play with the Reds. Hey, anywhere. The Reds lack power and what an infusion De La Cruz should make. And as a switch-hitter, he won’t have to be platooned the way manager David Bell likes to operate.

He played shortstop and first base at Louisville. With the way rookie Matt McLain is playing at shortstop, it would make zero sense to move him.

How about third base? With his arm, third base is a good location for De La Cruz. Yes, Nick Senzel is playing knock down defense at third base, but with all the young talent swimming in the system, his days probably are in the low numbers with the Reds.

McLain is an excellent example of the Reds calling up a playe who was knocking them stiff in the minors.

If this is a true total rebuild for the Reds, and it appears that it is, there isn’t a bigger or better building block in the system than the dynamic Dominican.

—QUOTE: From former Reds/Detroit Tigers manager Sparky Anderson, master of the overstatement: “Chris Pittaro is the best rookie I’ve had in 15 years.” (Pittaro playes 53 games in three major league seasons and batted .221 with no homers and seven RBI. (A slight swing-and-a-miss, Sparky.)

—JUST SAYIN’: Before the four-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers, during the first 46 games of the season the Cincinnati Reds played the most games against teams with under .500 records than any other MLB team.

On the flip side, the Reds have won more games than any other team when their starting pitcher leaves the game and the Reds are behind.

—QUOTE: From Hall of Fame outfielder and quotemaster Reggie Jackson: “I was once reminded that when we lose and I strike out, more than a billion people in China don’t care.” (But they sure cared in New York, right Reggie?)

—HE MISSED FOUR: In 1973, former National Leauge President Ford C. Frick, made a list of 10 baseball records he thought never would be broken. He missed on:

***Walter Johnson’s 3,508 career strikeouts. (He only missed by 2,206 strikeouts. Nolan Ryan struck out 5,715.

***Lou Gehrig’s 2,130 consecutive games played. (Cal Ripken played 2,632.)

***Ty Cobb’s 4,191 career hits. (Pete Rose collected 4,256 hits.)

***Babe Ruth drawing 2,056 career walks. (Barry Bonds was walked 2,558 times.

Well, six out of ten ain’t bad. But it ain’t too good, either.

And the ones he got right, so far: Cy Young’s 511 career victories (safe), Charles Radbournes’ 60 vcitories in one season (safe), Lou Gehrig’s 100 or more RBI in 13 straight seasons (safe), Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak (maybe), Don Larsen’s perfect game in a World Series (maybe).

***And I will add to the list of records that won’t ever be broken: Nolan Ryan’s seven no-hitters, Rickey Henderson’s 1,406 career stolen bases, Nolan Ryan’s 2,795 career walks.

—QUOTE: From Olympic swimmer Mark Spitz, winner of seven gold medals in the 1972 Olympics: “Life is true to form, records are meant to be broken.” (Some are broken, some are shattered.)

—DREAM THE IMPOSSIBLE: No MLB player has hit .400 for a season since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941, 82 years ago. Many have tried, all have failed.

So much is beng made of Miami’s Luis Arraez and his .399 batting average as of Sunday. Even that is nothing to make one rush to Las Vegas and wager that he will hit .400.

His average after 61 games is glossy, for sure, but since Williams hit .406 there have been eight players (Williams twice) who were hitting above .400 after 61 games.

They are Chipper Jones (.418 in 2008), Larry Walker (.414 in 1997), Paul O’Neill (.411 in 1994), Rod Carew (.411 in 1983), Stan Musial (,408 in 1948), Ted Williams (..408 in 1948), Tony Gwynn (.405 in 1997), Ted Williams (..403 in 1948).

Only Williams stayed above .400 the entire season. Like Arraez, Roberto Alomar was hitting .399 after 61 games.

Arraez could become the first player in MLB hlstory to win the batting title in the American League and National League in consecutive seasons. He won it in the AL last season with a .312 for the Minnesota Twins. And he has a big lead in the NL this season with the Marlins.

He might do that. . .but he ain’t gonna hit .400, book it.

—QUOTE: From Ted Williams, the greatest hitter to ever circle a basepath: “All managers are losers. They are the most expendable pieces of furniture on earth.” (The Splendid Splinter should know. While he was an unbelievable hitter, he was ordinary as the manager of fhe old Washington Senators. In four years, he was 273-364 with two sixth places, one fifth and one fourth. And he could never understand why his players couldn’t hit like him.)

—SENILITY SETS IN: After Reds pitcher Andrew Abbott made his wonderful debut Monday against Milwaukee, no runs and one hit over six innings, I wrote my story, about 1,000 words.

I finished and prepared to send it to the paper. But before I hit ‘copy’ on my computer, I hit ‘paste.’ Poof. The story was gone, hiding somwhere in my laptop like somebody in the Witness Protection Program.

I know it resides somewhere in my MacBook Pro, but after futilely trying to find it for a half hour, I gave up.

Only one thing to do. Write it again. And when that happens, the re-write is never as good as the original.;

It is so hellish getting as old as the Ancient Mariner.







One thought on “OBSERVATIONS: Elly’s Time Was More Than Past Due”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *