By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, reading an anthology of baseball columns written by Damon Runyon, which ran on forever because he writes about the game, the weather, the celebrities in the stands, gamblers, descriptions of the ball parks, what the guys in the press box were saying, what the vendors were saying and the epithets spewed by the fans.
—CALL TO ARMS: It is no inhouse secret that the
Cincinnati Reds roster contains more shortstops than good starting pitchers these days. It seems that a Reds starter can be holding the baseball and the hitter will still bash a double off the right field wall.
It remains to be seen if the Reds go on a search at the trade deadline for a starting pitcher. . .or two. A strong arm dangling from the shoulder will do and it can even have an ‘I Love Mom’ tattoo on the biceps.
The staff has been ravaged by injuries and the team has used 11 different arms to start games, with little success.
Starters have won only 21 games. And they’ve pitched only 385 innings out of a possible 681 1/3. Reds pitchers have given up 410 runs and only the Colorado Rockies have handed over more in the National League.
Check the want ads and you might see: “Wanted. Starting pitchers. Prefer experienced arms. Call 1-800-CAN TOSS.
—SOMETIMES TIME FLIES: Rob Manfraud, the Big Boss of Baseball, probably was grinding his molars whe he saw the time of games during the Reds-Braves three game series.
They were 3:13, 3:09 and 3:28. Manfraud, the speed freak, prefers 2:13, 2:09 and 2:28. But seldom has there been more baseball action during those 9 hours and 56 minutes. Nor have I heard a peep from anybody saying, “Damn, those games were too long.”
The two teams played 53 half-innings and in the entire series there were only seven 1-2-3 half innings.
—BATTING FOR WHO?: There was an eye-popping move by Reds manager David Bell during Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Braves. With lefthander A.J Minter coming into the game, Bell pinch-hit for possible Hall of Famer Joey Votto, sending Jonathan India to bat for him.
It was only the second time Votto has been pinch-hit for and the last time was when he was in a hitting funk. It was like pinch-hitting Denis Menke for Joe Morgan. And India struck out.
How did Votto take it? Full support. While India batted, Votto stood where India always stands in the dugout during games, on a top step, watching intently and said, “I hoped he did well.”.
Afterward, India told The Athletic, “He’s just being a really good teammate and I apppreciate that because that’s what I strive to do every day.”
Still. . .pinch-hit for Votto?
—SIX BLOWN CALLS: It is approximately halfway through the baseball season and I’m not afraid, although red-faced, to reveal that my pre-season predictions are as accurate as those who thought the world was flat.
My predictions coudn’t be more flat. Not one of the six teams I predicted to win their divisions is in first place and some are so far away from first place they can’t see it with Galileo’s telescope.
As of last weekend, here is where I stand (or fell):
My predictions to win the divisions and where they stand: National League East — New York Mets (Fourth place, 15 games behind Atlanta.) National League Central — St. Louis Cardinals (Last place, 11 games behind Cincinnati.) National League West — San Diego Padres (Fourth place, 6 1/2 games behind Arizona).
American League East — Toronto (Fourth place, 10 games behind Tampa Bay.)
American League Central — Cleveland Guardians (Second place, two games behind Minnesota.)
American League West — Houston Astros (Second place, 5 1/2 games behin Texas.)
Add them up (blush, blush) and my teams are a combined 50 games out of first place. And if any of you used car payments and used my picks to wager bets, well, Lord, I apologize and please be with the starving pygmies in New Guinea. Amen.
—PITCH AND PUTT: Keegan Bradley won the Traveler’s Championship last weekend on the TPC River Highlands course in Cromwell, Connecticut with a 23-under par on the par-70 course.
Twnety-three under! Technoloy on golf clubs and golf balls have turned many of the PGA tournament courses into Putt-Putts (I could never get through the windmill).
It is routine for them to drive par-four greens and reach par-fives in two, with the second shot hit with a wedge.
Many of these courses need to be lengthened, especially the par fours and they need to reduce greens to the size of Archie Bunker’s front yard.
Bristh solider Oliver Cromwell probably could have shot par on the Cromwell course using his sword scabbard.
—QUOTE: From comedian/golf lover Bob Hope: “I went to play golf and tried to shoot my age, but I shot my weight instead.”
—RUN, RUN, RUN: When the hyper-aggressive Chris Sabo ran the bases for the Reds, the boys in the press box always said, “Sabo runs until he is out.”
With the ultra-aggressive 2023 Reds, the mantra is, “Run until you score.”
—TURNABOUT IS FAIR PLAY: Another reason why baseball is the greatest game on earth. . .and I don’t care what Canadians say about curling.
One day after the Los Angeles Angels beat the Colorado Rockies, 25-1, the Rockies won, 4-3.
And one day after LSU gave up the most runs in College World Series history, a 24-4 loss to Florida, the Bayou Bengals came back the next day and obliterated the Gators, 18-4, to win the national title.
—QUOTE: From my all-time favorite sports writer, Jim Murray, with Rick Reilly a close second: “I like to look down on a field of green and white, a summertime land of Oz, a place to dream. I’ve never been unhappy in a ball park.” (My thoughts exactly. A baseball press box to me is home-sweet-home.)