OBSERVATIONS: Reds Are The Fastest Team On The Basepaths

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Cave after a boring day off because there was no Cincinnati Reds game, although I did watch the Pirates beat the Padres through the thick smoke sent to us, with love, from Canada.

—RUN REDS, RUN: Anybody who has watched the Cincinnati Reds speed around the bases like apartment-dwellers fleeing a four-alarm fire, already knew this.

But it’s official. Statcast metrics say the Runnin’ Reds are the fastest team in the majors. The average speed of all MLB teams is 27 feet per second. The Reds cover 28 feet per second. In baseball, a foot is as good as a mile.

The main man who pushes the Reds to a higher plane is Elly De La Cruz, who could cross Cripple Creek in a single stride. When he flashes around the bases his name becomes Elly De La Cruise.

Just a year ago, the Reds ran the bases like the hare racing the tortoise, the 23rd fastest (or slowest) team. And it is by design.

Reds general manager Nick Krall said recently during a TV interview, “We actually looked at this several years ago and said we had to get more athletic, we had to be better baserunners. And it is going to be the biggest improvement we can make to our team.”

Mission accomplished and job well done.

—ROOKIES, ROOKIES, ROOKIES: MLB Pipeline issues a monthly rating of the top rookies. Last month, there were no Reds in the top ten. This month there are two. . .Elly De La Cruz at No. 4 and Matt McLain at No. 9.

That leaves me with two bones to pick. First of all, McLain should be much, much higher. And he should be above De La Cruz, who had one mammoth week and is now struggling a bit. McLain has been as steady as a surgeon’s fingers.

Neither Andrew Abbott nor Spencer Steer made the top ten. Please, guys, give me a vote.

—QUOTE: From country singer Garth Brooks: “As a kid, before I could play music, I remember baseball being the one thing that could always make me happy.” (But when he sang ‘The Dance,’ Garth wasn’t singing about the NCAA basketball tournament.)

—PREMATURE SIGNATURE?: Retired legendary Cincinnati sports anchor Dennis Janson posed a great question on Facebook about the Reds signing second-year pitcher Hunter Greene to a six-year $53 million contract.

“What was the hurry?” asked D.J. I agree. What was the hurry? He took a physical before the contract was signed this season. Since then, he has been on the injured list twice. He won’t return until August, if then, same as fellow rotation member Nick Lodolo.

The Reds learn their lessons hard? They’ve been burned so many times by long-term deals: Homer Bailey, Devin Mesoraco, Brandon Phillips, Mike Moustakas and, to an extent, Joey Votto.

There was no sane reason to sign Greene so early in his career when they could have waited a couple more years to see how he pitched and how healthy he would be.

—SHHHH! HE’S PERFECT: The quietest perfect game in MLB history was thrown Wednesday night by New York Yankees pitcher Domingo German. Because it was a night game on the west coast and because it was against the Oakland A’s, not even MLB-TV gave it more than cursory attention.

If a perfect game is thrown aqainst the A’s is it like asking if a tree falling in the forest make a sound if there is nobody around? Dose it really count? It was like a Wright State University pitcher throwing a perfect game against West Carrollton High School. Oakand is 21-61, 29 games out of first place and on direct course toward a modern-day record of 121 losses.

But perfect is perfect. German threw 99 pitches, 77 for strikes, nearly identical to Tom Browning’s perfect game pitch-count of 101 pitches for 77 strtikes.

David Cone owns the record for fewest pitches in a perfect game. He threw 88, 66 for strikes, during his 1999 perfecto against the Montreal Expos.

—BASHING BAMBINO: For today’s baseball history lesson, on October 6, 1926, George Herman Babe Ruth hit three home runs in Game 4 of the World Series. No player had ever hit more than three home runs in an entire World Series.

Babe’s first two blasts were hit in Sportsman’s Park off a St. Louis Cardinals pitcher named Flint Rhem. Sports writer Damon Runyon wrote, “Flint Rhem’s name sounds like a patent medicine.”

And the times do change. Yankees pitcher Waite Hoyt pitched the entire game despite giving up six runs and 13 hits in New York’s 10-6 win.

Wrote Runyan, “The game dragged across 2 hours and 39 minutes and Waite Hoyt, that old-time schoolboy, staggered through the entire game.”

Before Game 4, the Yankees were mostly futile at the plate in the first three games and wrote Runyon, “It is rumored that some persons were seen violating the Volstedt Act (Prohibition, no alcohol) But it is believed they were New Yorkers who had been driven to drinking hair tonic after watching the Yankees try to hit.”

—QUOTE: From Joe Dugan, a Babe Ruth teammate with the New York Yankes: “Born? Hell, Babe Ruth wasn’t born. He fell from a tree. And it’s always the same. Combs walks. Koenig singles. Ruth hits one out of the park. Gehrig doubles. Lazzeri triples. Then Dugan goes in the dirt on his can.” (And he wasn’t even facing Bob Gibson or Don Drysdale. As Pittsburgh infielder Don Groat once said, “Don Drysdale would consider an intentional walk a waste of four pitches. If he wants to put you on base, he can hit you with one pitch.”)

—HEAD-Y SLOGANS: When Vern Rapp managed the Reds, briefly, he covered the clubhouse walls with slogans and sayings, like a high school football lockerroom.

My favorite was, “When in doubt, slide.” He should have added one, “Don’t slide head first, ever?” Manager David Bell must cringe every time he sees Elly De La Cruz or Matt McLain, or any of his players, slide head first. It’s a shoulder separation ready to happen.

But they all do it, even though it has never been proven that a head-first slide gets a runner to the base faster that a feet-first slide.

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