By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from the Man Cave, wondering if Elly De La Cruz went to Chris Sabo’s School of Baserunning: Run until you are safe or out?
—REACTIONARY ‘SALUTES’: That’s quite a fuss New York Yankees pitcher Carlos Rodon kicked up for showing fake admiration for Gotham fans.
As he came off the field in a game this week, down 4-0 to the Los Angeles Angels, he reacted to intense booing from the Yankee Faithful by blowing them a kiss.
Fans expect more than an 0-and-3 record with a 7.36 earned run average in his three starts since Rodon came off the injured list, where he was when the season began.
They want more for their money — $162 million for six years.
At least it was a blown kiss, and not the Fickled Finger of Fate that Reds Hall of Fame pitcher Danny Graves flashed at a fan.
Graves was one of the Reds’ all-time best closers, nicknamed The Baby-Faced Assassin. For some reason, manager Bob Boone decided Graves should be a starter. And it didn’t go well. After one rough outing, Graves was removed from the game. As he reached the dugout steps a fan yelled, “Go back to Vietnam,” Graves’ birth place.
Instead of blowing the man a kiss, Graves raised his middle finger, the ol’ one-finger salute.
It was very uncharacteristic of Graves, one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet, if he doesn’t have a baseball in his hand.
Like Rodon, it was reactionary. And it should be forgotten quickly, although many Reds fans have not forgetten.
¸—A HEART-TUGGER: Due to mental health issues, minor-league pitcher Alex Reas retired in 2021. He began coaching Little League in the Carolinas.
But the itch was still there and his mental health issues seemed resolved. So he asked the Texas Rangers, the team that oringally drafted him, for another try this spring. They said yes.
So Reas dazzled them in Class AA and Class AAA, a 1.00 ERA and 14.8 strikeouts per nine innings. The Rangers called him up this week and he made his MLB debut.
How did he do? Swimmingly. Facing the Tampa Bay Rays, he pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings to help preserve a win. In the process, he struck out three All-Stars — Wander Franco,Yandy Diaz and Randy Arozarena.
Of striking out Franco, he said, “I didn’t even know who was batting. I was too locked in.”
SPEED DEMON: While Cincinnati Reds infielder Elly De La Cruz is showing off his bionic arm with 98 and 99 miles an hour throws (Should he pitch?), there is real velocity emanating in Minneapolis.
Minnesota Twins closer Jhoan Duran has thrown the five fasted pitches in MLB this season, between 104.4 and 104.8 miles an hour.
The 104.8 came this week against Seattle third baseman and former Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez. Amazingly, Suarez hit the pitch.
It wasn’t a mammoth home run, it was a weak grounder to third. How do you make contact with a pitch at 104.8 miles an hour? Close your eyes and swing?
This Duran must be like the Duran Duran song, ‘Hungry Like the Wolf.’
“I throw the ball to home plate as hard as I can,” said Duran. (Oh, good. I wondered if those might be change-ups.)
—NO BALTIMORE BROOMS: Baseball is always full of wild and wonderful factoids. And here is one that shocked me:
The Baltimore Orioles have played 71 straight series without getting swept. They’ve won at least one game in all 71 series.
—QUOTE: From Babe Ruth about retirement: “All ballplayers should quit when it starts to feel as if all the baselines run uphill.” (I feel the same about a set of stairs, Babe.)
—PHILLY PHOLLIES: Back in the days when Philadelphia had two major league teams, the A’s in the American League and the Phillies in the National League, there were many years when it was tough to be a baseball fan in the City of Brotherly Love.
They both finished last in the same year many times. Take for example the 1936 season. The Phillies were 54-100 and the A’s were 53-100.
Those two teams should have played a World Not So Serious set of games to determine the absolute worst team of ’36.
Of course, there was no losing team like the expansion 1962 New York Mets, losers of the stilll standing record of 120 losses.
The Mets played 58 one-run games, losing 39. And they lost 13 of 17 extra-inning games. Close, but not even a cheap cigar.
Of their 39 one-run games, manager Casey Stengel said, “And there were plenty of game we lost by 14.”
—ROCKY MOUNTAIN CHANGE: When Deion Sanders played in the NFL and MLB, he was most known for his ability to run.
Now that he is a college football coach, he is known for his penchant to run off. . .as in run off players.
He is the new coach at Colorado and he is giving the team a complete makeover. Of the 51 scholarship player on the team this spring, only 10 remain.
Sanders calls his method the 40-40-20 plan. He is bringing in 40% graduate transfers, 40% undergraduate transfers and 20% high school recruits.
“I’m a change agent,” said Sanders. “Everthing I touch, it has no other possibilities but to change because that’s what we do.”
Sanders is there to change a losing culture. Not counting the shortened 2020 pandemic season, the Buffaloes have had one winning season since 2005 — 16 losing records in 17 years. The Buffs were 1-and-11 last season.
Sanders was a defensive whiz in the NFL and he better transfer that to Colorado. Each week, the Buffaloes got worse. In order, they gave up 39, 41, 43, 45, 43, 42, 42, 49, 55, 54 and 6 points.
Colorado, where the buffalo roam, is not where good football players have roamed
—QUOTE: From Neon Deion Sanders: “If your dream ain’t bigger than you, there’s a problem with your dream.” (His dream for Colorado could turn into a nightmare.)
—DIALING ‘EM UP: My all-time favorite standard home runs calls by broadcasters, past and present. And I have to start with the first one I ever heard, from Cleveland Indians play-by-play guy Jimmy Dudley in 1948 when I was eight: “It’s going, going, going, gone.”
Bob Uecker, Brewers: “Get up, get up, get outta here, gone.”
Tom Hamilton, Guardians: “There’s a swing and drive, waaaaay back, gone.”
Hawk Harrelson, White Sox: “There’s a drive. . .put it on the board. . .yes.”
Jon Miller, Giants (When a Latino homers)” “Adios, pelota.”
Drew Gordon, Nationals: “Take a good look, because you won’t see it long.”
John Sterling, Yankees: “It is high, it is far, it is gone.”
Greg Brown, Pirates: “Raise the Jolly Roger, cannonball coming.”
Harry Caray: “It might be, it could be, it is.”
Jeff Kingery, Rockies: “That ball is going and it ain’t coming back.”
Harry Kalas, Phillies: “Swing and a long drive and. . .that ball is outta here.”N
—DOG EAT DOG: On a recent segment of MLB Central, my favorite baseball show, they argued over whether anybody should put ketchup on a hot dog. Most of them acted as if that was like putting mayonaise on spaghetti. Mustard only, they said.
But Lauren Shehadi said she hates mustard and prefers ketchup on her hot dogs. And whatever Lauren Shehadi says I’m all for it.
What I wish somebody would have said is, “It is personal preference. Whatever somebody likes. Who are we to say ketchup is not cool on a hot dog? If a person likes red dirt on a hot dog, go for it.”
Uh, yes, I put ketchup and onions on my hot dogs. Wonder how many ‘dogs Joey Chestnut could eat with ketchup on them?
—QUOTE: From old-time movie idol Humphrey Bogart: “A hot dog at the ballgame beats roast beef at the Ritz.” (Mustard or ketchup, Bogey?)
—QUOTE: From Clint Eastwood in the movie Dirty Harry: “Nobody, but nobody, puts ketchup on a hot dog.” (Shut up and go drive your Mustang, Harry.)