By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, unhappy with the demise of the Cincinnati Reds but happy that I’m down 23 pounds with only 10 to go. Hope it comes off fast because I miss pasta, DQ, burgers and fries, apple pie ala mode, Yuengling, Tito’s, donuts and feasts at the Oakwood Club and Mom’s Restaurant breakfasts in Franklin.
—WRONG PLACE: There is no doubt under God’s green outfield that Elly De La Cruz is an incredible talent.
But leadoff? Shouldn’t that experiment end, although it is not an experiment. Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell keeps writing his name at the top of his lineup cards.
Isn’t a leadoff hitter’s job to get on base? It is obvious that Bell wants to use De La Cruz’s fastest man in the world speed.
But 51 strikeouts in his last 32 games? How about 81 strikeouts in 238 plate appearances?
And taking a walk seems to be an affront to him. Only 16 walks.
And most incredibly, he stole second, third and home on two pitches on July 8. Since then he has one stolen base in more than a month.
Doesn’t he shorten his swing with two strikes? Nope, he tries to hit a splashdown in the Ohio River.
There are at least two better options, TJ Friedl, the buntmaster and contact hitter, or Jonathan India. India was batting leadoff with the right approach until Bell dropped him to third and put De La Cruz at the top.
And India hasn’t been the same. De La Cruz needs to bat third or fourth. I’ve never managed an MLB game, but it seems so obvious to me. . .and others.
—ON ERIC THE RED: Much is being made of the possibility of Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr. performing a 50/50, 50 homers and 50 stolen bases. It has never been done.
But how about this one, which adds fuel to my warped opinion that Eric Davis was one of the all-time best all-around players?
Over a 162-game span (a full season), from June 18, 1986 to July 10, 1987, Eric the Red hit .307 with 49 home runs and 93 stolen bases.
—D-RO’S CONCERNS: MLB-TV’s Mark DeRosa played 17 years for eight teams — Atlanta, Texas, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland, St. Louis, San Francisco, Washington and Toronto (How did he miss Cincinnati?). His career slash line was .268/.340/.412 and hit exactly 100 home runs. Suffice it to say he was a glove man and took a bat to home plate for no apparent reason.
On a recent show he was asked if he was concerned about the Cincinnati Reds and he said, “Yes, I’m worried. They are putting a lot of pressure on their young pitchers. When Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo come back, they are going to have to ride them hard and that’s a lot of pressure on young pitchers.”
I must say that I agree, along with all the usage manager David Bell is extracting from a seemingly very tired bullpen.
—CUBBIE CAKEWALK?: The Chicago Cubs are making their move toward the top of the National League Central standings and starting next week they have a schedule that could be a walkover.
From August 14 through August 27 they have 12 games against the Chicago White Sox (2), the Kansas City Royals (3), the Detroit Tigers (3) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (4).
The Cubs are lobbying MLB to add four games at the end of that stretch against the Oakland A’s.
—IT’S A LONG ROAD: It is only 125 miles between Los Angeles and San Diego via I-5, but for the San Diego Padres the baseball distance between them and the Los Angeles Dodgers is from here to the moon.
The Dodgers won the season series this year against the Padres. . .for the 13th straight season. That’s the longest stretch between division rivals since MLB divided up into divisions in 1969.
The Padres shrink like rotten mushrooms against the Dodgers. On Sunday they had a 5-0 lead before LA scored 13 straight runs and won, 13-7.
—WHAT DID HE SAY?: There is much positive going on with the Baltimore Orioles, then the front office does something downright dumb.
The Orioles suspended TV play-by-play announcer Kevin Brown for stating a fact. He pointed out on a pre-game show how awful the Orioles have been against Tampa Bay In Tropicana Field. And that’s a fact, Jack.
In a non-inflammatory manner before a July 23 O’s-Rays game in Tropicana Field, Brow mentioned that the Orioles had already won more games at Tropicana Field in 2023 than it had in the previous three seasons combined.
And to top it off, it was reported that the same information was on the Orioles pre-game media notes.
This, though, should come as no surprise. This is the same organization that fired broadcaster Jon Miller, now with the San Francisco Giants.
Said New York Mets broadcaster Gary Cohen,”Let me just say one thing to Baltimore Orioles management — you draped yourself in humiliation when you fired Jon Miller and you’re doing it again. And if you don’t want Kevin Brown, there are 29 other teams who do.”
—THE BIG 130?: What in the name of Amos Alonzo Stagg is going on in college football. Schools are switching conferences like Tommy John changes Tommy John underwear.
UCLA, Southern California, Oregon and Washington fled the Pac-12 for the Big Ten. Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah bolted the Pac-12 for the Big 12
Suddenly, the Pac-12 is the Pac-4 with Stanford, California, Oregon State and Washington State still there. . .for now. Rumors have Stanford, Oregon State and Cal switching to the Atlantic Coast Conference. Will they change the name to the Atlantic-Pacific Coast Conference.
There are 130 universities playing FBS Division I football. Why not get it over with and make it one big conference, The Big 130? Yes, even invited Washington State from the Pac-1.