OBSERVATIONS: ‘The True Creature’ Was a Cincinnati Reds ‘True Pleasure’

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave before a four-day getaway to a cabin in The Great Smoky Mountains and I’ll add to the smoke with some cigars while sitting on the deck watching for bears.

—SIGN HERE, PLEASE: Pete Rose was a master at coming up with nicknames. He called David Concepion ‘Bozo’ because of some of the clownish outfits the great shortstop sometimes wore.

And when he managed, he had a pitcher he called ‘The True Creature.’ His name was Ron Robinson and he wore tee-shirts that Rose had made up with Robinson’s face on them with ‘True Creature’ emblazoned on the front.

Robinson, a redhead, made his debut in 1984 and he struck out St. Louis catcher Darrell Porter, his first MLB strikeout. Robinson sent the baseball to the visitor’s clubhouse requesting that Porter sign it, which he did.

Six days later, Porter homered off Robinson and sent that ball to the Reds’ clubhouse, asking for Robby’s signature on it. He obliged.

In 1988, Tom Browning pitched a perfect game and beccame famous. Five months earlier, in May, Robinson was one strike away from beating Browning to perfection . He retired 26 straight and had a 3-2 count on Montreal pinch-hitter Wallace Johnson, one pitch from instant immortality.

Johnson blooped a soft opposite-field single to left field and Robby was back to just being ‘The True Creature.’

“It definitely would have made me richer, more famous, the first in Reds history,” said Robinson.

—OUT AND OUT WRONG: There is no doubt that Elly De La Cruz’s mad dash for second base on a medium-depth fly ball to right field Tuesday night was just that. . .maddening.

He tagged up and tried to take second and was thrown out, snuffing a possible rally in the Reds only threat during a 3-0 loss.

It was fundamentals at its lowest common denominator, what they call a rookie mistake. Clearly, the 21-year-old is overly impressed with his own speed.

But, what if he had made it? Broadcaster John Sadek would have gone bonkers with his high-decibel screaming about what a bold, wonderful play it was. And those on social media calling for the Reds to bench him or send him back to AAA would be heaping plaudits on him.

When he stole home with the pitcher holding the ball, everybody compared him to Ty Cobb or Jackie Robinson. Wonder what they would have said had he been thrown out?

In baseball, successs is praised, failure brings out Rip City. Just sayin’.

—QUOTE: From Hall of Fame pitcher/broadcaster Dizzy Dean: “The doctor X-rayed my head and it showed nothing.”

—DOWN ON THE FARM: There is much talk about the Reds’ farm system and how it is stuffed with budding and maturing major-league players.

MLB Pipeline is not that impressed. While rating the 30 teams it has the Reds near the top, but it also rates three teams in the National League Central ahead of the Reds.

It has the Baltimore Orioles at the top, followed by Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and the Chicago Cubs as two, three and four. The Reds? Fifth.

Their bow to the Reds was, “They have a strong quintet of Top 100 prospects and a deep system. The trades they made at last year’s (2022) deadline continues to help. Add in the overall 2023 draft class and they’re still one of the best in the game.”

But not as good as Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and Chicago???

—FIRST THINGS FIRST: Who are the best offensive players for the Atlanta Braves? Easy one, right? That would be Ronald Acuna, Jr., Matt Olson, Ozzie Albies and Austin Riley.

Guess what they have in common? All four have played every game this season, 117 straight. Obviously the Braves believe in solidarity and not so much analytics.

It ends now, temporarily,with Albies suffering a minor injury.

I haven’t forgotten catcher and Centerville native Sean Murphy. He is awesome, but he and Travis d’Arnaud share time, giving the Braves the best 1-2 catching punch in the game.

Opposing pitchers are learning to pitch-and-duck against the Braves in the first inning. They average almost a run every first inning (0.99), the most since computers were born. Their slugging percentage in the first inning is a little more than .600.

—THE GOTHAM BLUES: Followers of the New York Mets and New York Yankees are encouraged to stay away fron the Empire State Building. No jumpers, please.

Their teams, the Mets and Yankees, are a combined 37 1/2 games out of first place with no hope on the horizon for ever a wild card invite.

Both teams play as if fundamentals is a curse word. They put a capital ‘M’ on mistakes.

Not even the mid-season hiring of Sean Casey as batting instructor has helped the Yankees, last place and 14 games behind. It is not a stretch to fear that manager Aaron Boone sits on an ice bag because he is on the hot seat.

—MONEY DOESN’T TALK: Speaking of abject failures, how about the San Diego Padres? The talent-rich Friars were supposed to give the Los Angeles Dodgers a hand-to-hand combat argument for the National League West title.

Instead, the Padres are closer to the last-place Colorado Rockies than the first-place Dodgers. It seems to be a team of players seeking individual statistics instead of players seeking team goals.
And the Padres are an abysmal 6-19 in one-run games. They’ve suffered 10 walk-off losses and have only one themselves, they’ve been shut out 10 times, blown 29 leads and their longest winning streak is three.

Now that’s money well misspent.

The three highest payrolls to start the season were the New York Mets ($344 milllion, the New York Yankees ($27 million) and the Padres ($252 million). All three own losing records and all three are likely to miss the playoffs.

On the flip side of a very thin coin, the Baltimore Orioles are 28th ($70 million) and the Tampa Bay Rays are 27th ($79 million.)

—QUOTE: Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra on packing to leave a hotel room: “The towels were so thick there I could hardly close my suitcase.”

—IT’S A SWING AND A MYTH: It is accepted as gospel that when Sparky Anderson managed the Cincinnati Reds in 1975 and 1976 he wrote down the same lineup in the same order game after after game.

That would be (if true), Pete Rose, Ken Griffey, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, Johnny Bench, George Foster, Dave Concepcion and Cesar Geronimo — The Great Eight.

Hate to be a bubble-burster, but that is nothing more than urban legend. From May, 1975 through the end of the 1976 season, The Great Eight was the starting lineup only 63 times.

In 1975, Anderson used 103 different batting orders and in 1976 it was 93 different batting orders.

And as Casey Stengel always said, “You could look it up.”

—REGURGITATION: Speaking pf Sparking Anderson, during the baseball winter meetings in Honolulu in 1978, the Reds traded minor-league first baseman Dave Revering and $1 million to the Oakland A’s for pitcher Vida Blue.

Blue’s photo and bio even appeared in the Reds’ 1979 media guide. But Blue would never throw a pitch for the Reds. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn stopped the trade and said, “It was not in the best interests of the game.”

And to that, the always blunt and honest Sparky said, “If I hear (Kuhn) say just once more he’s doing something for the bettermen of baseball, I’m going to throw up.”

3 thoughts on “OBSERVATIONS: ‘The True Creature’ Was a Cincinnati Reds ‘True Pleasure’”

  1. Listen to Lance McAlister’s podcast when it comes up tomorrow. He has an outstanding tribute to Friedl about 1/3 of the way thru the Thurs. show.

  2. No tears for the Mets, Yankees, Padres, or the Cardinals (although not mentioned). Nice to see why ticket & concession $$$ are so darn high.

    Someone on the roster (not David Bell) needs to take Elly aside & introduce his “Come to Jesus” moment. There’s a difference between Bobby Cox benching Andruw Jones for lackadaisical play & getting Elly’s attention for making stupid decisions on the field. Yes, his initial start was fun & impressive. Now he’s simply doing stupid stuff. Jonathan India, you’re name continues to be tossed out there as such a clubhouse leader.

    Finally, Bowie Kuhn showed how much he hated the Reds…. specifically since he knew of the Reds’ dominance in the 70s. Wonder what he would’ve done had the Reds traded Pete, Johnny, Tony or Little Joe to Oakland (who won 3 straight rings in the 70s).

    Cheers Hal. Keep the articles coming!

Leave a Reply

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