OBSERVATIONS: Reds Explain Strategy (Sort Of)

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave keeping cozy in my new pea coat, realizing it won’t be needed in 22 days when Cincinnati Reds pitchers and catchers report to Goodyear, Az. on Valentine’s Day. Hey, ya gotta have heart.

—STILL TOO MANY: Cincinnati Reds fans remain perplexed why the team invested $45 million on infieder Jeimer Candelario when the team’s infield is more crowded than a circus clown car.

New general manager Brent Meador tried to explain it on an MLB podcast this week. Tried.

“A veteran bat was on our list (in the offsseason) to continue to try to lengthen our lineup,” he said. “The goal was to put a bat in the middle of our lineup. I don’t know if it’s a perfect fit and we’ll see how it all plays out.

“On paper it does look like we have one too many infielders. Candelario can play third, he can play first,” he added. “We have (Noel) Marte working back from a hamstring injury, (Matt) McLain working back from an oblique injury. So you just never know.”

No, you sure don’t.

“And we knew going into the offseason we’re a real young team, so we needed to bring some guys in to stabilize some spots and take some pressure off the young guys,” he said.

So that’s why they brought in Candelario and pitchers Nick Martinez. Frankie Mantos and Brent Suter?

“It’ the character, the makeup, who fits in our clubhouse, who can help show our young guys the way,” said Meador. “That’s where we feel strongly about the guys we brought in. All those guys check the boxes.”

—WRONG KIND OF TRIPLES: Brooks Robinson was known for his fast hands on defense at thrd base and his cement feet on the basepaths. He hols a dubious MLB record — most times to hit into triple plays (four).

“I have only one speed and it has never changed,” he said. “That speed is very slow.”

On defense, though, they called him the Human Hoover and he was revered and respected by all.

Said former San Diego third baseman Tim Flannery, “They want me to play third base like Brooks Robinson, but I play it more like Mel Brooks.
—A MOVIN’ MAN: Mike Morgan played in more MLB cities than Gone With the Wind. He pitched for 12 different teams, including the Cincinnati Reds, and wore a major league uniform for 25 years over four decades.

Asked how he survived so long, Morgan said, “Work hard, eat right, sleep right. . .and thank god there are 30 teams.”

When I asked him one day before he was to face the Chicago Cubs, one of his former teams, if that gave him extra incentive, he said, “No, not really. Nearly every team I face is my ex-team.”

Until late in his career, he was a starter and survived all those seasons despite never winning more than 14 games (twice). And he finished with a 141-186 record with a 4.23 earned run average.

His teams, in order: Oakland, New York Yankees, Toronto, Seattle, Baltimore, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs (2), St. Louis, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Texas and Arizona.

Clearly, the guy couldn’t keep a job.

—EXPENSIVE SWEATER: This never happens to you or me. in 2015, a couple was shopping in a Goodwill Outlet store. Not even a Goodwill Store, a Goodwill Outlet store.

They found a black sweater with ‘West Point’ in gold across the chest. They bought it for 59 cents. Remember that 59 cents.

When they got it home, they found a name written on the inside of the neck. The name? Vince Lombardi.

They had it chemically checked and sure enough the material was vintage 1953, the year Vince Lombardi was a football coach for Army at West Point. The sweater was put up at auction and sold for $44,000.

The sweater is now in the possesssion of Beavercreek’s Jack Giambrone, the world’s No. 1 expert of Lombardi, the famed Green Bay Packers coach. Giambrone also is the world’s number one collector of Lombardi memorabilia.

And he plans to donate the sweater to the West Point Sports Hall of Fame.

Giambrone recounted a great tale about the first Super Bowl in 1967, won by the Packers, 35-10, over the Kansas City Chiefs (The Chiefs didn’t have Patrick Mahomes then). After the second half kickoff, it was revealed that television was still on commercial break and missed the kickoff.

The network requested a do-over, kick it again. And they did it. Said Giambrone, “That’s something that has never happened again.”

As an aside, guess who Kansas City beat to get to the Super Bowl? The Buffalo Bills (The Bills didn’t have Josh Allen then).

—FITS THE ‘BILL’: Former New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick was given a second interview with the Atlanta Falcons.

A second interview? Why does Bill Belichick even need a first interview? He is Bill B-e-l-i-c-h-i-c-k.

But it is understandable why Belichick agreed to a second interview. It was conducted on a yacht in The Virgin Islands.

—CZECH IT OUT: Asking for a friend of a friend’s second cousin: If Czecb Republic native Vit Krejci of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks has a double-double, is it czech and double czech?

—A ‘BRAVE’ QUESTION: Tyler ‘Rattboy’ Wessel posted a wonderful trivia question on social media: “Who was the only pitcher to win games against the Boston Braves, Milwaukee Braves and the Atlanta Braves?”

It sent me researching. First I checked on the franchise’s movements. The Boston Braves became the Milwaukee Braves in 1953 and the Millwaukee Braves became the Atlanta Braves in 1966.

Now it was time to search for pitchers with longevity during those time periods. And I found him.

Answer: Robin Roberts. His career began in 1948 and he beat Boston 12 times while with the Philadelphia Phillies. Then he beat Milwaukee while still with the Phillies 21 times.

His last year was 1966, Atlanta’s first year. Roberts pitched briefly that season for the Chicago Cubs and beat Atlanta once.

Oh, yeah. . .too much time on my hands.

During his last season, Roberts was running in the outfield before a game when Bob Gibson approached and bluntly said, “Why don’t you quit? It’s such a shame that you are ruining a great career by just trying to hang on.”

Roberts did quit and said, “Years later, I saw Gibson trying to do the same thing.”

Roberts was once asked about his greatest All-Star thrill and he said, “When Mickey Mantle bunted with the wind blowing out in Cincinnati’s Crosley Field.”

—QUOTE QUOCIENT: By popular request, more of my favorite baseball quotes to put us in the mood for spring training, less than a month away. . .and don’t ask, “Who’s counting?” I am.

—From Reds manager Davey Johnson, talking about relief pitcher Rob Dibble: “I tell him something and it goes in one ear, hits something hard and bounces back out.”

—From Johnny Pesky, for whom the right field foul pole is the Pesky Pole in Fenway Park: “When you win, you eat better, sleep better, your beer tastes better and your wife looks like Gina Lolobrigida.”

—From the quote machine, Reggie Jackson: “The only way I’m going to win a Gold Glove is with a can of spray paint.”

—From Mookie Wilson, when asked why he and his wife got married in a ballpark: “My wife wanted a big diamond.”

—From spitballl pitcher Gaylord Perry, teasing Los Angeles manager Tommy Lasorda about always saying he bled Dodger blue: “Wait until Tommy meets the Lord and sees that He’s wearing pinstripes.”

—From my sportswriting hero, Jim Murray: “The last time Willie Mays dropped a pop fly he had a baby rattle in one hand and a bonnet on his head.”

—From pitcher Don Sutton, when he was accused of using a ‘foreign substance’ on the ball: “Not true at all, Vaseline is manufactured right here in the United States.”

—From infielder Bob Aspromonte, who once was part of a Jim Murray line describing the California Angels double play combination as, “From Fregosi to Aspromonte to Avalon Boulevard,: “I’ve heard of guys going 0 for 15 or 0 for 25, but I went 0-for-July.”

—From manager Gene Mauch, talking about playboy pitcher Bo Belinsky: “I wish I had 10 pitchers with Bo Belinsky’s stuff and none with his head.”

—From Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver: “There are only two places in this league, first place and no place.”
—PLAYLIST NO. 10: It’s country time:

He Stopped Lovin’ Her Today (George Jones), Smoky Mountain Rain (Ronnie Milsap), Kiss An Angel Good Morning (Charley Pride), Behind Closed Doors (Charley Rich), If Tomorrrow Never Comes (Garth Brooks), I Hope You Dance (Lee Ann Womack).

I Walk The Line (Johnny Cash), Forever And Ever, Amen (Randy Travis), I Will Always Love You (Dolly Parton), I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (Hank Williams), Stand By Your Man (Tammy Wynette), Ring of Fire (Johnny Cash), The Most Beautiful Girl (Charlie Rich), Hello Darlin’ (Conway Twitty), I Fall To Pieces (Hank Cochrane).

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