OBSERVATIONS: Greene ‘Splitting’ Time With A New Pitch

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, still enjoying the down-the-stretch college basketball season, but happy to see some baseball home runs as well as some swings-and-misses, especially from Hunter Greene.

—GREENE DOES THE ‘SPLIT:’ Hunter Greene, seeking to add a third or fourth pitch to his fastball-slider repertoire, unveiled his new split-fingered pitch Sunday afternoon and a split-squad Los Angeles Angels team didn’t even get a split decision.

Greene pitched 1 2/3s breezy and effortless scoreless innins and gave up one hit while striking out four in his spring debut during a 9-4 Cincinnati Reds victory at Goodyear Ballpark.

“I just want to have an equalizer,” Greene said about his new toy. “The splitter was fantastic today. It was unbelievable. So I’ll continue to work on it and get it ready for Opening Day and the rest of the season.”

Greene was supposed to pitch twoi innings but hit his pitch-count with two outs in the second. He had a long first inning because he walked two and struck out three.

Spencer Steer made his debut in left field and didn’t forget his bat while breaking in his outfielder’s glove.

Stuart Fairchild and Luke Maile also said, “Pay attention to us.”

Steer, battiing leadoff, went 2 for 3 with an RBI. Fairchild, playing right field, was a perfect 3 for 3 with an RBI double. And catcher Luke Maile crushed a three-run home run as the Reds constructed a 5-0 lead after five innings.

Outfieder Conner Capel entered mid-game and was 2 for 2 with a home run. The Reds signed him as a free agent after he played 32 games last season for the Oakland A’s.

Capel’s father, Mike Capel, pitched two seasons in the majors for the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee and Houston.

—KKKKKKKKKKKKKKK: Remember the name Hagen Smith. And you can be certain the Cincinnati Reds have a thick dossier on him tucked in a file cabinet.

Smith is a left-handed pitcher at the University of Arkansas and what he did in a game last week was, well, astonishing.

Facing No. 7 ranked Oregon State, the first 15 outs he recorded were all strikeouts, 12 swinging.

He pitched one more inning and struck out two more — 17 strikeouts out of the 18 outs he recorded while giving up no runs and three hits in his six innings.

Astonishing? You bet. Even more outlandish is that in his high school senior year in Bullock, TX., he threw seven no-hitters. Seven!

Can the Reds sign him right now? Guess not.

—A BALL FOR YOGI: On June 11, 1962, on the day they handed me a diploma from Kent State University and told me, “Get lost,” Yogi Berra stepped into the batter’s box for his 2,000th game.

Umpire Jim Honochick asked Baltimore pitcher Dick Hall for the baseball and he handed it to the New York Yankees catcher.

Berra stuck that ball in his back pocket as Honochick tossed a new ball to Hall. Hall’s first pitch with that ball ended up in the right field bleachers, a game-winning home run for Yogi.

—QUOTE: From Yogi Berra on Bill Dickey teaching him the finer arts of catching: “Bill is learning me his experience.”

—MAKING THE GRADE: Why is that school grades are A, B, C, D and F? Where is E? Why skip E? Is it because people believe E is for excellence?

I know, know baseball folks. It is because E stands for error.

—A REBUTTAL: A quote from former University of Georgia football coach Wally Butts: “An atheist is somebody who lives in Alabama and doesn’t believe in Bear Bryant.” (Or, to update that quote. . .doesn’t believe in Nick Saban.)

—TREADMILL DRUDGERY: Nadine forced me out of my La-Z-Boy recliner in The Man Cave Sunday morning, marched me downstairs and forced me on to the treadmill. Geez, I forgot it was there.

To make the time fly by, I turned on the TV to ESPN. And for the first six minutes and 50 seconds there was an uniinterrupted stream of commercials. Time dragged. . .and so did I.

—QUOTES & WISEQUACKS: Or as Yogi Berra once said, “I didn’t say everything I said:”

From former Cincinnati Reds infielder Phil Gagliano on being a high school teammate of Tim McCarver’s: “We were the Gold Dust Twins. He got the gold and I got the dust.”

—THE NUMBERS GAME: As pointed out by Matt Steinmann: Hall of Famer Chipper Jones reached base 4,256 times during his career. Pete Rose had 4,256 hits.

—Sports columnist Red Smith reported in 1972 that 40 years previously, in 1932, Art Rooney purchased the Pittsburgh Steelers for $2,500.

That’s $52,500 on today’s market, but the Steelers are now worth $4.65 billion.

—IT’S BLOOD MONEY: A nosebleed ticket to the 1978 Super Bowl in the New Orleans Super Bowl cost $30. To get a nosebleed ticket to this year’s Super Bowl in Las Vegas it cost every drop of blood from all the people in the Bellagio casino. . .$5,475.

—A PUFF OF SMOKE: As I sat in the Hara Arena press box in the late 1960s, Dayton Gems general manager Lefty McFadden plopped down next to me.

One could never see McFadden’s lips because they were always blocked by a fat cigar. He pullled one out of his jacket pocket and handed it to me. . .my first cigar.

It’s 60-some years since that day and I can probably count on both hands the day I haven’t puffed at least one cigar — in Lefty’s honor, of course.

And did you know that the Dayton Gems were the first professional hockey team in North America to make helmets on their players mandatory, even before the NHL did it?

—PLAYLIST NO. 24: Is there a limit? Nope. The Eagless say, “Take It To The Limit.”

Tears On My Pillow (Little Anthony), The River (Bruce Springsteen), I Just Want To Be Your Everything (Andy Gibb), Only You (The Platters), Danger Zone (Kenny Loggins), Margaritaville (Jimmy Buffet), Ball And Chain (Social Distortion), Refections (The Supremes).

Longer (Dan Fogelberg), Somebody To Love (Jefferson Airplane), Where Do Broken Hearts Go? (Whitney Houston), Got My Heart Set On You (George Harrison), Simply Irresistible (Robert Palmer), I Won’t Let Go (Rascal Flatts), We Didn’t Start The Fire (Billy Joel),

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