OBSERVATIONS: Some Votto Facts, Figures And Folderol

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, nodding in my agreement with somebody who wrote: “I used to be able to do a cartwheel, but now I tip over putting on my underwear.”

—JOEY THE JAY: It was good to see Pal Joey get a chance with his hometown Toronto Blue Jays. And now it is up to him to make the team. . .and he believes he can and said, “I think I can still bang.”

Ichiro Suzuki, known world-wide as simply Ichiro, is a certain first-ballot electee to the Hall of Fame next year. He will be the first Japanese-born player to make both the Japanase Hall of Fame and the U.S. Hall of Fame.

So how does he compare to Joey Votto? Yes, Ichiro has 935 more hits and 1,989 more plate appearances.

But everybody knows that Votto was a get-on-base robot, getting on base by hook, crook and always by the book.

So consider this: Votto could go 0 for 1,340 and still have a better on base average than Ichiro. Votto drew 1,365 walks to Ichiro’s 647.


And this. Votto’s career on base percentage with runners in scoring position is .471. Only three players in MLB history own higher OBP’s with runners in scoring position — Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Barry Bonds.


—JOEY TO THE WORLD: Speaking of Joey Votto, he took his first at bat Sunday for the Toronto Blue Jays. A 23-year-old minor leaguer from Brazil named Eric Pardinho struck him out.

“I just struck out Joey Gallo,” he exclaimed.

Uh, wrong Joey, kid. And it wasn’t Joey Wendle, either.

—MASTERFUL MADDUX: Another gem from my top-notch (and unpaid) correspondent Jeff Singleton:

From 1995 to 2003, Atlanta Braves pitcher Greg Maddux had 8,005 pitches called balls out of the strike zone by umpires, who probably missed some. In that span, Maddux faced 8,025 batters. That means he averaged about one called ball to each batter.

Maddux was his own human Control Center.

—STILL LOOKING: Trevor Bauer remains unsigned but, like Joey Votto was, he is still begging for a chance, any chance.

He appeared over the weekend, wearing an Asian Breeze jersey, on a distant back field of the Los Angeles Dodgers spring training complex. He faced a gaggle of Dodgers minor leaguers with no scouts or club officials watching.

He dominated for three innings — four strikeouts and he retired the last eight, even telling a few hitters what pitch was coming.”

Afterwards, he said, “Hopefully, people will remember I’m stiill one of the best pitchers in the world.” (And there is nothing wrong with his confidence. . .or is that ego?)

—NOT THE GREATEST: Muhamad Ali was forever telling everybody, including monks in Tibet, “I am the greatest.” Did you know not even he believed it. He once told a Miami News sports writer that he did it just to sell tickets.

“I never thought I was the greatest. I just said I was,” he said. “How would I know who was the greatest fighter? I don’t know what would have happened if I fought Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey, Rocky Marciano or Jack Johnson.”

Since they are all dead, Ali probably would score a TKO in the third round.

The one year I worked for the Detroit Free Press, I rode in a car with Ali. A large group of people was gathered at a street corner. Ali jumped from the car and right away yelled, “I am the greatest.”

A little girl, about 11 or 12, quickly said, “You can’t be the greatest. God is the greatest.”

Ali was struck silent. . .for about 30 seconds.

—QUOTE: From former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes: “Earnie Shavers hit me harder than any other fighter, even Mike Tyson. He hit me and I was face down on the canvas hearing saxophonist Jimmy Tillis.” (Personally, I’d rather hear the sax played by Charlie Parker, John Coltrane or Stan Getz, as long as Shavers doesn’t hit me.)

—ZIG-ZAGGING AWAY: When San Francisco is scheduled to play Gonzaga, the Dons should walk on the floor waving white surrender flags, then turn around, get dressed in their civvies and go have dinner at Scoma’s in Sausalito.

When the Zags beat them Monday night, 89-77, it was the 30th straight time. San Francisco hasn’t beaten Gonzaga since Christopher Columbus was in the crow’s nest of the Santa Maria.

Gonzaga led by one point at halftime, then went on a 25-10 run in 6 1/2 minutes and built a 63-47 lead under a barrage of three-pointers.

Former University of Dayton guard Mongolian Mike Sharavjamts transferred to San Francisco and is a starter.

—A REAL WORDSMITH: One of the many sports writers I admired was Dallas columnist Blackie Sherrod. Of him and Jim Murray I always said, “I know all those words they write, I just can’t put them together they way they do.”

Here is how Sherrod described a Reggie Jackson (Yankees) at bat against Bob Welch (Dodgers) in the 1978 World Series — ninth inning, two outs, one run LA lead, two men on base:

“Reggie Jackson takes fast balls from young right handers and puts cream and sugar on them. Jackson’s first swing was beautiful. The night was bruised. The baseball wasn’t.”

The count went to 3-and-2 and Sherrod wrote: “The climactic fast ball came. Jackson’s swing caused 12-foot waves off Malibu Beach. It did not alter the course of the oncoming baseball.”

And the mighty Reggie had struck out.

—CREIGHTON TO DAYTON: For the past seven years, ESPN has picked eight teams that could win the NCAA tournament before it begins. And they are seven-for-seven — One of their eight picks has won each year.

And what do they think of the Dayton Flyers? They are one of 20 close-but-no-cigar teams.

“With DaRon Holmes III and an elite cadre of 3-point artisans headed up by Koby Brea, the Flyers will be one of the best shooting teams in the field of 68. Still, while Dayton has the potential to beat any opponent, the fact that this group is the No. 3 seed in this week’s Atlantic 10 tournament additionally suggests Dayton itself can be bested.”

Well, if they check past history, ANY team in the field can be ‘bested.’

So which teams are ESPN’s Elite Eight? UConn, Arizona, Creighton, Duke, Houston, Kentucky, Purdue, Tennessee.

Creighton? They got the ‘ton’ right. But see if the Flyers can replace that ‘Creigh’ with ‘Day.’

—MAILING IT IN: From Tom Melzoni, a great friend living the Life of Riley in Sarasota, God’s Country: “With the price of gas, my mailman is working from home. He calls me to tell me how much my bills are.”

—PLAYLIST NO. 29: All songs from the 1960s that were not included in the previous 28 playlists:

Wouldn’t It Be Nice (The Beach Boys), Ring Of Fire (Johnny Cash), I Can See For Miles (The Who), Hello Walls (Faron Young), The First Cut Is The Deepest (P.P. Arnold), Big Bad John (Jimmy Dean), 96 Tears (? & The Mysterians), Okie From Muskogee (Merle Haggard), It’s The Same Old Song (The Four Tops).

Wings Of A Dove (Ferlin Husky), Walk Away Renee (The Left Bank), Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right (Bob Dylan), Where Did Our Love Go? (The Supremes), Then He Kissed Me (The Supremes), There Goes My Everything (Englebert Humperdinck, Elvis Presley).

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