OBSERVATIONS: From Finding Ways To Win To Finding Ways To Lose

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from ‘The Village Sea House’ in St. Simons Island, GA., where our theme song the last three days has been Brook Benton’s ‘Rainy Night In Georgia.’

—IT’S ABOUT FINDING WAYS: There is a plain and simple explanation about the current plight of the Cincinnati Reds in comparing last year’s team to this year’s team.

My great friend and vacation compadre Mike Snider said it succinctly: “Last year the Reds always found a way to win. This year’s team always finds a way to lose.”

And one way they find ways to lose is using Alexis Diaz as the closer, a guy who lately can’t even close a door.

Since last September, Diaz owns a 9.68 earned run averages. In 21 appearances, he has given up 19 earned runs, 20 hits, 18 walks and four hit batsmen over just 17 2/3 innings.

Once again, I propose Hunter Greene as the closer. . .and Elly De La Cruz for center field.

—ELLY IS CRUZ-IN: As most Reds fans are saying these days, “This team is difficult to watch.”

Yes, it certainly is and a huge turnaround when bother the season everybody was saying, “This team is so much fun to watch.”

There remains, right now at least, still a reason to watch and be entertained by Elly De La Cruz. One never knows what they might see from EDLC.

For example, he stole 25 bases in the Reds’ first 38 games. Only eight players in the modern era have swiped 25 or more bases in the first 38 games.

The names are the usual suspects: Kenny Lofton (the last before Elly to do it in 1998), Rickey Henderson, Vince Coleman, Lou Brock, Alan Wiggins, Tim Raines.

None of those, though, could hit 430-foot home runs or throw a ball 106.9 miles an hour, the hardest throw by a fielder in MLB history. . .even if it did go over the first baseman’s head.

—THEY ARE A-PEEL-ING: What professional baseball team has the most followers on social media?

The New York Yankees? No. The Los Angeles Dodgerss? No. The Chicago Cubs? No.

It’s the Savannah Bananas, the Harlem Globetrotters of baseball. The Bananas are so a-peel-ing because they have a pitcher and batter who plays on stilts, a player who hits with his bat on fire, a player who pitches between his legs and behind his back and after doing a somersault and a player who bats blindfolded.

—ROSE, THE ALL-STAR: Another little-known fact about the many baseball facets involving Pete Rose:

Not only did he play in 16 All-Star games, the National League won 15 of those games, including the 1970 game in Riverfront Stadium.

That was the game Rose scored the winning run in the 12th inning by knocking American League catcher Ray Fosse nearly into the Twilight Zone.

The loss was in Detroit’s Tiger Stadium in 1971, a 6-4 American League win. But don’t blame Pete. He didn’t bat in that game.

During one of those All-Star games, Rose said, “I don’t have the average thirty-eight year-old’s body. I know my face looks old, but if you slid head first for sixteen years you’d be ugly too.”

—SPIT AND SHINE: Another baseball book on my must-read lis that is longer than Nadine’s to-do list for me when I want to read:

‘Big Ed Walsh,’ who was 40-15 with a 1.43 earned run average in 1908. Of course that was during the dead ball era and batter’s who made contact also got a shower because Big Ed was a spitball pitcher when spitters were legal.

Walsh is the last 40-game winner in the modern era (he did it twice). He is also the last to pitch 400 innings in one season. He still owns the lowest career earned run average at 1.82.

He pitched for the Chicago White Sox in the 2006 World Series and struck out 12 Chicago Cubs in one game, striking out at least one batter in every inning. Only one other pitcher has struck out at least one batter in every inning in a World Series — Bob Gibson in 1968.

Now you don’t even have to read the book. . .but there is much more fascinating stuff.

No pitcher ever again will win 40 games (maybe not even 20) and no pitcher will come close to 400 innings. A pitcher these days who pitches 200 innings is lauded as an iron man.

—WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS: Congratulations are in order to the University of Dayton baseball team.

The Flyers — they prefer Flyboys — won the Atlantic 10 Conference regular season championship, the first in UD history.

—BASEBALL MUSIC: Asking for a stand-up friend:

“Why do they play ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’ in the seventh inning when we’re already there?”

Don’t know that one, but I had a Latino friend who was impressed after attending his first baseball game and told me, “It was so great. Before the game, everybody stood up and sang to me, ‘Jose can you see?’”

—QUOTABLES: From some famous baseball people:

—From former Kansas City Royals star Geroge Brett when asked about his ailment: “My hemhoroids are all behind me.”

—From Bob Uecker, baseball’s best humorist: “I knew when my baseball career was over when my baseball card came out with no picture.”

—From former .400 hitter Rogers Hornsby: “I don’t want to play golf. When I hit a ball, I want somebody else to chase it.”

—From legendary broadcaster Harry Caray: “What does a momma bear on the pill have in common with the World Series? No Cubs.”

—From former zany pitcher Dizzy Dean after getting hit in the head by a line drive: “They X—Rayed my head and found nothing.”
—PLAYLIST NO. 52: Some songs I heard on Saint Simons Island:

We Can Work It Out (The Beatles), To All The Girls I’ve Left Behind (Willie Nelson), Up On The Roof (The Drifters), You’re No Good (Linda Ronstandt), Just One Look (Doris Troy), I’m Not In Love (10CC), On The Dock Of The Bay (Otis Redding), Sister Golden Hair (America).

The Wonder Of You (Elvis Presley), You May Be Right (Billy Joel), Fire Island (Bob Seger), Happy Together (The Turtles), You’re The One That I Want (John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John), We Don’t Talk Any More (Cliff Richard), Torn Between Two Lovers (Mary MacGregor).

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