OBSERVATIONS: Reds Remain Last, But Not That Far Down

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, loving the never-ending stream of baseball books that keep arriving and it seems if a player doesn’t have a book about him on the shelf, he didn’t accomplish anything.

—RED ALERT: Will Benson said it best the other dapy and he said it with a broad smile: “Don’t let the Reds get hot, man.”

Right now, if you touch about any bat used by a member of the Reds you get your fingers burned.

Yes, after a 5-1 trip to Chicago and Denver and a four-game winning streak, the Reds remain in last place in the National League Central.

It may not stay that way for long. The National League is as weak as tea after one dip of a tea bag.

Of 15 teams in the National League, only four are over .500. The Philadelphia Phillies are great. The Los Angeles Dodgers are great. The Atlanta Braves were great but have lost their best pitcher and best player to injury. The Milwaukee Brewers have been a surprise team, but their party could end any moment.

The rest? Good to mediocre to bad. . .at best.

Yes, the Reds are last, but as of Wednesday they were only two games behind the second place Chicago Cubs and seven benind division-leading Milwaukee.

Excitement over the 5-1 trip can be tempered a bit because it was against the 31-31 Cubs, who have struggled lately, and the 21-40 Colorado Rockies.

But the Reds did what they had to do, beat the bums. And their next four are at home against the Cubs, an opportunity to do real damage.

As Benson said, “Don’t let the Reds get hot, man.”

—ONLY IN BASEBALL: Former Baltimore/New York Mets manager Buck Showalter was the analyst for a game this week on the MLB network.

When an outfielder had difficulty catching a fly ball that he lost in the lights, Showalter sagely said, “You know, baseball is the only game where a defensive players can lose a ball in the lights or the sun. Can’t happen in the NHL, the NBA, the NFL or soccer. Only in baseball.”

That’s very astute, Mr. Showalter. Here are some other things that only can happen in baseball:

^^^Both teams score at the same place, home plate.

^^^Every field has different dimensions.

^^^The defense is always in control of the ball.

^^^A player can’t re-enter the game after he is removed.

^^^There is no time limit and a game could last into infinity.

—UNBREAKABLE RECORDS: They say records are made to be broken and I proved that as a kid by breaking many of my dad’s 78 r.p.m. Crazy Otto phonograph records.

Baseball is a game of statistics and records, enough records to fill the Library of Congress. There are some I believe will never be broken.

***Cal Ripken Jr.’s 2,637 straight games played without a day off. (Most players these days can’t play a week without a day off and so many are platooned.)

***Nolan Ryan’s 5,714 strikeouts and seven no-hitters. (Some pitcher might eventually walk 5,714, except Angel Hernandez is no longer ummpiring. Seven no-hitters? As they say in Brooklyn, “Fuh-get about it.”)

***Walter Johnson’s 110 shutouts. (Few pitchers these days make it through 100 starts without being interrupted for Tommy John surgery.)

***Rickey Henderson’s 1,406 stolen bases. (Elly De La Cruz is only 1,339 away.)

***Ichiro Suzuki’s 262 hits (2002) in one season. (Pete Rose, who had 10 200-hit seasons, doesn’t play any more.)

—MORE RUTHIAN STUFF: Another gem from Jeff Singleton and the only thing I can pay him for these is a compliment.

In 1920, just about the time the live baseball was introduced, Babe Ruth knew how to take care of those jumpy baseballs. He hit 54 home runs.

But how about everybody else? Not so much. Ruth hit more home runs than every team in the American League that year.

It was Ruth 54, the St. Louis Browns 50, the Philadelphia A’s 44, the Chicago White Sox 37, the Washington Senators 36, the Cleveland Indians 35, the Detroit Tigers 30, the Boston Red Sox 22.

In the National League, only one team hit more home runs than The Bambino’s 54. The Philadephia Phillies hit 64.

—ON THE FAST TRACK: It is good to see good people do good. You probably have to be a deep-dive Reds fan to remember the name Kristopher Negron.

He was a utility player from 2012 to 2015, a cerebral guy who played everywhere and played hard and finished games, if he played, with the dirtiest uniform.

After the Reds, he played for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Seattle Mareiners and the Los Angeles Dodgers and then retired into coachng and managing.

And it’s no surprise he is doing well. He managed Seattle’s Triple-A affiliate, the Tacoma Rainiers, and recently was named first base coach for the Mariners.

Look for him to nail down a major league managing job before long.

—ONWARD, JAMES: We’re all suckers for a good Cinderella Story, even if the glass slipper doesn’t fit, right?

James Westbrook didn’t arrive in Boston in a pumpkin carraige but he would have walked from Missouri to get there.

The 28-year-old Westbrook spent 11 years riding buses in the minors, waiting for his pumpkin to arrive.

Well, after he was drafted in the fifth round in 2013 by the Arizona Diamondbacks, he spent more than a decade playing for five different organizations, an independent league team and in Mexico, the Red Sox called him up last week.

When he stepped into the batter’s box, he had made 5,075 plate appearances in pro ball. The 5,076th was as a pinch-hitter for the Red Sox.

A movie would have him hit a home run. Didn’t happen. He drew a walk and that satisfies this Cinderella saga.

—A HEFTY BAG: A sign of the times is that at age 84 I’m getting stronger and stronger. I can now lift $100 worth of groceries with one hand.

OK, I stole that from a sign shop, but it’s true.

—PLAYLIST NUMBER 58: We are up to more than 500 songs and still counting:

Give A Little Bit (Supertramp), If I Can Dream (Elvis Presley), Wasted Days And Wasted Nights (Freddy Fender), Stay (Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs), Cracklin’ Rosie (Neil Diamod), Eye In The Sky (Alan Parsons Project), Sherry (The Four Seasons).

Walk of Life (Dire Straits), Say Something (Christina Aguilera), It’s All Coming Back To Me Now (Meat Loaf), A Teenager In Love (Dion & The Belmonts), I Go Crazy (Patsy Cline), I Still Haven’t Found What Love Is (U2), Don’t You Forget About Me (Simple Minds).

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