OBSERVATIONS: Like Gathering Hay, In Baseball It’s All About Pitching

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, stupidly taping the Cleveland Browns- New York Jets Hall of Fame exhibition game to watch after the Cincinnati Reds-Chicago Cubs game when the Browns and Jets play nothing but rookies and second teamers. But I’m ready for some football.

—OF STANDING PAT: Branch Rickey, legendary club executive with the St. Louis Browns, St. Louis Cardinals, Brooklyn Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates, was never afraid to make a trade and would trade his maternal grandmother for a utility infielder if he thought the player was worth it.

He also knew when not to make a trade and often said, “Sometimes the best trades you make are the ones you don’t make.” And that quote is also attributed to Bill Veeck, but you get the point, right?

So that’s the mantra Reds GM Nick Krall must stick to now that the trade deadline passed and he pretty much remained status quo, even though the Reds should be desperate for starting pitchers.

He said he was on the phone all day talking trades, but as expected the other teams wanted a bank vault full of Reds players, including some on the 40-man roster. Krall said no.

Was it the right move? The next two months will reveal the answer, but to his credit Krall also was thinking about the path in future years. The guess here is that some deep evaluations will be done in the off-season and some trade and free agent decisions will be made.

One naturally wonders about what happened the next three games after the Reds did nothing to juice the rotation. The team gave up 41 runs in three games. . .FORTY-ONE!!!.They lost to the Cubs by 20-9, 16-6 and 5-3.

Who scores 18 runs in three games and loses by 23? Right now, the Reds rotation contains Faith, Hope and Charity. Manager David Bell needs to thumb the Bible and find: “Whom shall I send (to the mound?)” Isaiah 6:8
—QUOTE: From Branch Rickey after he broke the MLB color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson: “I cannot face my God much longer knowing that his black creatures are hold separate and distinct from his white creatures in the game that has given me all that I can call my own.”

—WHAT’S GOING ON?: On his first day in a Cincinnati Reds uniform, newly-acquired relief pitcher Sam Moll sat in the Wrigley Field visitor’s bullpen and watched the Chicago Cubs score 13 runs in the first inning against his new team and 20 for the game

On his second night he watched the Cubs score 16 against his new team. In both games, catcher Luke Maile pitched.

At some point, he had to turn to Alexis Diaz or Buck Farmer or Ian Gibaut and ask, “Am I still with the Oakland A’s?”

After the two terriflying defeats, Reds manager David Bell read right out of The Manager’s Manual as to what to say after a double train wreck.

In his post-game media interview after the second loss, he said, “Two tough games, that’s really all it is. We’re not going to make more of it than that. It’s not going to change who we are or where we are or anything about any individual on our team or who we are as a team. It’s that simple.”

Simple? Well, maybe. But the team lost again the next night and looked dismal doing it.

—OH THOSE ANALYTICS: While we’re at it, can somebody sneak into the Reds’ offices and throw beer all over their computers.

On Wednesday, manager David Bell (or the computer via analytics) decided to sit Jake Fraley, TJ Friedl and Ely De La Cruz because the Cubs were pitching a left-hander.

Nick Senzel played third in place of De La Cruz and made three errors and went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts. Stuart Fairchild played center field in place of Friedl and misplayed a deep fly ball into a two-run triple. Friedl pinch-hit for him in the sixth and homered, giving the Reds a 6-5 lead. But they lost, 16-6.

And once again, pitcher Sam Moll asked, “Am i still with the Oakland A’s?

No matter if the pitcher is left-handed, right-handed, ambidextrous, whilte, black, brown, yellow or blue, there is no way you can sit three of your best hitters and expect to win.

—LONG, LONG, LONG GONE: The Atlanta Braves are in pursuit of the single-season home run record, the 307 hit by the 2019 Minnesota Twins. The Braves haver hit 206.

What’s more impressive is that some of Atlanta’s home runs look like a guy hitting his driver at a golf driving range. They have hit 20 home runs that traveled 450 feet or more, the most since StatCast began tracking them in 2015. And they have two more months to endanger Delta flights circling over Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

But as Willie Mays once said, “I don’t measure ‘em, I just hit ‘em.”

—THEY’VE GIVEN UP: While the Reds have struggled mightily against fellow National Leauge Central Rivals, there is good news down the pike. Both Pittsburgh and St. Louis have thrown the white towel of surrenders by trading away good players.

And the Reds have 12 games remaining against the Pirates and Cardinals. The Reds have to play better against fellow NLC members. So far they are 14-22 against National League Central teams while the Milwaukee Brewers are 23-10 and the Chicago Cubs are 21-14.

—FRESH START FOR STARTERS: Two days after the trade deadline on Thursday, three traded pitchers made their debuts with new teams and all three won, any one of which would look good even in those dreadful black Reds City Connect uniforms.

The game in Miami was doubly interesting to Reds fans. Former Reds pitcher Michael Lorenzen made his debut for the Philadelphia Phillies against Miami and former Reds’ ace Johnny Cueto.

Then there was Max Scherzer making his Texas debut against the Chicago White Sox and Jack Flaherty made his Baltimore debut against Toronto.

Lorenzen’s Philly debut was a 4-2 win and he pitched eight innings and gave up two runs and six hits. Cueto was the loser for his six innings of four-run, five-hit pitching. The Marlins have lost all six of Cueto’s starts this season.

Scherzer also won, giving up three runs and seven hits while striking out nine in a 5-3 Texas win over the White Sox.

Flaherty pitched six innings of one-run, four-hit baseball with eight strikeouts and was the winner, 6-1, over Toronto.

—DOG-GONE IT: When Zack Greinke pitched for Milwaukee he was sitting on the bench when a teammate mentioned that an opposing hitter was a cat-lover.

“You can’t trust anyone who likes cats,” said the teammate.

“Yeah, man, you really can’t,” said Greinke.

“I like dogs, you got any, Zack?” the teammate asked.g
“Nah,” said Greinke. “I would never get dogs. I’ve got a cat, though.”

My three dogs, Paige, Quinn and Parker, are not Zack Grienke fans. But they wish they had seen Orel ‘Bullog’ Hershiser pitch. And they are big fans of the El Paso Chihuahuas.

—From former college basketball coach Tubby Smith on the transfer portal: “We’ve had 800 Division I basketball players transfer last year. C’mon. Teaching ‘em how to quit? That’s what we’re doing. Things not going well? Let’s quit.”

Let’s see. Smith coached at Tulsa, Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota, Texas Tech, Memphis and High Point. Geez, I never knew there is a transfer portal for coaches.

—WISE DECISIONS: Speaking of the transfer portal, they don’t have one for sports writers.

During the course of my 61-year sports writng career, I turned down job offers from the Washington Star, Houston Post, Kansas City Star, Cleveland Press and the Philadelphia Bulletin.

All those newspapers have one thing in common. They are all out of business, without my help of pushing them over the edge.

I’ve made about 10 wise decsisions in my life and that was five of them.

OBSERVATIONS: There Are No ‘Fat’ Heads on the Reds Roster

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, watching the Cincinnati Reds get two hits over the last six innings and still beat the
Cubs, 6-5, and wondering if we’re seeing Team Destiny.

—NO BIG HEADS: Pulitzer Prize columnist Jim Murray, my Patron Saint of Words, typed this 62 years ago, in 1961.

“The Cincinnati Reds are too hot not to cool down. On the other hand, they’re like a snowball rolling downhill. You better stop them quick or they’ll get too big for you.”

Murray is no longer with us, but if he were still putting together words like no other sports writer ever did, he could use that same paragraph to describe the 2023 Reds.

For the most part, the young Reds are as green as a stack of cucumbers, but don’t show it. They stick together with the consistency of Gorilla Glue and a Three Musketeers approach of “One for all and all for one for one.”

With their unexpected success, one might think that rookie Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain and Spencer Steer might suffer from swollen heads, but they all still wear the same size hats.

TJ Friedl belongs in that category, barely above rookie status. Outside of Cincinnati he is somewhere between anonymity and obscurity.

So it was neat to see him on MLB-TVs Intentional Talk, wearing a red tee-shirt that said, “Stay Strong.”

He has had to stay strong. He has made it the hard way. He didn’t get a scholarship, so he was a walk-on at the University of Nevada-Reno. And he was not drafted. But after the 2016 draft, the Reds signed him and he received $732,500, the largest signing bonus ever given to an undrafted free agent. Then he spent five years in the minors.

Friedl, a second cousin to University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari, taught himself to play the ukulele last year.

They call a hitter who specializes in singles a banjo hitter. Maybe a guy who beats out 10 bunts is a ukulele hitter.

—SWITCH IT UP: There is no doubt Elly De La Cruz, a switch-hitter, will hit home runs from both sides of the plate in one game. They’ll come as soon as he learns how to hit down-and-away breaking pitches so he doesn’t have to resume his seat in the dugout rather than triumphantly tour the bases

So who do you think has the most games with home runs from both sides of the plate in a single game? My instant answer? Mickey Mantle? No.

Mantle did it 10 times, but there are four players who did it more. And the two tied for first at 14 times would not be answered correctly by a baseball geek on Jeopardy.

They are Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher. Carlos Beltra had 12 and Eddie Murray 11.

Pete Rose did it twice, both during the infancy of his carer, once in 1965 once in 1966.

—QUOTE: Hall of Famer Chipper Jones on switch-hitting: “You know, it takes a lot of work. It takes twice as much work to be a switch-hitter as it does to be one-sided. I can’t imagine walking up to the plate and facing a Kevin Brown or a Pedro Martinez righty-on-righty, or a a Randy Johnson or a Cliff Lee lefty-on-lefty. I thank God every day my dad made me turn around in the backyard and bat both ways.”

—ELLY ON THE TELLY: Speaking of switch-hitters, MLB-TV host Greg Amsinger and former MLB GM Dan O’Dowd watched a replay of Elly Del La Cruz’s bullet train home run against the Dodgers Sunday and engaged in this exchange:

AMSINGER: “The sky is the limit for this kid.”

O’DOWD: “Above the sky. Did you see how fast his hands are?” (Almost quicker than the naked eye and on the basepaths he seems faster than a bullet train. With four hits Sunday, Elly was hotter than a blacksmith’s belt buckle.

And before the home run, Dodgers fans were chanting, “Over-rated, over-rated.”)

—WHY NOT CINCY?: The Cleveland Guardians traded Aaron Civale, a good middle-of-the rotation pitcher, to the Tampa Bay Rays for their No. 4 prospect, first baseman Kyle Manzardo, their second-round pick in 2022..

So do you think the Reds could have acquired Civale for their No. 4 prospect, third baseman Cam Collier, Cincinnati first-round pick in 2022?

—POKEY OR POKEMON?: They played the 13th annual Hall of Fame Classic at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, an old-timers game, and former Reds shortstop Pokey Reese was Player of the Game.

Pokey went 4 for 4 as his team, Team Bert (managed by former pitcher Bert Blyleven) defeaed Team Kittie (manager by former pitcher and Reds pitching coach Jim Kaat), 8-3.

Reese ripped a long single to right-center (a double back in his day), to drive in the game’s final two runs.

It was Pokey Reese who once said to me, “You know (Reds general manager) Jim Bowden is lying when his lips are moving.” I asked Pokey if he wanted that off the record and he said, “No, I want to be traded.”

At the end of the season he and pitcher Dennys Reyes were traded to Colorado for pitchers Gabe White and Luke Hudson.

—IT WAS CLOSE: Homer Bailey can rest comfortably. His record is safe. Bailey is the only MLB pitcher in history whose team (The 2018 Cincinnati Reds) lost 19 of his first 20 starts. Bailey was 1-14 that season.

Kansas City’s Jordan Lyles had a chance to tie Bailey Saturday night. The Royals had lost 18 of his 19 starts this season. But the Royals beat Minnesota, 10-7, and Lyles (2-12) got the win.

—INTENTIONAL WALK TALK: Hard to fathom, but Reds manager Lou Piniella ordered Chicago Cubs star Andre Dawson intentionallly walked five times in one game, a record that still exists.

The fifth one came in the 16th inning and it loaded the bases. Dave Clark then singled for a 2-1 walk-off win.

After the game, Piniella said, “How many times did we do it? Five? Oh, my God. But the situations warranted it.”

Dave Clark was not from the Dave Clark Five singing group, but he was ‘Glad All Over.’

—BIG, BAD BOB: Rickey Henderson, the world’s best base-stealer, even before they made the bases bigger than a MyPIllow, was reknowned for not knowing names, not even some of his teammates.

But he knew Bob Boone’s name. Boone, a former Reds manager, was a catcher for the Anaheim/Callifornia/Los Angeles Angels in 1982. He nailed Henderson three times in one game. He picked him off first in the first inning, caught him trying to steal in the second and caught him trying to steal in the sixth.

And that’s the year Henderson set the all-time single-season record with 130 steals.

Henderson, who retired with 1,406 thefts, tried to steal 34 times against Boone and was caught 15 times.

—QUOTE: From Rickey Henderson, who always referred to himself in the third person: “I’m not a bad guy. I don’t think any of my teammates think I’m a bad guy. I feel Rickey Henderson is a great guy. Rickey Henderson is a performer. I give entertainment.”

—TAKE THE MONEY AND GO: Geesh, how bad did the New York Mets want pitcher Max Scherzer to go away and take his mitt with him? They traded him to the Texas Rangers, but they are still going to pay him $35 million. The Ranger only have to pay $22.5 million of the $57.5 million left on his contract.

Wonder how much of Justin Verlander’s similar contract will the Mets munch on if/when they trade him?

—PERPLEXNG STAT: With one of baseball’s highest payroll and lineup stuffed with offensive weapons, how can this be?

The San Diego Padres are 0-10 in extra-inning games and 6-18 in one-run games. GM A.J. Preller doesn’t need a barber. He is tearing his own hair out.

—NO TINY TIM: Former Philadelphia Eagles middle linebacker Tim Rossovich was six degrees north of nuts.

He once challenged a guy to a race and drank a quart of motor oil to get ready. He once stripped naked, covered his entire body with shaving cream and ran up and down a Philadelphia thoroughfare. He once set himself on fire and walked into a party that he was not invited to attend.

When he was at USC, he took a shower, then climbed outside to stand naked on an eight-inch ledge. When the Dean of Students asked why he did it, Rossovich said, “It was a windy day and I thought it was a good way to dry.”

But he was good. In a game against the Atlanta Falcons he made 16 straight tackles. Before each play, he looked across the Falcons line and said, “I love you guys, but I gott mess you up.”

Everybody knew who exactly was “messed up.”

OBSERVATIONS: What Shohei Ohtani Did, Rick Wise Did Better

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from the Man Cave, bleary-eyed from Friday night west coast baseball but ready for another dose tonight.

—WORDS TO THE WISE: The TV folks are going off the deep end over Shohei Ohtani’s doubleheader performance the other day, as well they should. He pitched a complete-game one-hitter in the first game and hit two home runs in the second game of a sweep of the Detroit Tigers.

I witnessed and covered one even better in 1971. Rick Wise of the Philadelphia Phillies pitched a no-hitter and hit two home runs against the Cincinnati Reds in the same game. One game.

And everybody remembers Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. Why? Because it went 12 innings and Boston’s Carlton Fisk hiit a walk-off home run to beat the Reds. Guess who the winning pitcher was? Rick Wise.

I covered that one, too. I was not the beat writer in 1971 when Wise pitcched the no-hitter. Our regular beat writer, Jim Ferguson, took the day off and I was his stand-in

Wise has another distinction. At two different times he was traded for a future Hall of Famer. The Phillies traded him to St. Louis for Steve Carlton. And the Red Sox traded him to Cleveland for Dennis Eckersley.

—QUOTE: From Rick Wise when the designated hitter rule was installed: “The designated hitter rule is like someone else taking Wilt Chamberlain’s free throws.” (When it came to free throws, Wilt the Stilt shot as if he was blindfolded and standing with his back to the basket. . .and he might have done better had he shot them that way.)

—THE MAIN SPARK: While rummaging through a a stack of old spiral notebooks, I ran across one in which I had scribbled some Sparky Anderson quotes. The ink is fading and hardly legible. . .or was that my left-handed hand-writing?

***”I’ve changed my mind about the designataed hitter. Instead of it being bad, it stinks.” (And he said that when he managed the Detroit Tigers in the American League before the National League adopted it.)

***”Jose Canseco is built like Greek goddess.” (His personal statistics don’t list his breast size.)

***”If you have to choose between power and speed, you’ve got to go for speed. (Sparky would love the 2023 Cincinnati Reds.)

***“The problem with that guy getting on base is that it takes three doubles to get him home.” (I didn’t write down to whom he was referring, probably one of his pitchers.)

“The only reason I’m coming out here tomorrow is because the schedule says I have to.” (My fading notes say it was after the Reds lost two straight 4-0 games to the Philadelphia Phillies in May of 1975.)

—HE GOT SMOKED: From my great friend and former co-beat writer Brad Schmaltz: Pirates rookie pitcher Ron Blackburn was sitting in the dugout long before the gates opened when manager Danny Murtaugh plopped next to him and said, “My guess is we’ll have 30 to 35,000 fans tonight.”

“No way,” said the kid. “I’ll bet you a box of cigars we have 30 to 35,000,” said Murtaugh. “You’re on,” the rookie said.

Suddenly, Blackburn realized Murtaugh said 30 to 35,000, not 30,000 to 35,000. If 31 people showed up, he would lose.

“You win,” he said. Said Murtaugh, “Pay me when you can.”

So the rookie slipped into Murtaugh’s office, knowing the manager kept boxes of his favorite cigars in there. The kid grabbed one and later presented it to Murtaugh. Murtaugh turned to one of his coaches and said, “Nice kid. Pays off fast.”

***Speaking of cigars, my friend Jason Hyman attended the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies and brought me back a box of cigars from the Cooperstown Cigar Company. The cigars are great and the wooden box is a keeper.

—MIDDLE EAST BASEBALL: Barry Larkin is co-owner of an upstart professional baseball league in Dubai called Baseball United.

The four-team league will hold its draft in September in Cincinnati with Opening Day in November. So far, the league consists of the Mumbai Cobras, the Karachi Monarchs and two yet-to-be-named franchises.

With all the money in Dubai, expect a 100,000-seat stadium, the foul poles will be oil derricks and the players will use gold-plated bats. As giveaways, the teams will give fans barrels of oil.

—WHAT’S IN A NAME?: The Appalachian League is a summer college league, like the Cape Cod League, for freshman and sophomore collegiate players. None of the teams is affiliated with any major league team.

And the nicknames are hilarious: Bluefield Ridge Runners, Burlington Sock Puppets, Danville Otterbots, Princeton Whistlepigs, Pulaski River Turtles, Bristol State Liners, Elizabethton River Riders, Greenville Flyboys, Johnson City Doughboys, Kingsport Axmen.

Love ‘em, except for the Ridge Runners. We West Virginians considered that term offensive. We had a kid in my high school gym class from West Virginia we called ‘Ridge Runner’ and we considered it derogatory. So did he.

—QUESTIONS UNANSWERED: My great Sarasota friend, Tom Melzoni, recently wondered why a bunch of questions have never
been answered, like who let the dogs out?

That prompted me to wonder why a lot of questions posed in songs have never been answered (Yes, I have too much time on my hands).

***We still don’t know the Monotones question of who wrote The Book of Love and it has been 70 years.

***And has any girl ever said yes to Bobby Freeman’s question, “Do You Want to Dance?” It, too, has been 70 years.

***Have we ever found out who put the lam in the lamma, lamma ding dong? Nope.

***Frankie Lyman never discovered the answer to Why Do Fools Fall in Love.

***Peter Townshend and The Who never found out Who Are You, Who, Who?

Hey, Tom. I know who let the dogs out? It is me, every morning at about 6:30 when Paige, Quinn and Parker decide it is time to romp in the backyard. And like CCR, they have me looking out my back door.


OBSERVATIONS: Should The Reds Trade Jonathan India? (YES)

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, using a day off from Reds games to visit the dermatologist so he can empty his zapper gun all over my ancient body.

—INDIA-A-Go-Go: There is a strong report floating in cyberspace. It says that Cincinnati Reds general manager Nick Krall informed all MLB teams that second baseman Jonathan India is available in trade for a controllable young starting pitcher.

Yes, yes, yes, yes. And do it before the August 1 trade deadline expires. If the Reds wait until the end of the season, they might waste the unexpected bonanza they are building.

And if they ask about or want, Nick Senzel or Tyler Stephenson for a young pitcher, with no hesitation, “Just say yes.”

Because of all the young talented infielders — Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain, Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Noelvi Marte on the way — India is expendable.

Some fans believe that trading India might disrupt the clubhouse because India is an outspoken leader, team player, a hustler. But despite some big hits and big homers along the way, India has not been the productive player he was three years ago when he was Rookie of the Year.

Over my many decades of covering baseball, I’ve seen popular players, clubhouse leaders, traded. And there was grumbling in the clubhouse. But the team quickly moves on and dedicates itself to continue along the same path it traveled before the trade.

And many times the new guy is more productive, contributes more than the player they traded and he is quickly accepted in the clubhouse.

In addition to having players that might perform better, India, Stephenson and Senzel are on the doorstep of fat contracts. The Reds can do better cheaper. . .and they definitely like that.

If Krall can’t work a deal for a mid-level starter, maybe he should seek left-handed bullpen help. Alex Young is the only lefty in the Reds bullpen and he has made 46 appearances already.

Krall might give the Colorado Rockies a call and see what it would take to pry Cincinnati Moeller grad and lefty Brett Suter or southpaw Brad Hand away from them.

JOEY ON THE LOOSE: Joey Votto once said he’d like to drive a school bus and right now he is on the struggle bus at home plate. His slash line is .196/.310/.474 and he is on a 5-for-43 wild goose chase.

What to do, what to do? Does manager David Bell call him aside and tell him, for the good of the team it is time to sit down? Or does he ride with him in hopes that he snaps to it. Votto is 39 and Father Time waits for nobody.

Votto, though, has not lost his sense of humor and his love of the limeight and the TV camera. He appeared on MLB-TV’s High Heat with Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo this week and put on a masterful put-in at Russo’s exepense.

First, he turned his head and gave snappishly short answers to Russo’s first few questions. Then he erupted into a well-rehearsed harangue on how Russo doesn’t respect any players or teams outside of New York, recalling some things Russo said about him and pitcher Zack Greinke..

“You are looking down at us, a couple of small market midwest ballplayers, just because we’re not big-city just like you,” said Votto. “Mr. New York City. Sirius-XM radio star, Mr. National Television star. Mr. ESPN star. . .with your Fifth Avenue tie and your crisp pocket squares, your tailored suits and your polished shoes.

“And your hair,” he continued, voice reaching a crescendo. “Your pefectly quaffed Broadway hair. Must be nice to sit above that Madison
Avenue Ivory Tower, looking down at us with those luscious locks and not everybdoy can be the next Roger Peckinpaugh, Mad Dog.”

By this time Russo realized he was being put-on. Votto eventually laughed and said how much he loves and respects Russo. It was quite the act.

—EARLY TRADE WINDS: With Tuesday’s 6 p.m. trade deadline lurking, a couple of big deals materialized Wednesday.

The shocker was that the Los Angeles Angels decided they are all-in this season, despite the fact they are seven games out of first place and four games behind for a wild card.

Owner Arte Moreno said Shohei Ohtani is not available at any price and the Angels acquired coveted starting pitcher Lucas Giolito for two top prospects. This probably means that Moreno plans to invest all his considerable marbles into re-signing Ohtani, who can become a free agent at the end of the season.

That would be extremely wise. Ohtani, the pitcher/outfielder, not only is the best player in baseball, he is a cash cow, especially with advertising from the Japanese market.

°°°The Los Angeles Dodgers, not exactly pitch-rich, have given up on pitcher Noah Syndergaard and traded him to the Cleveland Guardians for shortstop Amed Rosario.

Strangely, a few days ago the Dodgers re-acquired shortstop Kike Hernandez from the Boston Red Sox.

LA signed Syndergaard this year to a one-year $13 million deal and in his 12 starts he pitched to a 7.16 earned run average. He has been on the injured list since early June with a blister on his ring finger, a blister that must be the size of a cantaloupe to keep him out that long.

Cleveland gave up Franciso Lindor and Carlos Carrasco to get Rosario from the Mets.

So the Angels believe they are still contenders? And Cleveland believes Syndergaard can help them? Well, I believe I heard that Giolito and Syndergaard once stayed at a Holiday Inn Express..

—DANGEROUS DODGERS: After finishing their entire season’s series against the Milwaukee Brewers on July 26, losing for the 10th time in 13 games, this time by 3-0 Wednesday (their fourth shutout loss to the Brewers), the Reds have a day off Thursday.

Then they open a three-game series Friday night in Dodger Stadium against the Los Angeles Dodgers. . .or should we say the Los Dangerous Dodgers.

The Brewers, 1 1/2 games ahead of the Reds in the National League Central standings, haver an equally challenging task. They play a three-game weekend series at Atlanta against the Braves, against whom they lost two of three at home last weekend.

—A GRAND PLAN: Former baseball Maverick Bill Veeck owned the St. Louis Browns in the early 1950’s, an absolute abomination of a team that had squatter’s rights on last place in the American League.

After he took ownership, he said, “We’ve sold half of our ballplayers and hope to sell the rest. Our secret weapon is to get a couple of Brownies on every other team to louse up the league.”

The league and other owners took the team away from him in 1953 and in 1954 the franchise was moved to Baltimore and became the Orioles.

—QUOTE: From Bill Veeck, former owner of the Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Browns and Chicago White Sox: “Baseball is almost the only orderly thing in a very unorderly world. If you get three strikes, even the best lawyer in the world can’t get you off.”

—A MOVIE SOLUTION: New York Mets manager Buck Showalter recently said he likes Hallmark movies, “Because they always have good endings.”

So maybe he should ask Hallmark to make a movie about the Mets because they are not headed for a good ending.

—WHAT’S $35 MILLON?: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers revealed that he has restructured his contract with the New York Jets and is taking a two-year $35 million pay cut.

His old contract with the Green Bay Packers called for $110 million over the next two years. He has agreed to cut that to $75 million over the next two years with the Jets.

Why? It gives the Jets more flexibility to sign better players to surround Rodgers.

Doesn’t Rodgers realize that the cost of living in New York is through the roof compared to Green Bay, Wisconsin? The guess, though, is that Rodgers and his bank won’t miss a miserly $35 million.

OBSERVATIONS: Like Danny Graves, Rodon’s ‘Hand Signals’ Draw Rebuke

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from the Man Cave, wondering if Elly De La Cruz went to Chris Sabo’s School of Baserunning: Run until you are safe or out?

—REACTIONARY ‘SALUTES’: That’s quite a fuss New York Yankees pitcher Carlos Rodon kicked up for showing fake admiration for Gotham fans.

As he came off the field in a game this week, down 4-0 to the Los Angeles Angels, he reacted to intense booing from the Yankee Faithful by blowing them a kiss.

Fans expect more than an 0-and-3 record with a 7.36 earned run average in his three starts since Rodon came off the injured list, where he was when the season began.

They want more for their money — $162 million for six years.

At least it was a blown kiss, and not the Fickled Finger of Fate that Reds Hall of Fame pitcher Danny Graves flashed at a fan.

Graves was one of the Reds’ all-time best closers, nicknamed The Baby-Faced Assassin. For some reason, manager Bob Boone decided Graves should be a starter. And it didn’t go well. After one rough outing, Graves was removed from the game. As he reached the dugout steps a fan yelled, “Go back to Vietnam,” Graves’ birth place.

Instead of blowing the man a kiss, Graves raised his middle finger, the ol’ one-finger salute.

It was very uncharacteristic of Graves, one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet, if he doesn’t have a baseball in his hand.

Like Rodon, it was reactionary. And it should be forgotten quickly, although many Reds fans have not forgetten.

¸—A HEART-TUGGER: Due to mental health issues, minor-league pitcher Alex Reas retired in 2021. He began coaching Little League in the Carolinas.

But the itch was still there and his mental health issues seemed resolved. So he asked the Texas Rangers, the team that oringally drafted him, for another try this spring. They said yes.

So Reas dazzled them in Class AA and Class AAA, a 1.00 ERA and 14.8 strikeouts per nine innings. The Rangers called him up this week and he made his MLB debut.

How did he do? Swimmingly. Facing the Tampa Bay Rays, he pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings to help preserve a win. In the process, he struck out three All-Stars — Wander Franco,Yandy Diaz and Randy Arozarena.

Of striking out Franco, he said, “I didn’t even know who was batting. I was too locked in.”

SPEED DEMON: While Cincinnati Reds infielder Elly De La Cruz is showing off his bionic arm with 98 and 99 miles an hour throws (Should he pitch?), there is real velocity emanating in Minneapolis.

Minnesota Twins closer Jhoan Duran has thrown the five fasted pitches in MLB this season, between 104.4 and 104.8 miles an hour.

The 104.8 came this week against Seattle third baseman and former Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez. Amazingly, Suarez hit the pitch.

It wasn’t a mammoth home run, it was a weak grounder to third. How do you make contact with a pitch at 104.8 miles an hour? Close your eyes and swing?

This Duran must be like the Duran Duran song, ‘Hungry Like the Wolf.’

“I throw the ball to home plate as hard as I can,” said Duran. (Oh, good. I wondered if those might be change-ups.)

—NO BALTIMORE BROOMS: Baseball is always full of wild and wonderful factoids. And here is one that shocked me:

The Baltimore Orioles have played 71 straight series without getting swept. They’ve won at least one game in all 71 series.

—QUOTE: From Babe Ruth about retirement: “All ballplayers should quit when it starts to feel as if all the baselines run uphill.” (I feel the same about a set of stairs, Babe.)

—PHILLY PHOLLIES: Back in the days when Philadelphia had two major league teams, the A’s in the American League and the Phillies in the National League, there were many years when it was tough to be a baseball fan in the City of Brotherly Love.

They both finished last in the same year many times. Take for example the 1936 season. The Phillies were 54-100 and the A’s were 53-100.

Those two teams should have played a World Not So Serious set of games to determine the absolute worst team of ’36.

Of course, there was no losing team like the expansion 1962 New York Mets, losers of the stilll standing record of 120 losses.

The Mets played 58 one-run games, losing 39. And they lost 13 of 17 extra-inning games. Close, but not even a cheap cigar.

Of their 39 one-run games, manager Casey Stengel said, “And there were plenty of game we lost by 14.”

—ROCKY MOUNTAIN CHANGE: When Deion Sanders played in the NFL and MLB, he was most known for his ability to run.

Now that he is a college football coach, he is known for his penchant to run off. . .as in run off players.

He is the new coach at Colorado and he is giving the team a complete makeover. Of the 51 scholarship player on the team this spring, only 10 remain.

Sanders calls his method the 40-40-20 plan. He is bringing in 40% graduate transfers, 40% undergraduate transfers and 20% high school recruits.

“I’m a change agent,” said Sanders. “Everthing I touch, it has no other possibilities but to change because that’s what we do.”

Sanders is there to change a losing culture. Not counting the shortened 2020 pandemic season, the Buffaloes have had one winning season since 2005 — 16 losing records in 17 years. The Buffs were 1-and-11 last season.

Sanders was a defensive whiz in the NFL and he better transfer that to Colorado. Each week, the Buffaloes got worse. In order, they gave up 39, 41, 43, 45, 43, 42, 42, 49, 55, 54 and 6 points.

Colorado, where the buffalo roam, is not where good football players have roamed

—QUOTE: From Neon Deion Sanders: “If your dream ain’t bigger than you, there’s a problem with your dream.” (His dream for Colorado could turn into a nightmare.)

—DIALING ‘EM UP: My all-time favorite standard home runs calls by broadcasters, past and present. And I have to start with the first one I ever heard, from Cleveland Indians play-by-play guy Jimmy Dudley in 1948 when I was eight: “It’s going, going, going, gone.”

Bob Uecker, Brewers: “Get up, get up, get outta here, gone.”

Tom Hamilton, Guardians: “There’s a swing and drive, waaaaay back, gone.”

Hawk Harrelson, White Sox: “There’s a drive. . .put it on the board. . .yes.”

Jon Miller, Giants (When a Latino homers)” “Adios, pelota.”

Drew Gordon, Nationals: “Take a good look, because you won’t see it long.”

John Sterling, Yankees: “It is high, it is far, it is gone.”

Greg Brown, Pirates: “Raise the Jolly Roger, cannonball coming.”

Harry Caray: “It might be, it could be, it is.”

Jeff Kingery, Rockies: “That ball is going and it ain’t coming back.”

Harry Kalas, Phillies: “Swing and a long drive and. . .that ball is outta here.”N

—DOG EAT DOG: On a recent segment of MLB Central, my favorite baseball show, they argued over whether anybody should put ketchup on a hot dog. Most of them acted as if that was like putting mayonaise on spaghetti. Mustard only, they said.

But Lauren Shehadi said she hates mustard and prefers ketchup on her hot dogs. And whatever Lauren Shehadi says I’m all for it.

What I wish somebody would have said is, “It is personal preference. Whatever somebody likes. Who are we to say ketchup is not cool on a hot dog? If a person likes red dirt on a hot dog, go for it.”

Uh, yes, I put ketchup and onions on my hot dogs. Wonder how many ‘dogs Joey Chestnut could eat with ketchup on them?

—QUOTE: From old-time movie idol Humphrey Bogart: “A hot dog at the ballgame beats roast beef at the Ritz.” (Mustard or ketchup, Bogey?)

—QUOTE: From Clint Eastwood in the movie Dirty Harry: “Nobody, but nobody, puts ketchup on a hot dog.” (Shut up and go drive your Mustang, Harry.)

OBSERVATIONS: Dissection of a Six-Game Losing Streak

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, staring at the refrigerator that is full of Yuengling and Shiner Bock that I am not driinking during my diet. . .and it is painful.

ALL FOR ONE: Why does it seem that when one man slips into a slump, it runs through the clubhouse like a communicble disease? For the Cincinnati Reds, is has reached pandemic proportions during a six-game losing streak.

It is not certain who the host is, but somebody on the Reds contracted slumpitis and spread it through the clubhouse like measles in a nursery school.

The Reds are on a six-game losing streak and manager David Bell has so much on his plate there is no room for gravy.

The once explosive offense has a soaked wick and the CPR finishes, 33 come from behind finishes, have evaporated. They are facing various grades of pitching, but they all look like Randy Johnson, Clayton Kershaw and Justin Steele.

After a Hall of Fame start, Elly De La Cruz is just standing in the hall right now. He is 1 for 20 with 13 strikeouts. Low and away breaking pitches are his Waterloo. Right now, his glove is mightier than his bat.

And it isn’t just him. Tyler Stephenson is 1 for 21. TJ Friedl is 1 for 17 with eight strikeouts. His one hit is a bunt. Joey Votto is 2 for 20 with six strikeouts (five walks). Spencer Steer is 3 for 29, although he had two hits in Tuesday’s 11-10 loss.

During the six losses, Bell has continued to stage a wagon train procession of relief pitchers. He has used the bullpen 26 times in those six games and the relief pitchers have shown too much genorisity in issuing walks at inopportune times.

Bullpen usage is so heavy it would not be surprising to see a relief pitcher’s arm fall off as he trots in from the bullpen.

Mistakes on the basepaths are surfacing with regularity, as are defensive lapses, mentally and physically, all things fan didn’t see during the team’s rush toward the top of the standings.

If all good things come to an end, surely all bad things come to an end, too. It best be soon for the Reds.

—CROSSED MANY ‘BRIDGES:’ Remember a song sung by Willie Nelson (and others) called, ‘I’ve Been Everywhere?’

It wasn’t written by former major league infielder Rocky Bridges, but it could have. In 11 seasons he played for seven teams. His longest stint was with the Cincinnati Reds.

“I’ve had more numbers on my back than a bingo card,” he said. “It’s a good thing I spent four years in Cincinnati. It took me that long to learn how to spell it.”

—A HAIRY SITUATION: If former Reds President/General Manager Bob Howsam can see from his current underground location, he is probably spinning like an airplane propeller.

The Reds No. 1 draft pick, Rhett Lowder, has long, flowing hair down his back. In Howsam’s tenure, long hair, beards and mustaches belonged on paintings, not on players.

He probably would not have drafted the Wake Forest pitcher. If he did Lowder would be made to make an appointment with a barber before he had an appointment to sign a contract.

But that’s another sign of the times. Pitchers seem to believe their sliders and change-ups behave better if the pitcher has long locks, a scraggly beard and a stiff moustuche.

For some reason, you don’t see all that hair on most position players.

—RUN, RUN, RUN: For the conspiracy theorists, one wonders if MLB slipped in some juiced baseballs for Tuesday’s games. Juiced? In most games it seemed as if they were using Super Balls.

Some scored: 17-3, 16-13, 11-10, 11-10, 11-10, 10-3, 10-1 and 9-1. UPS missed its delivery to Fenway Park. Not onlyo did the Boston Red Sox not get the baseballs, they got shut out by the woeful Oakland A’s

Atlanta (13),Cincinnati (10), Chicago White Sox (10) and Detroit (10) all scored in double digits and got beat. It was the first time in mdern MLB history that four teams in one day scored in double figures and lost.

Pitching, pitching, pitching. Where is it?

—WHITE-OUT: From their inception in 1946 until 1950, the Cleveland Browns wore all-white helmets with no logos and no face masks.

It was when they were in the All-America Conference where they seldom lost a game against a riff-raff of disorganized franchises that couldn’t beat the Merchant Marines.

When the AAC folded and the Browns moved to the NFL, and kept winning, the switched to the orange helmets they’ve worn — with no logos — for 73 years.

Well, this season it is back to the future. For three games, they will wear white helmets. They won’t be all-white. They’ll have brown-and-orange stripes down the middle.

They will snap them on for the first time for Game 2 in Pittsburgh.

Unfortunately, the rest of the league will still recognize them.

—QUOTE: From the singer Sting, who won 17 Grammys, including one for the song ‘Every Breath You Take’: “I don’t understand American football at all. It looks like all-in wrestling with crash helmets.”

—The ‘STATE’ OF GOLF: From a long ago Sports Illustrated piece by Steve Rushin, when SI was worth reading, the exception these days is talented basketball writer Pat Forde:

“There were 15,300 golf courses in the U.S., covering 1,846,800 acres, more than twice the size of Rhode Island, a state that exists expressly to be demeaned in comparisons such as this.”

—QUOTE: From Hall of Fame golfer Ray Floyd: “They call it golf because the other four-letter words were taken.” (Wonder what par is for Rhode Island?)

—ELBAUM THE BOMB: I once became acquainted with a boxing promoter in my native Akron named Don Elbaum, an innovator, to say the least.

For one fight, he sold advertising from a restaurant on the bottom of a huge underdog’s shoes, figuring he would get knocked out and the advertisement would show on the bottom of his feet.

It backfired. To Elbaum’s dismay, the underdog knocked out the other guy, whose shoe soles were pristine.

Elbaum made a few enemies along the way, especially in Youngstown, known as Mobster City. He paid people to start his car for him.

—WORDS TO THE WISE: From former heavyweight boxer Randall ‘Tex’ Cobb: “If you screw things up in tennis, it’s 15-love. If you screw up in boxing, it’s your ass.” (Or at least you end up on it.)

—SMOKE OUT: Nadine won’t let me smoke cigars in her car. She isn’t convinced that if we break down we can use them as emergency flares.

OBSERVATIONS: Reds Will Win NL Central By Five Games

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave: Hoping to become a mere shadow of myself. I’m down 11 pounds, only 17 to go. . .but dang, get rid of your DQ stock.

—SOME CONSOLATION: When I posted my ‘Eat Crow’ column, admitting my ignorance for predicting the Cincinnati Reds would lose 100 games and finish last again, I received this post from Rex Musselman:

“Hal. . .I very clearly remember you being on the set of Reds Live with Jim Day and Jeff Piecoro back in 2010 right around late July or early August. You defiantly said this team will win the division fairly easily, by at least five games. You were spot on.”

Since I can’t remember at times the names of my three dogs, I’ll take yor word for it, Rex. That was before Reds upper management made me persona non grata on Reds TV and radio.

As it turned out (I just looked it up), I was indeed spot on. The Reds won the National Leaguae Central by five games.

Musselman’s ending to his post was, “What is your prediction for this season in regards to the National League Central?”

Well, why argue with long ago success? Once again, the Reds will win the National League Central by, oh, how about five games?

More? Elly De La Cruz will be Rookie of the Year, Joey Votto will be Comeback Player of the Year, David Bell will be Manager of the year and general manager Nick Krall will be Executive of the Year?

Yeah, yeah. I know. I’m pushing that envelope real hard, aren’t I?

—A STRAIGHT STEAL: Nadine’s jeweler, Scott Hannig of Elizabeth Diamonds, came up with a phrase for the way the Reds currently play, giving credit to general manager Nick Krall. He calls it Krall Ball.

Hey, Scott. I’m stealing it, but I’m giving you credit.

—ONE YEAR’S DIFFERENCE: In February of 1914 the New York Giants and Chicago White Sox played a series on exhibition games in Paris and London. Well, every game in Paris was rained out.

After the London stop, the two teams boarded a ship to return home. The ship? The Lusitania.

Little more than a year later, the Lusitania was sunk by a German Submarine, the U-20, and 1,197 passengers perished.

—NOTE: Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, 37-year-old railroad heir and horse racing magnate, had reservations but missed the Titanic in 1912, but unfortunatel did not miss the Lusitania in 1915, despite receiving a mysterious telegram telling him the ship was doomed.

—DIAZ, DIAZ, DIAZ: The All-Star game set a record with the most players with the same last name.

There was Elias Diaz, catcher with the Colorado Rockies and All-Star MVP, there was Yandy Diaz of the Tampa Bay Rays and there was Alexis Diaz of the Cincinnati Reds. They are not related

Both Elias and Yandy hit home runs. It wasn’t so good for pitcher Alexis. He gave up a run and two hits during his appearance.

And that’s a concern for the Reds. Is their closer running out of petrol midway through the season? He has 26 saves in 27 chances, but lately he puts men on base before pitching out of it.

He has given up at least one hit in each of his last five appearances, two each in his last two. He has appeared in 41 of the Reds’ 91 games and pitched 40 innings.

He could have used the four days off.

—QUOTE: From Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda: “Everybody makes mistakes, that’s why they put erasers on pencils.” (But you can’t erase the mistake a hanging slider makes when it becomes a souveni in the left fied stands.)

—SIGN OF THE TIMES: The college basketball landscape is a mess. The landscape looks like a cotton field after boll weevils are finished, all due to the transfer portal.

It hits in the most stable programs, like the University of Dayton. The Flyers had only one schoarship player graduate, Toumani Camara.’

And yet, due to transfers, there will be 11 new faces on the 2023-24 UD roster. A roster consists of 15 players and the Flyers will have 11 new players.

They will have three new scholarship players, four transfers from the portal and four preferred walk-ons, including coach Anthony Grant’s son, Makai.

Fortunately for the Flyers, Daron Holmes II is returning and should be hands-down the pre-season Atlantic 10 Player of the Year choice. Also coming back are Malachi Smith, Koby Brea and Kobe Elvis.

—FACTOID: The 1916 New York Giants set the modern record in September of that season by winning 26 straight games. It still stands. The Giants also won 17 straight in May of 1916.

Guess where they finished? They finished fourth in the eight-team National League, seven games behind the Brooklyn Robins. During the 26-game streak, they played all seven teams in the league. They were 87-67, but without those two long winning streaks they were 49-67.

The modern organized ball record, still standing, is 29 in a row by the 1987 Salt Lake Trappers of the Pioneer Rookie League.

Of course, the all-time record is the
57 straight won by baseball’s first professional team, the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings.

I did NOT cover any of those games, so don’t ask.

—CLOTHES MAKE THE PLAYER: There has been considerable debate about the ugliness of the All-Star team uniforms, which looked as if they were designed for Casey’s Storm Door Company softball team.

Why did they get away from having the All-Stars wear their own team uniforms? This year’s team wore hats with their team logos on them, but they were all the same color and not the official team hats.

The game’s TV ratings were abysmal. The uniforms had nothing to do with viewership, but it would be more fun seeing players wear their actual team duds.

—QUOTE: From Susan C. Young, a movitvional speaker about positive change: “Experts agree that color can stimulate emotions which evoke different responses.” (Wouldn’t wearing their team uniform colors make the player feel more comfortable and more prideful? Maybe it’s nit-picking, but. . .just sayin’)

—CONFESSION. . .AGAIN: I did not watch the All-Star game. On Tuesday morning, Nadine asked if I was going to watch. I said, “Yes, it is on tomorrow.”

She said, “Isn’t the All-Star game always on Tuesday?” I said, “Yes, it is.” She said no more. I thought we were chatting on Monday.

So Tuesday night I watched ‘Pride of the Yankees’ on MLB Network. When I turned on the TV Wednesday morning, I discovered that the All-Star game had been played.

My former great friend Ray Snedegar won’t let me forget it. He has been downgraded to acquaintance.

P.S. — I watched the game Wednesday on replay.

OBSERVATIONS: Reds Get Snubbed, Only Diaz An All-Star

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, awaiting games with Carly Simon-like anticipation every day, wondering what The Mid-Size Red Machne will do next. Maybe this team might eventually size up, but there will never be another Big Red Machine. Maybe they can become The Big Red Machine 02 or The Big Red Machine II.

—SHORT-CHANGED: It is bone-picking time. The Cincinnati Reds were robbed and nobody even said, “Stick ‘em up and don’t turn around.”

The complete All-Stars teams were named Sunday and there are eight Atlanta Braves on the National League team. OK, they lead the NL East. There are six Texas Rangers on the American League team. OK, they lead the AL West.

The Reds are tied for first place in the NL Central, after losing 100 games last season, so I checked the list. And like Santa Claus, I checked it twice.

One Reds player on the list. One. Only closer Alexis Diaz was chosen. It is a decree that every team has to have at least one player on the team, but eight Braves?

Where’s Matt McLain? Where’s Andrew Abbott? Where’s TJ Friedl? Where’s Spencer Steer? I’m not saying all four should have made it, but at least one more and maybe two deserve it.

—TAYLOR-MADE FOR JOEY: On the day he played his 2,000th major league game, Joey Votto paid tribute to singer Taylor Swift, who was appearing next door at the Cincinnati Bengals’ PayCor Stadium.

Votto’s walk-up song was Taylor Swift’s ‘Twenty-Two’ because the opening words are, “It feels like a perfect night.”

It wasn’t perfect for Votto, who went 0 for 3 and was taken down for a pinch-hitter, but the Reds beat the San Diego Padres, 7-5, in 11 innings.

Votto, by the way, is 0 for 19 with 10 strikeouts and looks to have a slow bat that isn’t catching up to fastballs.

So what to do with Votto? His problem isn’t new. He hasn’t been productive over the last 3 1/2 seasons. Due to injuries, since 2020 he has played only 285 of a possible 546 games.

During that time, he is 232 for 991 (.234) with 61 homers, 170 RBI, 103 walks and 312 strikeouts.

As much as I’ve admired his work ethic, his leadership, his community involvement and his early career contributions, Father Time waits for nobody. Time to sit him down.

—REDS WON’T ‘MAX’ OUT: Knowing the Cincinnati Reds’ desperate need for a starting pitcher (or two), Las Vegas oddsmaker Adam Thompson has the Reds in the upper echelon of the Max Scherzer Sweepstakes. . .if there is one.

The New York Mets have hinted at possibly trading
Scherzer and eating part of his three-year $130 million contract. Scherzer owns a no-trade clause and said he won’t discuss it until he know for sure that owner Steve Cohen sets up a for sale sign on the team’s talent.

Thompson gives the Mets a 36.4% chance of keeping him. Then comes Texas (16.7%), Arizona (15.4%) and Cincinnati (13.2%). Wager $100 on the Reds and if it happens you win $650.

Keep your C-Note and buy about three pounds of strip steak. The price still would be monumental in talent traded and in salary for the fast-aging soon-to-be 39 Scherzer. Despite the Mets’ woes, Scherzer is 7-2, but would be way, way too costly and way, way too old for the Reds.

—SEE HOW THEY RUN: Wilbur Snapp was the ball park organist for the Class A Clearwater Phillies in 1985. When a 22-year-old umpire made a bad call that riled up the fans, he joined in by playing ‘Three Blind Mice.”

He became the first and only organist to be ejected from a game. He gained national attention and he signed autographs witb, “Wilbur Snapp, Three Bleind Mice.” (Well, he could have played Weird Al Yankovic’s song, ‘You’re Pitiful,’ which has a line, “You’ll always have a job as long as you can work the Slurpie machine.”

—PERPLEXING QUESTION: While we’re on a music theme, why do fans sing ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’ in the seventh inning when they are already there?

—THAT’S A STRIKE?: I have not been a big fan, or even a little fan, of the automated robot umpires. But after watching the human umpires work the last two series involving the Reds I’ve changed my mind. Plug ‘em in and bring ‘em on.

With those recent umpires, batters couldn’t hit some of those low-pitch ‘strikes,’ with a shovel and coudn’t reach some of those outside pitches called strikes with a canoe paddle with extensions on it.

—QUOTE: From umpire Cal Hubbard, his advice to hitters: “Boys, I’m one of those umpires that misses ‘em every once in a while, so if it’s close, you’d better hit it. (Sounds like every MLB umpire working these days.)

—GO OBI, GO: There should be jubilation in the Obi Toppin family. The former University of Dayton supernova and College Player of the Year, will be traded to the Indianapolis Pacer, according to an ESPN report.
Toppin, the No. 1 pick of the New York Knicks three years ago, never got the playing time he deserved, even though he played well during the few minutes a game he was allotted.

ESPN’s NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski had this take on it: “I saw him play half a dozen times at Dayton and he was absolutely incredible. Tailor-made for the NBA game I thought. I said this guy was the steel of the NBA draft. Pffffft. Three years later, he was given away for a bag of balls.”

Just give him lots of playing time, Pacers, and we shall see.

And playing in Indianapolis will afford his many fans in the Dayton area the chance to take in a few games, if they are willing to forego a mortgage payment for an NBA ticket.

—VROOM, VROOM: NASCAR staged a weekend of racing through the Chicago’s downtown streets. Residents, accustomed to what they wiitness on Chicago’s streets shrugged and said, “What’s the difference?”

—REMEMBERING JESSE: Everybody knows the legend of Grover Cleveland Alexander. According to lore, he pitched a complete game in Game Six of the 1926 World Series for the St. Louis Cardinals against the New York Yankees.

So, believing he wouldn’t pitch in Game 7, he allegedly was sitting on a bar, his favorite pastime, while Game 7 was being played in Yankee Stadium.

But the Cardinals needed him. They sent a cab for him. He arrived in the seventh inning with St. Louis leading by a run. But the Yankees had the bases loaded with two out. Alexander struck out Tony Lazzeri, then pitched the eighth and ninth to preserve a 5-2 victory.

What is not generally known, is that Alexander replaced Phillipsburg native Jesse Haines, who started the game but had to leave with a split finger.

As baseball writer Damon Runyon described it, “Jesse Joseph Haines, the corn-fed man from Phillipsburg, Ohio, had been pitching for the Cardinals and doing fairly well.”

And after Grover Cleveland Alexander’s trip from a bar stool to the mound, St. Louis manager Rogers Hornsby said after the game, “Alex can pitch better drunk than any other pitcher sober.” What was it President Abraham Lincoln said about Gen. U.S. Grant’s heavy drinking? “Find out what brand he drinks and give it to all the generals.”

—SING US A SONG, PIANO MAN: When Yonder Alonso played for the Reds, he was one of my favorite guys, always a great guy to interview or just to sit down with and have a conversation.

And he does a fantastic job as an analyst on MLB-TV. But he made a faux pas the other day that nobody caught. He referred to Atlanta Braves closer Raisel Iglesias as Julio Iglesias.

It is not known if the singer, Julio, could throw a slider. And it is not known if Raisel has a singing voioce, but he does make his fastball sing.

OBSERVATIONS: Reds Are The Fastest Team On The Basepaths

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Cave after a boring day off because there was no Cincinnati Reds game, although I did watch the Pirates beat the Padres through the thick smoke sent to us, with love, from Canada.

—RUN REDS, RUN: Anybody who has watched the Cincinnati Reds speed around the bases like apartment-dwellers fleeing a four-alarm fire, already knew this.

But it’s official. Statcast metrics say the Runnin’ Reds are the fastest team in the majors. The average speed of all MLB teams is 27 feet per second. The Reds cover 28 feet per second. In baseball, a foot is as good as a mile.

The main man who pushes the Reds to a higher plane is Elly De La Cruz, who could cross Cripple Creek in a single stride. When he flashes around the bases his name becomes Elly De La Cruise.

Just a year ago, the Reds ran the bases like the hare racing the tortoise, the 23rd fastest (or slowest) team. And it is by design.

Reds general manager Nick Krall said recently during a TV interview, “We actually looked at this several years ago and said we had to get more athletic, we had to be better baserunners. And it is going to be the biggest improvement we can make to our team.”

Mission accomplished and job well done.

—ROOKIES, ROOKIES, ROOKIES: MLB Pipeline issues a monthly rating of the top rookies. Last month, there were no Reds in the top ten. This month there are two. . .Elly De La Cruz at No. 4 and Matt McLain at No. 9.

That leaves me with two bones to pick. First of all, McLain should be much, much higher. And he should be above De La Cruz, who had one mammoth week and is now struggling a bit. McLain has been as steady as a surgeon’s fingers.

Neither Andrew Abbott nor Spencer Steer made the top ten. Please, guys, give me a vote.

—QUOTE: From country singer Garth Brooks: “As a kid, before I could play music, I remember baseball being the one thing that could always make me happy.” (But when he sang ‘The Dance,’ Garth wasn’t singing about the NCAA basketball tournament.)

—PREMATURE SIGNATURE?: Retired legendary Cincinnati sports anchor Dennis Janson posed a great question on Facebook about the Reds signing second-year pitcher Hunter Greene to a six-year $53 million contract.

“What was the hurry?” asked D.J. I agree. What was the hurry? He took a physical before the contract was signed this season. Since then, he has been on the injured list twice. He won’t return until August, if then, same as fellow rotation member Nick Lodolo.

The Reds learn their lessons hard? They’ve been burned so many times by long-term deals: Homer Bailey, Devin Mesoraco, Brandon Phillips, Mike Moustakas and, to an extent, Joey Votto.

There was no sane reason to sign Greene so early in his career when they could have waited a couple more years to see how he pitched and how healthy he would be.

—SHHHH! HE’S PERFECT: The quietest perfect game in MLB history was thrown Wednesday night by New York Yankees pitcher Domingo German. Because it was a night game on the west coast and because it was against the Oakland A’s, not even MLB-TV gave it more than cursory attention.

If a perfect game is thrown aqainst the A’s is it like asking if a tree falling in the forest make a sound if there is nobody around? Dose it really count? It was like a Wright State University pitcher throwing a perfect game against West Carrollton High School. Oakand is 21-61, 29 games out of first place and on direct course toward a modern-day record of 121 losses.

But perfect is perfect. German threw 99 pitches, 77 for strikes, nearly identical to Tom Browning’s perfect game pitch-count of 101 pitches for 77 strtikes.

David Cone owns the record for fewest pitches in a perfect game. He threw 88, 66 for strikes, during his 1999 perfecto against the Montreal Expos.

—BASHING BAMBINO: For today’s baseball history lesson, on October 6, 1926, George Herman Babe Ruth hit three home runs in Game 4 of the World Series. No player had ever hit more than three home runs in an entire World Series.

Babe’s first two blasts were hit in Sportsman’s Park off a St. Louis Cardinals pitcher named Flint Rhem. Sports writer Damon Runyon wrote, “Flint Rhem’s name sounds like a patent medicine.”

And the times do change. Yankees pitcher Waite Hoyt pitched the entire game despite giving up six runs and 13 hits in New York’s 10-6 win.

Wrote Runyan, “The game dragged across 2 hours and 39 minutes and Waite Hoyt, that old-time schoolboy, staggered through the entire game.”

Before Game 4, the Yankees were mostly futile at the plate in the first three games and wrote Runyon, “It is rumored that some persons were seen violating the Volstedt Act (Prohibition, no alcohol) But it is believed they were New Yorkers who had been driven to drinking hair tonic after watching the Yankees try to hit.”

—QUOTE: From Joe Dugan, a Babe Ruth teammate with the New York Yankes: “Born? Hell, Babe Ruth wasn’t born. He fell from a tree. And it’s always the same. Combs walks. Koenig singles. Ruth hits one out of the park. Gehrig doubles. Lazzeri triples. Then Dugan goes in the dirt on his can.” (And he wasn’t even facing Bob Gibson or Don Drysdale. As Pittsburgh infielder Don Groat once said, “Don Drysdale would consider an intentional walk a waste of four pitches. If he wants to put you on base, he can hit you with one pitch.”)

—HEAD-Y SLOGANS: When Vern Rapp managed the Reds, briefly, he covered the clubhouse walls with slogans and sayings, like a high school football lockerroom.

My favorite was, “When in doubt, slide.” He should have added one, “Don’t slide head first, ever?” Manager David Bell must cringe every time he sees Elly De La Cruz or Matt McLain, or any of his players, slide head first. It’s a shoulder separation ready to happen.

But they all do it, even though it has never been proven that a head-first slide gets a runner to the base faster that a feet-first slide.