OBSERVATIONS: When a ‘bad guy’ was really a ‘good guy’


UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, politely saying no when Nadine asks if I want to work a jigsaw puzzle. I am against anything that contains back-to-back Z’s.

—This one falls under a cliche: Never judge a book by its cover. And I hope all of you consider that when you see me throwing out a first pitch on the cover of my book, ‘The Real McCoy: My Half-Century Covering the Cincinnati Reds.’ (Yes, a shameless plug.)

My favorite guy who falls into that category was outfielder Kevin Mitchell. When the Cincinnati Reds acquired him his reputation was that of a thug. It was said they needed to hang a ‘Beware, Mad Dog’ sign around his neck.

Talk about misrepresentation. Instead of a mad dog, the media found a cocker spaniel puppy. He could not have been better. He was one of the funniest dudes ever to put on a Reds uniform. It was apropos that the Reds wore white hats when he was there because he was a white-hat type of guy.

His stories were hilarious about his life growing up, and it was hard life. He was so funny, that I stopped by his locker every day and he would give me a humorous nugget. I relayed it every day at the end of my pre-game notes column and called it Kevin’s Korner.

He caught on and he would call me over and say, “I have something for Kevin’s Korner.”

Example: The Reds called up pitcher Larry Luebbers to start a game. He walked by Mitch’s locker and Mitch had never seen him nor heard of him.

“Hey, what’s your name, Larry Luger? If you have me running around in left field tonight you are going to see the business end of a Luger.”

Every year, the Reds writers give a Good Guy Award to the player most cooperative. Mitchell won the award. When we gave it to him, he cried. “Nobody,” he said, “has ever called me a good guy.”

—MLB finally announced its ‘penalties’ for the Boston Red Sox, if you want to call them penalties. There has barely been a whisper about it in the media.

Manager Alex Cora, already fired by the Red Sox, is suspended through the 2020 season, if there is one. Regardless, he can come back for the 2021 season.

Cora was suspended for his role in illegal sign-stealing while managing Houston in 2017. The Red Sox lost a second round pick in this year’s draft.

And get this one, Boston’s replay videographer, some poor guy named J.T. Watkins, was suspended for sign-stealing in 2018. No other member of the Red Sox was punished.

This punishment to the Red Sox is like telling your kid to stand in the corner while it is raining, but he can go out and play as soon as he sun comes out.

—QUOTE: From former Houston pitcher Joe Musgrove: “If MLB did an investigation as thorough as they did on the Houston Astros with every team in baseball, they are going to find a lot more than they want to find.” (This, I believe, is absolutely accurate.)

—From Cincinnati WGRR disc jockey Chris O’Brien (whose show on which I appear every Monday when there is a baseball season): “For the first time since 1945, the Scripps National Spelling Bee has been cancil…cancul…called off.” (That’s reel funy, Cris.)

—Urbana University is not only cutting out all athletics, the school is shutting all its doors. . .for good. So sad.

Back in the 1970’s, Urbana was coached by Jerry Walke and I covered a few Blue Knights games, then shared some milkshakes with Walke after the game. Honest, milkshakes.

One summer, Walke dressed up in a chicken costume and roamed the Riverfront Stadium stands, hoping the Cincinnati Reds would hire him as a mascot. They didn’t. They weren’t laying any eggs in the 1970s.

—QUOTE: From the Famous Chicken, who was a comedic mascot for the San Diego Padres and was so good he crossed the road and took his act nationwide: “My favorite play in baseball is the balk. Balk, balk, balk.” (The Famous Chicken, Ted Giannoulas, once appeared at halftime of a UD basketball game. He climbed atop the press table, ripped my story out of my typewriter and threw it on the floor. That’s OK. My lede was terrible.)

—Louisville Slugger, major supplier of bats to the major leagues, has locked its doors due to the coronavirus. Wonder how the players will like taking their kid’s plastic whiffle ball bat to home plate when baseball resumes?

One thought on “OBSERVATIONS: When a ‘bad guy’ was really a ‘good guy’”

  1. Hal;

    THANKS for sharing regarding Kevin Mitchell. GREAT stuff indeed.

    A gift to hit a major league pitch without really trying ?

    I think it was Marty B. who said something to the affect that Kevin Mitchell could hit a baseball falling out of bed or something like that.

    Always wondered what Kevin Mitchell’s stats would have looked like if he had been inclined to “live, eat and sleep” the art of playing major league ball in a Ted Williams,Pete Rose, Joey Votto sort of way.

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