OBSERVATIONS: ‘Heaven’ has a great 2020 baseball team

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave watching Dusty Baker in the dugout with his mask on and wondering, “Where’s the toothpick?” Dusty is the first manager to take five different teams to the post-season — San Francisco, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Washington Nationals, Houston Astros. And he is still looking for his first World Series championship ring as a manager.

—Trevor Bauer continues to ‘troll’ major league teams by tweeting positive words about those teams.

His latest was aimed at the Baltimore Orioles when he said: “Can’t come to Baltimore without being reminded of what a cool stadium Camden (Yards) is, especially when it is packed with fans. Nothing like hearing 30,000+ Orioles fans yelling ‘O’ during the National Anthem. Always a fun time.”

That’s about 10 teams that he has talked about with the underlying message: “Hey, I’m here. I’m a free agent.”

The Cincinnati Reds, by the way, are likely to offer Bauer an $18.5 million one-year qualifying offer. He will reject it, but by making the offer the Reds are guaranteed a high draft pick from any team that signs Bauer.

Would he sign with the New York Yankees? That would be interesting because Bauer and Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole have a Mutual Dislike Society. And dislike is the polite assessment.

It goes back to the days when they were pitching teammates at UCLA. Said Bauer, “”We had a rocky relationship in college, because he told me that I had no future in baseball and he insulted my work ethic as a freshman. I don’t take kindly to those couple of things, so we had our issues.”

—In their morbid song, ‘In The Year 2525,” Zager & Evans didn’t mention the year 2020. But with all that’s happened, they should have.

It has been a particularly morbid year for the baseball community. So many have left us. With that in mind, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist  Gene Collier put together a ‘Heavenly All-Star’ team of players who died this year. The team:

PITCHING ROTATION: Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver, Whitey Ford, Mike McCormick, Don Larsen. BULLPEN: Ron Perranoski.

C-Hal Smith, Biff Pocaroba, 1B-Bob Watson, 2B-Joe Morgan, SS-Tony Fernandez, 3B-Tony Taylor, OF-Lou Brock, Al Kaline, Jimmy Wynn, Jay Johnstone, MGR-Eddie Kasko.

Give me that team and I’ll win a World Series.

—Oh, the vagaries of college football. Sometimes you get a kick out of it, sometimes you don’t.

Oklahoma kick Gabe Brkic, an All-American from Chardon, Oh., was the only kicker in college football to be perfect in 2019, 52-for-52 on extra points and 17-for-17 on field goals.

And there he was Saturday afternoon in the Red River showdown against Texas, the game tied in the third overtime, 45-45. All he needed was a chip shot 31-yard field goal to win the game.

Of course he missed it. Shanked it left. Not even close. But his Sooners teammates saved him in the fourth overtime, scoring a touchdown on the next play on alternating possessions.

Oklahoma wins, 53-45, in another Big 12 defensive classic.

—QUOTE: From Hall of Fame Cleveland Browns placekicker Lou ‘The Toe’ Groza: “Old placekickers never die, they just go on missing the point.”

—There was some shock and awe when Dick Williams resigned as Cincinnati Reds Director of Operations just a few days after the team quickly exited this year’s playoffs.

Why? He said all the time invested in trying to make the Reds relevant took a mammoth toll on his family life, his 24/7 approach to his job. That is undoubtedly very true. But Williams also revealed during a post-season media interview that negativity took its toll, too.

“I don’t know if it’s just me, but there is a lot more negativity out there than there ever used to be,” he said. “In this seat, it’s my job to wear it every day. The talk show hosts, the tweets, the negative articles, whatever is out there, I can tell you, I feel like it’s my job to soak all that up.”

He soaked it up until he was drenched and believes it was time for him to dry out. Indeed, these days of social media makes it tough. But as Williams said, you have to wear it.

—QUOTE: From anonymous, but it must be what Dick Williams was thinking: “Kids need to know they are the most important thing in the world, and if that means quitting your job to prove it, then you have to prove it.”

—Former Yankee-turned-broadcaster Alex Rodriguez, talking about the difference between Cincinnati pitcher Luis Castillo’s 99 miles an hour fastball and 88 miles an hour changeup: “He scares you with the hammer and gets you with the pillow.”

—This is the 150th year for the Braves organization. And I say Braves because the franchise has been in three cities — Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta.

And they’ve had more nicknames than Ted Williams.

With an assist to Mike Downey, they started out as the Boston Red Stockings, re-locating from Cincinnati. Then they were the Red Caps, Beaneaters, Doves, Rustlers, Bees and the Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves. That’s seven nicknames and three World Series trophies, one in each town — the 1914 Boston Miracle Braves, 1957 Milwaukee Braves, 1995 Atlanta Braves (over the Cleveland Indians).

—Rogers Hornsby was one of the all-time great hitters, the last National Leaguer to hit .400 — .401 for the 1925 St. Louis Cardinals. And he hit over .400 three times, including .424 one year.

As a manager, though, he was a resolute bust. His players routinely despised him.

An example appeared this week in ballnine.com, an interview with 93-year-old former pitcher Bob Kelly, who played briefly for the Cincinnati Reds when Hornsby was manager. When asked about Hornsby, he said:

“I’m sorry you mentioned his name. He was one of greatest ballplayers who ever lived and probably the worst manager.

“We were in Philadelphia and sat in the grandstands watching the Phillies take batting practice before we got dressed,” said Kelly. “Lo and behold, we looked down at the batting cage and here was our manager, Hornsby, giving the Phillies instructions on how to hit.”

—Pull your Merriam-Webster’s dictionary off the shelf and look up the word ‘mistake.’ Next to the word is a picture of a Cincinnati Bengals’ helmet. Look up the word offense and it says, “Something the Bengals do not have.”

Harsh? Yes. But what a mess that was Sunday, a 27-3 bushwhacking by the Baltimore Ravens. In their last 16 road games, the Bengals are 0-15-1. They don’t play Willie Nelson’s ‘On The Road Again’ in the Bengals lockerroom.

Making it more painful is the fact that Ravens defensive co-ordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale is a Dayton native, a product of Trotwood-Madison High School.

Bengals rookie quarterback Joe Burrow felt like a Kroger grocery packer. He was sacked seven times.

—So among the four MLB teams left standing, which one wins a contest for best minor-league nicknames?

For me, the Tampa Bay Rays win it in a head-first slide. Begin with the Durham Bulls (Bonus points for the movie ‘Bull Durham’), Charlotte Stone Crabs, Montgomery Biscuits and Bowling Green Hot Rods.

The Houston Astros are a close second: Corpus Christi Hooks, Fayetteville Woodpeckers, Tri-City ValleyCats, Qua-Cities River Bandits, Round Rock Express.

The Los Angeles Dodgers come in with Great Lakes Loons, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, Tulsa Drillers and Ogden Raptors. LA’s Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City is the Dodgers.

The Atlanta Braves have two affiliates with great nicknames, Gwinnett Stripers and Florida Fire Frogs. But they lost big points because three affiliates use the ‘Braves’ nickname.

—From good friend Jack Walker, a car dealership owner in Dayton for nearly 70 years: “The best way to get back on your feet is to miss a car payment.”

2 thoughts on “OBSERVATIONS: ‘Heaven’ has a great 2020 baseball team”

  1. Hi Hal,

    Love too hear some stories about Joe Morgan us Reds fans might not have heard about. I remember in 75 or 76 at a game.. Morgan came up to bat and my family asked me what I thought Morgan would do? I said hit a home run. Very next pitch he hits a homerun. I still remember all the fans around us looking at me in shock..RIP Joe Morgan!

  2. 1) Bob Watson at First Base. Didn’t he score like the millionth run in MLB History in ’74 or ’75. Something like two steps ahead of Davey Concepcion?

    2) Shocked to see a Cincinnati MLB team moved to Boston. I thought our original first ever pro team never left town. Surprised to see the Braves once upon a time called themselves the Red Stockings.

    3) Didn’t get your Maginot (Line) reference. It was built after WW I along the French-German border. When the Fascist scum attacked in 1940 they bypassed this fortification and drove north toward the English Channel, thus precipitating the evacuation at Dunkirk by the British. After that, the Fascists attacked the Maginot Line from the rear where it was not well fortified and quite weak. I’m not sure if the French within the fortifications ever capitulated, but, they would have when their nation sued for peace.

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