OBSERVATION: Mason grad plays a hot Louisville Slugger

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, trying to type while fighting a mild case of COVID. So far, six of seven of us who went on vacation together came back with COVID. As Mary Todd Lincoln was once asked, “Other than what happened to your husband, how was the play?”

~What does the son of parents who both play in the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra do? His dad plays the tuba and mom plays the flute.

So does Nick Northcutt play the viola? Does he play the oboe? Does he play the trombone? Does he play the harp?

No, Nick Northcutt plays the baseball bat and is a real swinger. Northcutt attended Mason High School and was Boston’s 11th-round pick in 2018.

This year he is playing third base and first base for High-A Greenville in the South Atlantic League (SALLY) and has some incredible numbers.

In his first 30 games, he has 14 home runs and 30 RBI in only 119 at bats. So far, though, it is all or nothing. His slash line is a pedestrian .252/.305/.647. He has struck out 47 times and walked just six times.

Despite what his parents do, this guy does not bang the drum slowly.

~This is one for the ages, brought to our attention by Dennis Singleton of Huber Heights:

In a Big Ten baseball game last week at Iowa, Indiana led 13 – 2. . .and lost. Not only did the Hoosiers lose, they lost by 30 -16.  It took 4:35 to play and 462 pitches were thrown. There were 18 walks by 11 pitchers.

There was one unused Indiana pitcher and he was found hiding behind the bat rack.

~A lot of people who should know better believe that first base is so easy it can be played while sitting on a couch. It ain’t easy. Just ask Dick Stuart, whose nickname was Dr. Strangeglove for an apparent reason and it appears he tried playing first base in a La-z-boy recliner.

As a first baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirated, the not-so-good doctor led the National League in errors seven years in a row.

At least he had a sense of humor. His license plate number was ‘E3.’ And the Houston Astros had a catcher, Alan Ashby, whose Texas plates read ‘SBE2.’

~QUOTE: Another of Yogi Berra’s great Yogi-sms: “We made too many wrong mistakes.”

~Remember Paul Konerko with the Cincinnati Reds? If you took a quick potty break, you might have missed him.

It was 1998 and he played 26 games for the Reds withy 73 at bats. He hit.219 with three home runs and 13 RBI.

On Opening Day of 1998, the Reds traded pitcher Dave Burba from Kenton Ridge High School to Cleveland for Sean Casey.

Since both could only play first base, one had to go. So, it was so long and farewell to Konerko, off to the Chicago White Sox for outfielder Mike Cameron.

And whatever happened to him? In a strange oddity, in mid-April of 2010, Jermaine Dye homered and Konerko followed him with a home run. It was the 300th career home run for both.

Konerko went on to play 18 years and hit 439 home runs and drove in1,412 while hitting .279. Upon his retirement, the White Sox retired his number 14 and there is a statue of him in the left field concourse.

The statue could run faster than Konerko.

Meanwhile, Cameron, along with pitcher Brett Tomko and a couple of minor leaguers for Ken Griffey Jr.

~Trivia Time: What do all these baseball legends have in common?

Wade Boggs, Eddie Murray, Mike Piazza, Manny Ramirez, Derek Jeter, Kirby Puckett, Mel Ott, Albert Belle, Duke Snider, Eddie Mathews, Al Kaline and Bob Feller?

ANSWER: All were great players with many dazzling seasons, but none of them ever won an MVP.

~Perhaps you noticed Saturday that after Bo Bichette hit two home runs against the Reds, his teammates helped him put on a jacket. It’s a home run jacket and when a Blue Jay leaves the yard he get to wear the jacket until the inning is over.

Several teams have adopted dugout home run celebrations. The Brewers get to ring a bell hanging in the dugout. The Padres get to wear a huge and gaudy gold medallion necklace. The Angels get to plop on a cowboy hat. And the most absurd occurs with the Red Sox, a ride across the dugout in a laundry cart.

The Reds? Nothing. Perhaps they are just shocked when somebody hits a home run. The Reds have hit 32 homers, third least in the majors.

~That being said, I’m going out on a thin branch with this one and I know everybody will call me on it at season’s end, but I’m saying the Reds will not finish last nor next-to-last. They will finish third ahead of Pittsburgh and Chicago.

Since that toe-numbing 3-22 start, the Reds are 9-6 and have done it without Jonathan India, Nick Sensel and until this weekend Joey Votto.

And I say this despite the off-season purge of talent and rumors that teams are lining up to acquire pitchers Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle from the Reds.

And I say this despite the fact the Reds keep running out pitchers rescued from the witness protection program.

At least the Reds haven’t lost games like the Pirates have — 21-0, 18-3, 11-1 and 9-0 (twice).

Now I’ll go sit in a corner and retrieve my senses.

~Personal Peeve: Why don’t supposedly intelligent sportscasters know the difference between verse and versus?

They all seem to say, “It is the Orioles verse the Rays.” No, it is, “The Orioles versus the Rays.” A verse is something you write, like a poem. Versus means, “Against, especially in sports.”

As my author friend Scott Russell would say, “Carry on.”

~Love this one from my great friend Brad Schmaltz, former Reds beat writer for the Columbus Dispatch now living the good life in California, where he is paying $6.50 for a gallon of gas. And call us sexist if you wish, but I live this one:

“When a woman says to give her five minutes, it is like an NFL game with five minutes to go and both teams have all their timeouts.”

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