By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, watching a Houston Astros-New York Mets exhibition game for no apparent reason other than. . .IT’S BASEBALL.

—PETE, MEET PETE: Pete Rose has company on the banned-from-baseball list and his name is Pete.

A minor-league pitcher named Pete Bayer was banisheed in 2020 during the pandemic when all minor league games were canceled.

MLB’s investigators said that Bayer, with nothing to do, bet on close to 100 games between May and August. And he allegedly bet on Oakland Athletics games, the organization for whom he pitched.

He has appealed his banishment but, like the other Pete, it has been denied.

—A ‘TONY’ AWARD: Another amazing fact surrounding Tony Gwynn. We all know that Peter Edward Rose is The Hit King. . .4,256 hits. His career batting average is .303.

Tony Gwynn’s career batting average is .338. Now let this one sink in. For Rose to equal Gyann’s .338 average, he would have to go 750 for 750. Don’t believe it? Get out your calculator, as I did, then shake you head in amazement.

—GRAND SLAM TIMES TWO: Has anybody ever had an inning like this? During Northern Kentucky’s 27-4 win over Western Michigan, NKU designated hitter Liam McFadden-Ackman hit two grand slam home runs. . .in the first inning. NKU scored 14 runs in the first inning.

If that weren’t enough, McFadden-Ackman, a graduate of Mason High School, hit for the cycle.

As they say, “Have a day, Liam.”

**The only major league hitter to hit two grand slams in one inning is Fernando Tatis Sr., but he didn’t do it in the first inning and he didn’t hit for the cycle.

Pitcher Tony Cloninger hit two grand slams in one game. The all-time slammer is Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod hit 25 grand slams against 25 different pitchers and 16 different teams.

**And there have been 225 inside-the-park grand slam home runs. The last one was hit last July by Toronto outfielder Raimel Tapia against the Boston Red Sox.

**One of the most noteworthy inside-the-park grand slam was hit by Pittsburgh’s Roberto Clemente on July 25, 1956 in old Forbes Field.

It was a walk-off inside-the-park grand slam. The Pirates trailed the Chicao Cubs, 8-5, in the bottom of the ninth. Clemente hit the ball off a light tower stanchion against eventual Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jim Brosnan. The ball scoooted along the cinder warning track. And Clemente ran through third base coach Bobby Bragan’s stop sign to score and end the game. . .9-8, Pirates.

—VOTTO’S TWILIGHT ZONE: Sometimes it appears that Joey Votto is an alien from another planet. When MLB asked on Twitter, “Drop your boldest NL Central prediction,” Votto replied:

“Extra-terrestrials arrive on Earth, April 15th. The 12-2 Reds and the rest of the planet learn from, communicate with, and learn from our alien friends. This process takes five months. Play returns in October. Reds sweep the playoffs and are World Series champions.

“Side note: Aliens ask if I’d like to accompany them back to their planet. I oblige. Never to be heard from again.”

Don’t be surprised if Votto wears a tin foil batting helmet this season.

—HUNT-ING BODY BLOWS: When Ron Hunt played for the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers, he was ‘A Walking Bruise.’ His favorite colors were black-and-blue.

He was a master at getting hit by a pitch. . . .a record 243 times for his career, a record 50 times in one season and a record three times (tied) in one game. And he did it with none of the body armor they were today that turns a hitter fearless.

As he once said, “Some people give their bodies to science, but I give mine to baseball.”

Hunt’s approach: “View being hit in a positive light. You will be getting on base and helping your team as well as improving your on-base percentage.” (Yeah, easy for him to say.)

—CONFERENCE CALLS: An ESPN panel of four college basketball gurus is predicting the outcomes of all 32 Division I conference tournment winners. The panel includes bracketologist Joe Lunardi, an honorary member of the Dayton Agonis Club. By a vote of 3-1, the panel picks Dayton to win the Atlantic 10. The other vote went to VCU.

The four guys unanimously picked 11 teams, including Youngstown State in the Horizon and Kent State in the MAC.

The other nine unanimous picks: Houston (AAC), Vermont (American East), Yale (Ivy), Iona (MAAC), San Diego State (Mountain West), Colgate (Patriot), Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Southland), Oral Roberts (Summit) and Grambling (SWAC).

Educated guess. If they get six right they’ll be fortunate. Upsets in conference tournaments are a penny a baker’s dozen.

A CUPCAKE WITH DOUBLE ICING: For some strange reason, Gonzaga scheduled a non-conference game Wednesday night against Chicago State. University of Dayton transfer Elijah Weaver is averaging 12.5 points a game for Chicago State, which is 11-18 with most of its wins coming against schools that I was surprised to discover fielded basketball teams. Gonzaga is 25-5 and No. 10 in the AP poll.

Not surprisingly, Gonzaga was 27 1/2-point favorites. I would not spot 27 1/2 points to the Little Sisters of the Free Throw Line.

Gonzaga won by 39, 104-65, but I still wouldn’t spot anybody 27 1/2 points.

—A PUSH AND A SHOVE: The Philadelphia Eagles came up with a rugby-like play last season for quarterback Jalen Hurts. When he employs a quarterback sneak on short yardage plays, the runnigback shoves him from behind. The play succeeded in 29 of the 32 times the Eagles used it.

Until 2005, shoving a ball carrier from behind was illegal. The NFL took it off the books that year and nothing was thought of it. . .until the Eagles used it.

Now, 18 years later, the NFL is considering making the push-the-ball carrier play illegal again.

Why? Because opposing defensive co-ordinators are sniffing that they can’t stop it. Hey, guys, man up.

—AM-BUSCHED: Less than 24 hours before NASCAR’s Pennzoil 400 in Las Vegas, Kyle Busch’s back-up car was in more pieces than a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle.

The No. 18 Toyota was a shell of a car, a frame and nothing else. Not even an engine. But his crew needed to put it together because Busch’s number one car was destroyed.

In seven hours, the crew hammered the car together and Busch led the race with three laps to go. But a caution flag intervened and he finished fourth.

Amazing. And to think, auto dealerships need seven days to find a rattle in my driver’s side window.

—GETTING PANCAKED: Walked into Sam & Ethel’s in Tipp City for breakfast last Sunday and the hostess asked my name.

“McCoy,” I said. And she said, “Oh, I’m a Hatfield.” I turned to Nadine and said, “We’re out of here. I don’t want arsenic in my omelette.”

But we stayed. I ordered a Western Omelette and two pancakes. The Hatfield lady said, “Two pancakes? Have you eaten here before?”

I assured her I had. Then when the pancakes arrived, I remembered. They were the size of the left front tire on Kyle Busch’s race car. I ate one.


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