OBSERVATIONS: Reds Ready for Boston Tea Party?

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, wondering if the Cincinnati Reds rapid ascent is for real or are they temporarily a bunch of Alices in Wonderland

—OFF TO BUNKER HILL: So it is all a matter of perspective, or in real estate jargon, “Location, location, locations.”

After taking Memorial Day off, the Cincinnati Reds embark on their baseball version of Bunker Hill, a three-gane series in Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox.

Perspective and location? Boston is 28-25 and in fourth place in the American League East, 9 1/2 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Reds are 24-29 and in third place in the National League Central, four games behind the Milwaukee Brewers. If the Reds were in the AL East, they would be entrenched in last place, 13 1/2 games behind the Rays.

Perspective and location? At 24-29, the Reds have a better thn the San Diego Padres (24-30). The Padres payroll is $251.1 million and the Reds payroll is $82.6 million, which shows money can’t buy happiness nor success in baseball.

The top four Padres contracts exceed the Reds’ total payroll: Xander Bogaerts $25 million, Yu Darvish $24 million, Juan Soto $23 million, Joe Musgrave $20 million. That’s $92 million for four guys to Cincinnati’s $82.6 million total payroll.

The highest paid Reds are not playing. Joey Votto, on the season-long injured list, makes $25 million, nearly one-third of the team’s payroll. And they are still paying Ken Griffey Jr. his $3.6 million a year in deferred payments.

After that, the highest-paid Reds are utility player Kevin Newman at $2.5 million and pitcher Luke Weaver at $2 milllion.

And what are the best players being paid? It’s shocking: Hunter Greene, $1.3 million; Jonathan India, $760,000; Jake Fraley, $740,000; Tyler Stephenson, $740,000; Alexis Diaz, $730,000; Stuart Fairchild, $722,500; TJ Friedl, $722,500; Spencer Steer, $720,000; Matt McLain, $720,000.

—QUOTE(S): From the baseball movie Major League:

Janice Bowden: “I hear baseball players make awfully good salaries nowadays.”

Catcher Jake Taylor: “Well it all depends on how good you are.”

Janice Bowden: “How good are you?”

Jake Taylor: “I make the league minimum.”

—HAPP NOT HAPPY: How does a team go 4 for 17 with runners in scoring position and still win? That’s what the Reds did Sunday and still won, 8-5.

It was against the Chicago Cubs and that pretty much explains it.

Chicago’s Ian Happ, the utlimate Reds killer, went 1 for 11 in the three-game series, struck out five times and stranded four runners.

THE MERCENARIES—From all I’ve heard, Amari Cooper is a great kid. But he is emblematic of what’s wrong with the transfer portal. So far, Cooper has played basketball at Wisconsin-Green Bay, Missouri, Wright State and is now transferring to the University of Tampa.

The weak NCAA should re-institute the rule that if a player transfers he has to sit out a year. That would put a stop to the mercenary players changing schools like they change their Fruit of the Looms. But these days the NCAA is powerless and feeble.

—OH, WILBUR: A baseball writer once described a player this way: “There isn’t anyone in the major leagues who looks less like a ballplayer. He’s a pot-bellied guy with thinning blond hair, blue eyes and a pleasant round face. Soft-spoken with a distinct Boston accent, he has a sense of humor he would often display around teammates.”

Who is he describing?

That would be knuckleball pitcher Wilbur Wood, of whom the same writer, Edgar Munzel of the Chicago Sun-Times, called the Rodney Dangerfield of baseball pitchers. No respect.
From 1971 through 1974 he won 20 or more games four times — 22, 24, 24 and 20, the most wins by any major league pitcher in those four seasons.

In 17 years he won 164 games, pitched 114 complete games and 24 shutouts. In those days of a four-man rotation, Wood made 49 starts in 1972.

In 1973, he was 24-20, the first pitcher to win 20 and lose 20 since Walter Johnson went 25-20 in 1916 for the Washington Senators. And it hasn’t been done since.

In one game in 1973, he entered a game against Cleveland in the 17th inning and at one stretch struck out 14 of 15 hitters. But the Indians got to him in the 22nd inning and beat him.

—JUDGE-MENT DAY: Everybody knows good Aaron Judge is with a baseball bat in his hands. He hits baseballs so far they issue air raid warnings in the next county.

But the guy is a sorcerer with the glove, enaacting more robberies than John Dillinger. And Judge does it legally.

On Memorial Day, he hit two home runs against Seattle and leaped above the right field wall to take away a home run from Teoscar Hernandez.

So who are the last five players to hit a home run and rob an opposing player of a home run in the same game. They are Miike Tauchman of the Chicago Cubs, Aaron Judge, Aaron Judge, Aaron Judge and Aaron Judge.

—QUOTE: From New York Yankees superstud Aaron Judge: “You have to earn your job every day.” (He does that every day, and knocks opposing pitchers out of their jobs.)

—FORD OR GOODMA: Somebody asked me, “If they made a movie and your character was in it, who would you want to play you?”

That’s easy. Harrison Ford. I always liked leather jackets and fedoras (Indiana Jones). But they’d probably give the part to John Goodman.

—QUOTE: From movie star Harrison Ford: “It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage.” (For sure. After traveling coast-to-coast with the Reds for 37 years, my personal odometer had to be replaced six times.

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