By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave and a warning to the Reds, “Don’t pay much attention to the Milwaukee Brewers, but watch out for the onrushing Chicago Cubs.
—ONE IN A MILLION: Never in 50 years of chronically the Cincinnati Reds have I written about anything like Friday night in Great American Ball Park, a baseball game For the Ages.
While I’ve written more than 25,000 baseball stories, nothing approaches the Reds’ 11-10 win over the Atlanta Braves.
Maybe Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. Close, but no.
Maybe Tom Browning’s perfect game. Close, but no.
Maybe Pete Rose’s 4,192nd hit. Close, but no.
How many times does a team give up five runs in the first inning and win? Hardly ever.
How many times does a teams come back from a 5-0 sinkhole to tie the game, then see the other team score two the next inning to take a 7-5 lead and still win? Not often.
How often do you see the other team hit five home runs, including three in one inning, and the other team still wins? Not often.
How often do you see a team get outhit, 16-9, and still win? Not often.
How many times do you see a 39-year player miss 10 months and came back to play little more than a week and hit two home runs, as Joey Votto did? Not often.
How many times have you seen a 21-year-old rookie with little more than two weeks of major league experience hit for the cycle, as Elly De La Cruz did? Not ever.
It seems as if the 2023 Rallying, Relentless, Raucous, Runnin,’ Rock & Rolling Reds are a Team of Destiny.
And De La Cruz? He is making major league baseball child’s play. When they put that furry cape on him after home runs, he first has to take off his Superman’s cape.
—THANKS, COMMISH: The Cincinnati Reds owe Rob Manfraud, The Big Boss of Baseball, a gold-engraved thank you note, a box of Esther Price chocolates and a bouquet of two dozen roses — although he probably doesn’t like to think about the word Rose.
Anyway, the Reds are thriving under this season’s New Rules Baseball, as coined by Hall of Fame writer Jayson Stark. They’ve become the Runnin’ Reds, thanks to the king-sized pillows they are using for bases, the two-engagement rule on pitcher’s making pick-off throws and the clock that makes some pitchers rush their deliveries.
Last year the Reds slogged around the bases, station-to-station and were 28th in MLB in stolen bases, only 45 with 20 caught stealings.
So far this year, they’ve already stolen 83, second most in the majors, and have been caught 21 times. And there is no one player dominating the theft department. The Reds have five players in the top 90th percentile in speed.
No longer do they plod around the bases like tired oxen. They are near the top in going from first to home, from first to third and from second to home. In 66 tries, the Reds have scored from second base on singles 65 times.
Manfraud’s banning of the shift has helped the Reds, too, with their penchant for hitting singles and doubles and hitting the opposite way.
With their speed and their belligerent aggressiveness, the Reds force the defense to make plays, and make them post haste
General manager NIck Krall deserves plaudits for building a speed-oriented team through the draft and trades.
—QUOTE: From Hall of Fame base-stealer Lou Brock: “I don’t steal bases because I have to, I steal bases because I want to.” (The Reds, though, have to steal bases, or at least try.)
—START ‘EM UP: Now that the Reds’ 12-game streak is over, it is time to address the five elephants in the room. . .the starting pitchers.
With what the starting staff has done, or not done, it is a modern mircale that the Reds were able to win three in a row, let alone 12.
The starting staff is tattered and torn like a flag in a hurricane. Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Ben Lively and Connor Overton are on the injured list. And even when they are healthy and pitch, for the most part it is bombs bursting in air.
With the way manager David Bell has had to use his bullpen day after day after day, by August most of them won’t be able to reach for the deodorant on their locker shelves.
—TWENTY-FIVE SKIDOO: Joe Garagiola’s book title, ‘Baseball Is A Funny Game,’ is one of the most apropos baseball book titles ever.
Did you see this score: Los Angeles Angels 25, Colorado Rockies 1?
Just before heading to Denver, the Angels were shut out in back-to-back games by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Of course, the Rockies are not the Dodgers, but 25 runs?
The Angels scored 13 in one inning. Remember former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Chase Anderson? He gave up three home runs on three pitches, back-to-back-to-back by Mike
Trout, former Red Brandon Drury and Matt Thaiss.
—QUOTE: From Annie Savoy in the movie Bull Durham: “There are 108 beads in a Catholic Rosary. And there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I learned that, I gave Jesus a chance.” (The Rockies didn’t need baseballs, they needed Rosary beads.)
SOME SMACK TALK: Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Travis Kelce took umbrage at something Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase said on a recent podcast.
While discussing quarterbacks, Chase was supporting his own, Joe Burrow, and said, “Pat who?”
Said Kelce, “Shoutout to Ja’Marr Chase for holding it down for his QB, but don’t you ever disrespect Pat Mahomes. If you wanna talk your s—, talk your s—, pimp. Just better back it up.”
Hmmm. I’d say Joe Burrow more than backs it up. It’s defensive backs he backs up. And the Bengals have won three of the last four Burrow-Mahomes matchups.
—QUOTE: From Greek philosopher Epictetus: “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” (Perhaps Ja’Marr Chase and Travis Kelce both might listen more and speak less.)
—SOUND ADVICE: Words to live by (and I try) from my great friend Tom Melzoni in Sarasota: “Life is too short to waste time on people who don’t lift you up, or don’t inspire you — they’ll eventually drain you.” (Just remember, life has an expiration date, but it is not printed on your body.)