OBSERVATIONS: Dissection of a Six-Game Losing Streak

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, staring at the refrigerator that is full of Yuengling and Shiner Bock that I am not driinking during my diet. . .and it is painful.

ALL FOR ONE: Why does it seem that when one man slips into a slump, it runs through the clubhouse like a communicble disease? For the Cincinnati Reds, is has reached pandemic proportions during a six-game losing streak.

It is not certain who the host is, but somebody on the Reds contracted slumpitis and spread it through the clubhouse like measles in a nursery school.

The Reds are on a six-game losing streak and manager David Bell has so much on his plate there is no room for gravy.

The once explosive offense has a soaked wick and the CPR finishes, 33 come from behind finishes, have evaporated. They are facing various grades of pitching, but they all look like Randy Johnson, Clayton Kershaw and Justin Steele.

After a Hall of Fame start, Elly De La Cruz is just standing in the hall right now. He is 1 for 20 with 13 strikeouts. Low and away breaking pitches are his Waterloo. Right now, his glove is mightier than his bat.

And it isn’t just him. Tyler Stephenson is 1 for 21. TJ Friedl is 1 for 17 with eight strikeouts. His one hit is a bunt. Joey Votto is 2 for 20 with six strikeouts (five walks). Spencer Steer is 3 for 29, although he had two hits in Tuesday’s 11-10 loss.

During the six losses, Bell has continued to stage a wagon train procession of relief pitchers. He has used the bullpen 26 times in those six games and the relief pitchers have shown too much genorisity in issuing walks at inopportune times.

Bullpen usage is so heavy it would not be surprising to see a relief pitcher’s arm fall off as he trots in from the bullpen.

Mistakes on the basepaths are surfacing with regularity, as are defensive lapses, mentally and physically, all things fan didn’t see during the team’s rush toward the top of the standings.

If all good things come to an end, surely all bad things come to an end, too. It best be soon for the Reds.

—CROSSED MANY ‘BRIDGES:’ Remember a song sung by Willie Nelson (and others) called, ‘I’ve Been Everywhere?’

It wasn’t written by former major league infielder Rocky Bridges, but it could have. In 11 seasons he played for seven teams. His longest stint was with the Cincinnati Reds.

“I’ve had more numbers on my back than a bingo card,” he said. “It’s a good thing I spent four years in Cincinnati. It took me that long to learn how to spell it.”

—A HAIRY SITUATION: If former Reds President/General Manager Bob Howsam can see from his current underground location, he is probably spinning like an airplane propeller.

The Reds No. 1 draft pick, Rhett Lowder, has long, flowing hair down his back. In Howsam’s tenure, long hair, beards and mustaches belonged on paintings, not on players.

He probably would not have drafted the Wake Forest pitcher. If he did Lowder would be made to make an appointment with a barber before he had an appointment to sign a contract.

But that’s another sign of the times. Pitchers seem to believe their sliders and change-ups behave better if the pitcher has long locks, a scraggly beard and a stiff moustuche.

For some reason, you don’t see all that hair on most position players.

—RUN, RUN, RUN: For the conspiracy theorists, one wonders if MLB slipped in some juiced baseballs for Tuesday’s games. Juiced? In most games it seemed as if they were using Super Balls.

Some scored: 17-3, 16-13, 11-10, 11-10, 11-10, 10-3, 10-1 and 9-1. UPS missed its delivery to Fenway Park. Not onlyo did the Boston Red Sox not get the baseballs, they got shut out by the woeful Oakland A’s

Atlanta (13),Cincinnati (10), Chicago White Sox (10) and Detroit (10) all scored in double digits and got beat. It was the first time in mdern MLB history that four teams in one day scored in double figures and lost.

Pitching, pitching, pitching. Where is it?

—WHITE-OUT: From their inception in 1946 until 1950, the Cleveland Browns wore all-white helmets with no logos and no face masks.

It was when they were in the All-America Conference where they seldom lost a game against a riff-raff of disorganized franchises that couldn’t beat the Merchant Marines.

When the AAC folded and the Browns moved to the NFL, and kept winning, the switched to the orange helmets they’ve worn — with no logos — for 73 years.

Well, this season it is back to the future. For three games, they will wear white helmets. They won’t be all-white. They’ll have brown-and-orange stripes down the middle.

They will snap them on for the first time for Game 2 in Pittsburgh.

Unfortunately, the rest of the league will still recognize them.

—QUOTE: From the singer Sting, who won 17 Grammys, including one for the song ‘Every Breath You Take’: “I don’t understand American football at all. It looks like all-in wrestling with crash helmets.”

—The ‘STATE’ OF GOLF: From a long ago Sports Illustrated piece by Steve Rushin, when SI was worth reading, the exception these days is talented basketball writer Pat Forde:

“There were 15,300 golf courses in the U.S., covering 1,846,800 acres, more than twice the size of Rhode Island, a state that exists expressly to be demeaned in comparisons such as this.”

—QUOTE: From Hall of Fame golfer Ray Floyd: “They call it golf because the other four-letter words were taken.” (Wonder what par is for Rhode Island?)

—ELBAUM THE BOMB: I once became acquainted with a boxing promoter in my native Akron named Don Elbaum, an innovator, to say the least.

For one fight, he sold advertising from a restaurant on the bottom of a huge underdog’s shoes, figuring he would get knocked out and the advertisement would show on the bottom of his feet.

It backfired. To Elbaum’s dismay, the underdog knocked out the other guy, whose shoe soles were pristine.

Elbaum made a few enemies along the way, especially in Youngstown, known as Mobster City. He paid people to start his car for him.

—WORDS TO THE WISE: From former heavyweight boxer Randall ‘Tex’ Cobb: “If you screw things up in tennis, it’s 15-love. If you screw up in boxing, it’s your ass.” (Or at least you end up on it.)

—SMOKE OUT: Nadine won’t let me smoke cigars in her car. She isn’t convinced that if we break down we can use them as emergency flares.

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