OBSERVATIONS: Like Gathering Hay, In Baseball It’s All About Pitching

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, stupidly taping the Cleveland Browns- New York Jets Hall of Fame exhibition game to watch after the Cincinnati Reds-Chicago Cubs game when the Browns and Jets play nothing but rookies and second teamers. But I’m ready for some football.

—OF STANDING PAT: Branch Rickey, legendary club executive with the St. Louis Browns, St. Louis Cardinals, Brooklyn Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates, was never afraid to make a trade and would trade his maternal grandmother for a utility infielder if he thought the player was worth it.

He also knew when not to make a trade and often said, “Sometimes the best trades you make are the ones you don’t make.” And that quote is also attributed to Bill Veeck, but you get the point, right?

So that’s the mantra Reds GM Nick Krall must stick to now that the trade deadline passed and he pretty much remained status quo, even though the Reds should be desperate for starting pitchers.

He said he was on the phone all day talking trades, but as expected the other teams wanted a bank vault full of Reds players, including some on the 40-man roster. Krall said no.

Was it the right move? The next two months will reveal the answer, but to his credit Krall also was thinking about the path in future years. The guess here is that some deep evaluations will be done in the off-season and some trade and free agent decisions will be made.

One naturally wonders about what happened the next three games after the Reds did nothing to juice the rotation. The team gave up 41 runs in three games. . .FORTY-ONE!!!.They lost to the Cubs by 20-9, 16-6 and 5-3.

Who scores 18 runs in three games and loses by 23? Right now, the Reds rotation contains Faith, Hope and Charity. Manager David Bell needs to thumb the Bible and find: “Whom shall I send (to the mound?)” Isaiah 6:8
—QUOTE: From Branch Rickey after he broke the MLB color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson: “I cannot face my God much longer knowing that his black creatures are hold separate and distinct from his white creatures in the game that has given me all that I can call my own.”

—WHAT’S GOING ON?: On his first day in a Cincinnati Reds uniform, newly-acquired relief pitcher Sam Moll sat in the Wrigley Field visitor’s bullpen and watched the Chicago Cubs score 13 runs in the first inning against his new team and 20 for the game

On his second night he watched the Cubs score 16 against his new team. In both games, catcher Luke Maile pitched.

At some point, he had to turn to Alexis Diaz or Buck Farmer or Ian Gibaut and ask, “Am I still with the Oakland A’s?”

After the two terriflying defeats, Reds manager David Bell read right out of The Manager’s Manual as to what to say after a double train wreck.

In his post-game media interview after the second loss, he said, “Two tough games, that’s really all it is. We’re not going to make more of it than that. It’s not going to change who we are or where we are or anything about any individual on our team or who we are as a team. It’s that simple.”

Simple? Well, maybe. But the team lost again the next night and looked dismal doing it.

—OH THOSE ANALYTICS: While we’re at it, can somebody sneak into the Reds’ offices and throw beer all over their computers.

On Wednesday, manager David Bell (or the computer via analytics) decided to sit Jake Fraley, TJ Friedl and Ely De La Cruz because the Cubs were pitching a left-hander.

Nick Senzel played third in place of De La Cruz and made three errors and went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts. Stuart Fairchild played center field in place of Friedl and misplayed a deep fly ball into a two-run triple. Friedl pinch-hit for him in the sixth and homered, giving the Reds a 6-5 lead. But they lost, 16-6.

And once again, pitcher Sam Moll asked, “Am i still with the Oakland A’s?

No matter if the pitcher is left-handed, right-handed, ambidextrous, whilte, black, brown, yellow or blue, there is no way you can sit three of your best hitters and expect to win.

—LONG, LONG, LONG GONE: The Atlanta Braves are in pursuit of the single-season home run record, the 307 hit by the 2019 Minnesota Twins. The Braves haver hit 206.

What’s more impressive is that some of Atlanta’s home runs look like a guy hitting his driver at a golf driving range. They have hit 20 home runs that traveled 450 feet or more, the most since StatCast began tracking them in 2015. And they have two more months to endanger Delta flights circling over Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

But as Willie Mays once said, “I don’t measure ‘em, I just hit ‘em.”

—THEY’VE GIVEN UP: While the Reds have struggled mightily against fellow National Leauge Central Rivals, there is good news down the pike. Both Pittsburgh and St. Louis have thrown the white towel of surrenders by trading away good players.

And the Reds have 12 games remaining against the Pirates and Cardinals. The Reds have to play better against fellow NLC members. So far they are 14-22 against National League Central teams while the Milwaukee Brewers are 23-10 and the Chicago Cubs are 21-14.

—FRESH START FOR STARTERS: Two days after the trade deadline on Thursday, three traded pitchers made their debuts with new teams and all three won, any one of which would look good even in those dreadful black Reds City Connect uniforms.

The game in Miami was doubly interesting to Reds fans. Former Reds pitcher Michael Lorenzen made his debut for the Philadelphia Phillies against Miami and former Reds’ ace Johnny Cueto.

Then there was Max Scherzer making his Texas debut against the Chicago White Sox and Jack Flaherty made his Baltimore debut against Toronto.

Lorenzen’s Philly debut was a 4-2 win and he pitched eight innings and gave up two runs and six hits. Cueto was the loser for his six innings of four-run, five-hit pitching. The Marlins have lost all six of Cueto’s starts this season.

Scherzer also won, giving up three runs and seven hits while striking out nine in a 5-3 Texas win over the White Sox.

Flaherty pitched six innings of one-run, four-hit baseball with eight strikeouts and was the winner, 6-1, over Toronto.

—DOG-GONE IT: When Zack Greinke pitched for Milwaukee he was sitting on the bench when a teammate mentioned that an opposing hitter was a cat-lover.

“You can’t trust anyone who likes cats,” said the teammate.

“Yeah, man, you really can’t,” said Greinke.

“I like dogs, you got any, Zack?” the teammate asked.g
“Nah,” said Greinke. “I would never get dogs. I’ve got a cat, though.”

My three dogs, Paige, Quinn and Parker, are not Zack Grienke fans. But they wish they had seen Orel ‘Bullog’ Hershiser pitch. And they are big fans of the El Paso Chihuahuas.

—From former college basketball coach Tubby Smith on the transfer portal: “We’ve had 800 Division I basketball players transfer last year. C’mon. Teaching ‘em how to quit? That’s what we’re doing. Things not going well? Let’s quit.”

Let’s see. Smith coached at Tulsa, Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota, Texas Tech, Memphis and High Point. Geez, I never knew there is a transfer portal for coaches.

—WISE DECISIONS: Speaking of the transfer portal, they don’t have one for sports writers.

During the course of my 61-year sports writng career, I turned down job offers from the Washington Star, Houston Post, Kansas City Star, Cleveland Press and the Philadelphia Bulletin.

All those newspapers have one thing in common. They are all out of business, without my help of pushing them over the edge.

I’ve made about 10 wise decsisions in my life and that was five of them.

One thought on “OBSERVATIONS: Like Gathering Hay, In Baseball It’s All About Pitching”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *