By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, proud to be down 31 pounds and wondering if I should celebrate with a couple of ball part hot dogs. Maybe I can order a couple of Dodger Dogs.
—LITTLE BIG MAN: Houston’s Jose Altuve is 5-foot-6, if they measure while while he is standing on three stacked bases. But he has the power of Mighty Mouse (if you rememer Mr. Mouse).
On Tuesday, Altuve hit home runs in each of the first three innings. Perhaps the only reason he didn’t hit one in the fourth was that he didn’t bat in the fourth.
And to top it off, he hit five homers in six at bats over two games. Just think what he might do when he grows up.
So while perusing home run records while doing reserach, I ran across some interesting stuff…at least to me.
Fifty-nine players have hit two home runs in one inning. It has only been done twice by Reds players, Aaron Boone and Ray Knight.
Several former Reds have done it for other teams: Edwin Encarnacio (Blue Jays, Mariners), Reggie Sanders (Pirates), Lee May (Astros), Mike Cameron (Mariners), Bret Boone (Mariners), Jim Edmonds (Cubs).
Amazingly, the Brothers Boone did it the same year and both in the first inning. When Bret did it for Seattle in May of 2002, Aaron did it in August of 2002.
Only five players hit two home runs in one inning twice — Encarnacion, Jeff King, Andre Dawson, Alex Rodriguez and Willie McGee.
The most amazing of al is what was Fernando Tatis did. Not Tatis Jr. of the Padres. Tatis Sr. of the Cardinals. He hit two grand slams in one inning, eight RBI in one inning.
—QUOTE: You get one guess as to who said this: “I swing big, with everything I’ve got. I hit big or I miss big. I like to live as big as I can.” (Of course, none other than George Herman Babe Ruth.)
—CHOICE ROYCE: Speaking of home runs, when the bases are loaded, Minnesots rookie third baseman Royce Lewis’ eyes must get as big as silver dollar pancakes.
When he hit a grand slam on Labor Day against Cleveland, it was his third grand slam in eight days. And he hit one late last year, giving him four grand slams in 56 games.
And Cleveland needs to walk him, even if the base are loaded. Three of his four grand slams are against the Guardians.
If you believe three grand slams in eight days is something special, well, Jim Northrup of the 1968 Detroiit Tigers hit three grand slams in four days.
The latest Lewis ‘slam’ came in a game the Twins won, 20-6. Cleveland utiliy infielder David Fry pitched four innings and gave up seven runs and 10 hits. Credit the Cleveland media department with a sense of humor. The next day, they tweeted, “David Fry is not available to pitch tonight. ”
—WHAT’S ON THE TUBE?: While guest-appearing on baseball’s best show, MLB Central, former player Mike Lowell said “Right now, Elly De La Cruz is the closest thing to must-see TV as you’re going to get.”
Because ‘Yellowstone’ and ‘1923’ are not on right now, I agree.
—TIMELY DISCUSSIONS: Rob Manfraud can’t take any bows for being the first baseball commissioner to express concerns about the time and pace of games.
In 1955, commissioner Ford Frick formed a committee to examine ways to speed up play.
But it didn’t impress everybody, including National League president Warren Giles, who said, “The only complaints they hear about length of games come not from fans but from newspapermen who are bored with their jobs.”
Not me, Warren. Longer games gave me more time utilizing the ice cream machine in the media dining room.
By the way, Frick’s committee did not come up with a single idea to speed up pace.
—THE FLUTTERBALL: The knuckleball is back. After a three-year absence of the butterfly pitch, San Diego’s Matt Waldron is utiilizing the dancing, darting delivery that is not only difficullt to hit, but difficult to catch.
Some of the former practioners were Phil Niekro, Wilbur Wood, Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey.
Somebody once asked former MLB batting coach Charlie Lau how to hit a knuckler and he said, “There are two theories on how to hit knuckleballs. Unfortunately, neither of them work.”
Former catcher/broadcaster/comedian Bob Uecker was asked how he handled the knuckleball and he said, “It was easy. I waited until it stopped rolling and picked it up:
—THEY’VE ARRIVED: When new University of Colorado football coach Deion Sanders kept saying before the season, “We’re coming,” most skeptics said, “Yeah, when? 2030.”
When Sanders arrived, he cleaned out the roster on a team that won one game last year, told them in effect, “Get lost.” Then he brought in 80 of his own players from the transfer portal and junior colleges and some freshmen recruits.
For its opener, Colorado was a 21-point underdog at TCU, which played in last year’s national championship game.
Score: Colorado 45, TCU 42. Coach Prime’s son, Shedeur, threw for 510 yards and four touchdowns. Four different receivers caught passes for more than 100 yards.
So Colorado went from 21-point underdogs in Prime’s first game to No. 22 in the first week’s AP poll.
Comng? Looks as if Sanders and the Buffaloes have arrived.
—QUOTE: From Deion Sanders when he was playing baseball for the Cincinnati Reds and football for the Atlanta Falcons: “I’m married to football, baseball is my girl friend.”
—A TOAST TO TITO: Terry Tito Francona, one of my favorite baseball people, is retiring as manager of the Cleveland Guardians after this season and the baseball world will miss him.
Cleveland and the Cincinnati Reds share spring training facilities in Goodyear, Az. Some mornings I walked to the then-Indians clubhouse just to hear Francona’s media briefings, just to hear him and not seeking a story.
One night I was with a group in Donovan’s Steakhouse in Phoenix and the server plopped a drink in front of me that I didn’t order. “Compliment of the gentleman in the corner,” he said. I looked and it was Francona.
When I was a teen-ager, my favorite player was Tito Francona, Terry’s dad. He played first base for the Indians and I played first base. Some of my teammates called me Tito.
I told this story to Francona and he thanked me profusely as if I had just told him he won Manager of the Year.
—LAST MAN STANDING: Speakng of Cleveland, a writer once did some deep digging and discovered that in the midst of pitchng legend Bob Feller’s career, he had struck out every American League regular player but Birdie Tebbetts.
Rapid Robert, as he was called, struck out Ted Williams a few times, but not Birdie Tebbetts.
So the writer called Feller and said, “Did you know that Birdie Tebbetts is the only player you have not struck out?”
Said Feller, “No. But I will.”
And he did.