OBSERVATIONS: Votto Unemplyed But Confident He’ll Find A Job

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave and at 83 years old this is a quote written by C.S. Lewis and provided by my great Sarasota friend, Tom Melzoni: “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” That is something for which I strive.

—NO JOY FOR JOEY: For Joey Votto, silence isn’t golden. His cellphone is not chirping with calls from major league baseball teams.

After 17 years with the Cincinnati Reds and a Hall of Fame career, Votto is unemployed and job-seeking.

It is mid-January, about a month before the spring training gates swing open, and Votto is still locked out. But he remains non-plussed.

He did receive a phone call from The Athletic. . .no, not the Oakland Athletics. It was from C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic web-site and Votto told him he is hitting, working out and is ever ready to play ball. All he needs is the right phone call.

“I will be at spring training, that’s where my head is at. Maybe I’m completely disconnected from this new reality and maybe I’m oblivious to where I really am,” said Votto. “ But I just don’t feel concerned about it. As long as I’m feeling strong and healthy, this is a good place to be.”

It won’t be a good place to be if he is sitting at home when spring training commences. What’s the old song by Jimmy Buttet, “If The Phone Doesn’t Ring, It’s Me.”

—QUOTE: From Joey Votto on social media: “The Care Bears are intrigued. They need a Grumpy Bear.” (No, he didn’t mean the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago Bears or the Memphis Grizzlies.)

—DUBIOUS DISTINCTION: The Cincinnati Reds now find themselves squatting in a dubious position. They are the franchise with the longest stretch of not winning a postseason game in all four major sports.

When the Detroit Lions beat the Los Angeles Rams, 24-23, it was Detroit’s first playoff win since 1991.

The Reds? They last won a postseason game on October 6, 1995, a 10-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 3 of the National League Division Series. David Wells beat Hideo Nomo and Ron Gant got things in gear for the Reds win in the first inning with a two-run home run that scored Barry Larkin.

Since then, not a whisper of a win. The Reds advanced to the National League Championship Series and were swept by the Atlant Braves.

And here are the teams with the longest winless streaks in the other major sports: NFL- Miami Dolphins (2000), NBA – Charlotte Hornets (2002), NHL – Buffalo Sabres (2007)

In baseball, the next longest after the Reds are the Chicago White Sox (2005), ten years ahead of the Reds.

—QUOTE: From Derek Jeter: “Good teams make the playoffs, hot teams win the playoffs.” (The Reds have to get good before they can get hot.)

—WHO CASHES IN?: That’s an interesting dynamic going on between infielder Jonathan India and the Cincinnati Reds.

The Reds reached a salary/contract agreement with all of their arbitration-eligible players except one. Jonathan India. Deals were made with Lucas Sims, Tejay Antone, Alex Young, Jake Fraley and Tyler Stephenson. But not India.

India wants a one-year $4 million contract. The Reds offered $3.2 million. No agreement was reached so the case goes to impartial arbitration.

There will be no compromise in either direction. Either India gets his $4 million if he wins or the Reds pay him $3.2 million if they win. Hey, what’s $800,000 between friends?

An opinion: The Reds hope to keep India’s salary down because that makes him even more attractive to other teams in a possible trade.

—CHANEY’S ONE UPMANSHIP: In our previous episode, I recounted a couple of stories about encounters with the gruff Bob Gibson by Pete Rose and Dusty Baker.

Darrell Chaney, a former Cincinnati Reds outstanding utility player with a magical glove and great friend, provided a good one.

“Gibby was the pitching coach for the Braves when I was a broadcaster,” said Chaney. “He said to me, ‘Chaney, I hit more home runs in my career than you.’

“I said, ‘You should have, you played every fifth day.’” Darrel didn’t disclose if he ran for cover after that pithy reply.
—GIBBY’S GAMBITS: And the Gibson stories caused Dave Parker (No, not the Cobra) to send along these incredible Bob Gibson numbers from 1968 when he posted a 1.12 earned run average:

In 34 starts, he had 32 quality starts (three or few run in six innings), 28 complete games. 13 shutouts that included five in a row, from June 6 to July 30, he won 11 straight starts, all complete games and allowed only three runs.

And he threw about 1,000 brushback pitches.

Because of all that, MLB lowered the pitching mound from 15 inches high to 10 inches.

All-Star outfielder Hawk Harrelson remembers those days of mountain-top mounds and said, “I remember 1968. It felt like every pitcher was right on top of you. It didn’t seem as if they were 60 feet, 6 inches away. It felt like they were 40 feet away.”

—THE DUST(Y) DIDN’T CLEAR: They barely cleared the debris from Dusty Baker’s ‘retirement’ party when he unretired.

Baker stepped in to polish the Houston Astros tarnished image from the trash can-banging sign-stealing controvery. He managed the Astros to a World Series win 2022.

And he took them to the playoffs last season, then retired in October after Houston was ousted from the playoffs. But it will be announced this week that Baker is rejoining the San Francisco Giants as a special assistant.

The 74-year-old former Reds manager took the Giants to the 2002 World Series and lost to the Los Angeles Angels.

It is the perfect place for Baker. The Giants offered him the opportunity to watch his son Darren’s college games at Cal-Berkeley. And Dusty owns a home near Sacrement, where he grows grapes for his own wine.

But it is Dusty who ages like fine wine.

—PLAYLIST NO. 9: One would think that with so many playlists so far that I would run out of favorite songes. Well. . .no.

Jessie’s Girl (Rick Springfield), Woman (John Lennon), Look Away (Chicago), Got To Get A Message To You (BeeGees), At The Hop (Danny & The Juniors), Do You Want To Dance (Bobby Freeman), Get A Job (Silhouettes), Tears On My Pillow (Little Anthony & The Imperials), Peggy Sue (Buddy Holly). Hang On Sloopy (The McCoys),

Still (The Commodores), Coward Of The County (Kenny Rogers), Simply The Best (Tina Turner), Hall of Fame (The Script), Stay (Maurice Williams), Come Go With Me (Del Vikings), Do You Love Me (The Contours), You’re Still The Same (Bob Seger), I’d Love You To Want Me (Lobo).

—MORE BADDIES: Some readers’ contrtibutions to songs that force them to snap off the car radio:

Tip-Toe Through The Tulips (Tiny Tim), Western Union (Five Americans), Henry The Eighth (Herman’s Hermits), Surfin’ Bird (The Trashmen), Yummy, Yummy, Yummy (Ohio Expess), Kung Foo Fighting (Carl Douglas), Brand New Key (Melanie), Alley Oop (Hollywood Argyles), YMCA (Villlage People).

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