OBSERVATIONS: Was This Why The Reds Signed Candelario?

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, refusing to let the old man in, even though he’s knocking at my door. I’m looking out my window and smiling.

—WHY, WHY, WHY?: One has to wonder, “What was he thinking?” Most likely he wasn’t thinking at all because he may have destroyed his just-started career.

Cincinnati Reds infielder Noelvi Marte was suspended 80 games by MLB after testing positive for Boldenone, a banned PED.

Not only did it cost him what probably would have been the starting third base job, but he won’t be paid the 80 games worth of his $740,000 salary.

Marte, acquired from Seattle in the Luis Castillo trade, made his Reds debut last year in early August and hit .316 over 35 games with 15 RBI and six stolen bases.

And the conspiracy theorists wonder if the Reds knew this was coming when they signed third basseman Jeimer Candelario? Makes sense, right?

—A FUTURE ARM: If you are wondering about future pitchers that might occupy the Great American Ball Park mound in the not faraway future, well fans that inhabit Day Air Ball Park in Dayton know about him.

And as an invitee to major league spring training camp he is demanding attention. In three innings he struck out four and has displayed uncommon poise, plus knowing how to put on a baseball uniform and a pair of spikes in a professional manner.

His name is Julian Aguiar, 22, a 12th-round draft pick in 2021. He was the Reds’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season and was dazzling last season at High-A Dayton. He pitched 70 1/3 innings for the Dragons with a 1.92 earned run average and was picked for the Midwest League All-Star team.

Then he was promoted to Class AA Chattanooga and finished the season with the most innings pitched by a Reds minor leaguer (125), had the second most minor league wins (8) and third lowest ERA (2.31). His slider is checked as a plus on the reports and his fastball hovers in the mid-90s.

He is listed as the Reds No. 16 prospect but the guess here is that he soon will hit single digits. Said Nick Krall, president of baseball operations:

“He has pitched well this spring. He made strides last season. He showed excellent poise in his first big-league camp and competes well. His stuff continues to improve and he has a chance to be a quality big-league pitcher in the near future.”

—TERRIFIC TRIO: Another gem from Jeff Singleton (And, Jeff, the check got lost at the post office):

Only three players in MLB history finished their careers with a .300 average, more than 500 home runs and more than 3,000 hits. The first two are slam dunks: Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.

The third? Miguel Cabrera, a for-sure first-ballot Hall of Famer when he lands on the ballot.

—QUOTE: From future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera: “I have a glove. I’ll play anywhere.” (Is that like what Palidin said, “Have gun, will travel?”)

—JUST THREE ME: The Cincinnati Reds engage in a three-point shooting contest during spring training at their Goodyear complex.

The winner this year? New Dayton Dragons manager Vince Harrison, a 1998 Cincinnati Princeton High School graduate and brother to Reds outfielder Josh Harrison.

Does Vince have any eligibility left? Maybe the UD Flyers could use him for the Atlantic 10 tournament, giving them a double-threat at threes with him and Koby Brea, the nation’s No. 1 three-point percentage shooter (49.7%).

—A McCOY PLOY: When I was a kid, my dad used to sing a song he wrote pertaining to the Charles Darwin theory and it was entitled, “A Monkey’s No Relation To Me.”

I bring this up because there was a boxer named Kid McCoy, no relation to me. But my grandpa used to tell me a story about a ploy used by McCoy.

During a clinch, The Kid would say to his opponent, “Your shoe is untied.” When the foe loooked down, McCoy would deliver an uppercut that put the guy on the canvas.

Fellow fighter Gentleman Jim Corbett was aware of what McCoy did and when McCoy said, “Your shoe is untied,” Corbett didn’t look down. He delivered a left hook to the jaw that put McCoy on the canvas. Corbett then looked down and said to McCoy, “While you’re down there, tie my shoe.”

And that stupidity is why I say that Kid McCoy was no relation to me, right dad?

—LOOKING FOR LONGSHOTS: In my long, long life, I have had one mint julep. Make that one sip. Yech.

But I love the Kentucky Derby, one major event I’ve never covered. It is on my bucket list, but my bucket has a hole in it.

The 150th Kentucky Derby unfolds this year and I would wager on the three longest shots in the 20-horse field. These are babies, 3-year-olds who have barely learned to make four left turns. Anything can happen.

Take the 2022 Derby. Rich Strike, an 80-to–1 pick, started in the farthest gate from the rail, the 21st. He only got into the race at the last minute when the No. 20 horse pulled out.

For the first mile he saw 14 swishing tails, 15th place. On the final turn, he darted to the rail and became Secretariat, passing ‘em all.

A freak? You betcha. He hasn’t won a race since.

—THE (ALMOS) COMEBACKERS: This is what the three-point line has done for basketball. . .or as Yogi Berra always said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

The Dayton Flyers’ comeback from 17 points down in the first 10 minutes of a game against VCU to win in overtime was, and still is, a much-ballyhooed story.

But Indiana State almost did it even better in the finals of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.

Indiana State trailed Drake by 18 points with ony 10 minutes left in the game. The Sycamores went on a 21-1 run in six minutes and actually took a 74-73 lead.

But Drake recovered with a late 10-2 run of its own to ruinate Indiana State’s comeback to win, 84-80, and grab an NCAA tournaament spot.

Iowa fell behind IIlinois by 20 in the first half, 31-11, but cut it to single digits just before halftime before losing, 73-61.

—QUIRKY QUOTES: Some things they wish they never said, but did:

From Kevin Mitchell to pitcher Larry Luebbers before his first start: “What’s your name, Luger? You better not have me running all over the outfield or I’ll shoot you with a Luger.”

From Enos Slaughter on the cheapness of club executive Branch Rickey: “He would go into the vault to get you change for a nickel.”

From Dodgers outfielder Pedro Guerrero on a teammate’s throwing yips: “First I pray to God that nobody hits the ball to me, then I pray to God that nobody hits the ball to Steve Sax.”

From Reggie Jackson on what he thinks about while trying to break out of a slump: “You’re like a mosquito in a nudist camp. You don’t know where to start.”

From Ken Brett on playing on a bad team: “Our 1976 Chicago White Sox team was so bad that (owner) Bill Veeck began selling hot dogs to go in the fifth inning.”

—THE SWEET TOOTH: Which candy bar as a youth, when they were as big as your hand and not, as now, as small as your middle finger: Hershey’s, Hershey’s with almonds, Clark Bar, Snicker’s, Three Musketeers, Powerhouse, Milky Way, Butterfinger?

—PLAYLIST NO. 28: If I repeated any, forgive me. I’m 83.

Gonna Miss You Old Friend (Cledus T. Judd), (Crimson And Clover (Tommy James), I Fall To Pieces (Patsy Cline), It’s A Heartache (Bonnie Tyler), I’ll Stand By You (The Pretenderss), I Just Died In Your Arms (Cutting Crew), It’s All Coming Back To Me Now (Meat Loaf), True Love Ways (Buddy Holly), Let It Be Me (Everly Brothers), Story Of My Life (Social Distortion).

W.O.L.D. (Harry Chapin), Some Day We’ll Be Together (Diana Ross & The Supremes), Lost In Love (Air Supply), I Can See Clearly Now (Johnny Nash), Mother (Pink Floyd), Stay (Sugarland), The Rose (Bette Midler), She Believes In Me (Kenny Rogers), Old Man (Neil Young), The Lion Sleeps Tonight (The Tokens).

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