OBSERVATIONS: Sweet Lou Should Have Known Better About Making Trades

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, back in action thanks to a new laptop and the quick work by James at Gem City Diagnostics in downloading all my data from the dead laptop to the new one:

—THE TRADE MARKET: Two of the worst trades the Cincinnati Reds ever made was to send Tony Perez to Montreal for Woodie Fryman and Dale Murray, and to send Paul O’Neill to the New York Yankees for Roberto Kelly.

Former Reds manager Lou Piniella had a hand in trading O’Neill and he should have known better.

When Piniella played for Kansas City, the Royals traded him to the New York Yankees to make room in their outfield for Jim Wohlford, a career .260 hitter who hit 21 home runs in 15 MLB seasons.

Wohlford later played for the San Francisco Giants in cold, windy Candlestick Park and came up with one of the great lines: “The only difference between Candlestick Park and San Quentin Prison is that at Candlestick they let you go home at night.”

And here’s one about Piniella. In high school at Tampa Jesuit, Sweet Lou had a sweet jumper on the basketball court. His senior year he averaged 32 points a game and scored 57 against Brandon High School.

—FISH OUT OF WATER: Pitcher Jim Hunter owned one of my favorite nickbames, Catfish Hunter. During his career he gave up 374 home runs. But 250 came with nobody on base.

Lou Piniella played right field in Yankee Stadium and once told Catfish, “You’ve given up so many damn home runs at Yankee Stadium I’ve gotten to know everyone in the front row of the bleachers on a first-name basis. They’ve declared those bleachers a hard hat zone.”

—LOB AND RUN: One of my favorite players is Milwaukee outfielder Christian Yelich, except when he continuously wreaks havoc on the Reds.

Why do I like him? He is what they call a gamer, does anything and everything to win a baseball game.

For example, on Monday night while he was on third base he noticed that Miami catcher Nick Fortes lobbed the ball back to the pitcher after pitches.

So when Fortes lobbed one, Yelich took off and stole home, the first straight steal of home by a Brewers baserunner since Scott Podsednik in 2003. Before his bold and blatnat bolt for home, Yelich had stolen 189 bases in his career. . .but never stole home.

I’ve noticed a lot of catchers just lob the ball and often wondered why a runner on third wouldn’t try to steal home. It is not surprising that Yelich did it.

—YOU COMPLETE ME: During the 1917 season, 10 MLB pitchers recorded 26 or more complete games. Relief pitchers were mere trinkets.

And guess who threw the most complete games that year? He pitched for the Boston Red Sox, his pitched 35 complete games and his name was Babe Ruth.

The others: Grover Cleveland Alexander (34), Fred Toney (31), Walter Johnson (30), Eddie Cicotte (29), Carl Mays (27), Jim Bagby (26), Dutch Leonard (26),Jesse Barnes (26).

And while on the subject of pitching, the two pitchers with the most 20-win seasons in the modern era are Warren Spahn and Christy Mathewson.

Sore arms? Whoever heard of a sore arm?

Of the current pitching legends, Justin Verlander has two during his 19-year career and both Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer have two 20-win seasons over 16-year careers.

And all three have endured arm and shoulder problems.

—A PIGPEN?: Ryan Weathers pitched a sterling game this week for the Miami Marlins. Weathers is a son to former Reds pitcher David Weathers. It reminded of seeing David playing catch with Ryan in the outfield befor Reds games when Ryan wasn’t yet a teen-ager.

It also reminded me of the time the Reds’ bullpen was struggling and I wrote, “It isn’t a bulllpen, it’s a pigpen.”

The next day David Weathers barged up to me waving a copy of my story and screaming, “So we’re a pippen, huh? A pigpen?”

Kent Mercker, also working in the bullpen, came to my rescue by saying, “Hal can call us a pigpen as long as he calls me the head hog.”

Thanks, Kent.

—THE OTHER BUCKEYES: Just after Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby, both signed out of the Negro Leagues to break MLB’s color barrier, attendance at Negro League games plummeted and the Negro Leagues died.

Just before that happened, the Cleveland Buckeyes won the Negro American League title with a 76-31 record in 1945. The Buckeyes played the legendary Homestead Grays of the Negro National League in the World Series. The Buckeyes won in a four-game sweep.

—A FAMILY TRIO: Joe DiMaggio is the most famous member of his family and why wouldn’t he be? He married Marilyn Monroe.

Joe, though, had two brothers who played in the majors at the same time he did, Dominic and Vince.

On March 10, 1940, the Cincinnati Reds and Boston Red Sox played a spring training game at Plant Field in Tampa. Vince played for the Reds and Dominic for the Red Sox.

Fittingly, both had a triple and a single as the Red Sox won, 13-10.

—LUXURY TAX: Once upon a time, Lisa Nehus Saxon covered the Los Angeles Dodgers for a suburban LA newspaper. But she was and is a Cincinnati Reds fan.

She no longer covers the Dodgers, but last weekend she took in a game when the Reds appeared in Dodger Stadium.

“And it cost me $500,” she wrote on social media. That was for two tickets, parking, one sandwich, a cup of french fries and a cup of ice cream.

Well, Lisa, they have to somehow pay Shohei Ohtani $700 million. And did you know it only cost $23 million to build Dodger Stadium in 1962?

—A LOSING LEAGUE: Can the Reds still make the playoffs, at least via the wild card?

It would seem so because the National League is top-heave with a few good teams and then there are a bunch of average/below average teams.

As of Tuesday, only five of the 15 NL teams owned winning records: Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Milwaukee and Chicago.

—CALL ME A PIGGY: When was the last time you saw a grown woman wearing pig-tails? The very lovely Lauren Shehadi, an MLB Central co-host with gorgeous black hair, wore pig-tails on a show this week.

She reminded me of Pippi Longstocking. OK, so I’m a chavinist pig.

—PLAYLIST NUMBER 53: So many songs in my heart:

Oklahoma Morning (Johnny Bench), Big Girls Don’t Cry (Four Seasons), My Girl (The Temptations), Kyrie (Mr. Mister), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (Gene Pitney), Lonely People (America), Baby Come Back (Player), Fooled Around And Fell In Love (Elvin Bishop).

I Want To Dance With Everybody (Drew Holcomb), The Long And Winding Road (Paul McCartney), Someone You Loved (Lewis Capardi), Silence Is Golden (The Tremeloes), Into The Night (Benny Mardones), 500 Miles (Orchard Park Church), Killing Me Softly (Roberta Flack)



One thought on “OBSERVATIONS: Sweet Lou Should Have Known Better About Making Trades”

  1. Often heard of “the modern era” in baseball stories. What is the line of demarcation for modern era and, what preceded it and why?

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