OBSERVATIONS: All Aboard With Elly De La Cruz

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, still blurry-eyed after a visit to the eye doctor. . .those eye drops are killers.

—HE HAS A TICKET TO RIDE: Yes, he is only 22. Yes, he has only played in the majors for little more than a season.

But Elly De La Cruz is on a set of iron rails on a straight line to Cooperstown. Sure, there might be some side tracks on the way, but barring debilatating injuries, this kid is carrying a non-stop passport in his back pocket along with his kitchen mittens.

It is not a stretch to say that fans already are going to the ball park not to see the Cincinnati Reds, but to see De La Cruz. . .The Elly Element.

So many times this season, when Elly goes 0 for 4, the Reds lose. When he gets on base a couple of times, steals a couple of bases, the Reds win.

He has 45 stolen bases, most ever for a Reds player before the All-Star break. He hits home runs that are tracked by air traffic control at the Greater Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport. He covers more ground at shortstop than Alexander The Great on his conquering marches.

And Elly is learning Japanese so he can converse with Shohei Ohtani at the All-Star game. That makes him a five-tool, three-language (Spanish, English, Japanese) player. With his talent, he probably can learn Latin in a week.

The Elly Element.

—THE COORS EFFECT: When Cincinnati’s Rece Hinds hit that masssive upper deck home run Monday in his major league debut, Rece’s home run was smashed to pieces.

It was 449 feet and everybody said it was the second longest home run hit by a player making his major league debut.

Who hit the longest? It took some research, but I finally found it. It was Colorado Rockies outfielder Sam Hilliard and it traveled 455 feet.

It was Coors Field on August 27, 2019, so should it count? The distance was not mentioned on the TV telecast and not mentionned in game stories.

Maybe that’s because there were six homers hit that day and Boston’s J.D. Martinez launched one 479 feet. Coors Field, right?

Anyway, with his second home run, Hinds passed Hilliard’s distance with a 458-footer. And it wasn’t hit in Coors.

—SIMPLY THE BEST: Speaking of being only 22, the best pro basketball player in the world is 22. SHE is 22.

It’s Caitlin Clark, the only pro basketball player I’d pay to see, other than UD products Obi Toppin, Toumani Camara and DaRon Holmes II.

In a recent WNBA game for the Indiana Fever, she became the league’s first-ever rookie to record a triple-double.

She had 19 points 12 rebounds and 13 assists in the 22nd game of her pro career. She had 17 triple-doubles during her collegiate career at Iowa.

Her assists display her unselfishness and she is the best passer on a basketball court since Bob Cousy or Pistol Pete Maravich.

In those 22 games, she scored 350 points and passed out 150 assists, the quickest any WNBA rookie attained those numbers.

Like De La Cruz, she is must-see.

—HIGH COMPANY: The NBA is discovering what University of Dayton’s Flyer Faithfu knew all along: Obi Toppin is cut from silk cloth.

He did something last season that only one other player has done in NBA history and that ‘other’ guy is LeBron James.

Obi and LeBron are the only players to make more than 100 three-pointers, shoot better than 40% on threes and shoot 55% on all field goal attempts.

Now if the Indiana Pacers realize that Obi is a starter and should not have to come off the bench to do all this, we’d all be happy.

And the thinking here is that DaRon Holmes II is going to show the fans in Denver what UD basketball players can do.

—CAN’T TOP THIS: When the Seattle Mariners brought up Ken Griffey Jr., ‘The Kid’ from Cincinnati Moeller High School, he was 19 years old.

And what did he do? On his first at bat in the Kingdome he hit a home run. Of course he did.

The Mariners signed 40-year-old Ken Griffey Sr. so he and Junior could play in the same outfield. Senior played left and Junior played center. There was a fly ball hit directly at Senior and Junior cut in front of him and snagged it.

“And for that,” said Senior, “I took away his car keys.”

There was the day that Senior hit a home run and Junior, batting behind him, hit one, too. Of course, since a father-son have never played on the same team, it was a first.

“The pressure was all on me,” said Junior. “All he had to do was hit one. But then I had to follow and hit one. More pressure.”

Senior smiled and said, “Ol’ dad’s went farther.”

—COMMON THIEVERY: While the Cincinnati Reds lead MLB in stolen bases, led by Captain Speed, disguised as Elly De La Cruz, it isn’t likely they’ll break the all-time team season record.

That was set in the dark ages, 347 by the 1911 New York Giants. But a team managed by affable Chuck Tanner came close. His 1976 Oakland A’s, led by Billy North’s 74 swipes, stole 341.

—LET HIM PLAY ONE: Hall of Famer Ernie Banks was fond of standing behind the batting cage in Wrigley Field before Chicago Cubs games and saying, “It’s a great day in Wrigley. Let’s play two.”

Banks, though, would have liked to just play one game in the post-season. He never did. Not once in his 19 seasons as Mr. Cub did he play in a post-season game.

It is one record he wishes he didn’t own: 2,528 games in the majors without taking a single swing in a post-season game.

—SLEPT LIKE BABES: When Danny Murtaugh managed the Pittsburgh Pirates, he liked to tell writers a spirng training story about when he was a player.

He and roommate Ernie White spent an entire night on the prowl spending the $700 Murtaugh won at a race track. After carousing all night, they went directly to the ball park in the morning.

Manager Billy Southworth asked, “Have a good night’s sleep, fellas?”

“Yes, sir. Like newborn babes,” said Murtaugh.

Said Southworth, “That’s good. I was afraid something might have happened to you guys when that 18-wheeler crashed through the middle of your room at your motel.”

—WHERE? WHEN?: For those who watch the news on WDTN (channel 2) in Dayton: Do you have any idea when the Summer Olympics begin and on what station they can be watched?

You do know, for sure, because they only promote it day-after-day and hour-after-hour and I’ve seen more video of the Eiffel Tower in one week than I’ve seen of my great grandkids in a year.

—PLAYLIST NUMBER 71: Some of these are my ‘middle of the road’ selections:

Chain Gang (Sam Cooke), I’m Sorry (Brenda Lee), Silence Is Golden (Tremeloes), Revolution (The Beatles), Mrs. Robinson (Simon & Garfunkel), Go Rest High On That Mountain (Vince Gill), I Won’t Back Down (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers), Sad Eyes (Robert John).

Show Me The Way (Styx), Bat Out Of Hell (Meat Loaf), How Do You Talk To An Angel (The Heights), Tuff Enuff (Fabulous Thunderbirds), Mr. Bojangles (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), Goodbye Stranger (Supertramp), I Swear (John Michael Montgomery).

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