Thursday, June 27, 2013

News and notes from week 13

by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

On April 28th someone asked me my thoughts on the Pittsburgh Pirates being in first place. At the writing of this post, they’re tied for first with the St. Louis Cardinals. I said let’s see where they’re at on September 28 – the last day of the season. I’m still sticking to that statement.

I will say this much about the Bucs, Clint Hurdle should be considered for Manager of the Year.

Add the Texas Rangers to my list of the St. Louis Cardinals weaknesses from last week.

That was an impressive feat this past Sunday when Nik Wallenda walked a tightrope across an area of the Grand Canyon. Halfway out, Wallenda went to one knee until the winds calmed down, and to dodge the home run ball returning to Earth one day after Jay Bruce hit it.

Former Houston Astros pitcher Larry Anderson once told a story about a blast he’d given up to the Phillies Mike Schmidt. Anderson said that his manager walked to the mound, looked toward the area the ball landed and said, “Any ball hit that far ought to have a stewardess and an in flight movie!”

Jay Bruce’s slugging percentage from May 9 to June 23 was .689, his O.P.S. was 1.039, and his batting average was .311. The Oakland Athletics cooled him down.

Speaking of Oakland; the last American League team to win game 7 of the World Series after losing game 6 on the road was the 1972 Oakland A’s. Yeah, against the Reds.

Monday July 1 marks the 40th anniversary of the dramatic two out, three run, walk off homer Cincinnati’s pinch hitter Hal King hit off the Dodgers Don Sutton to give the Reds an improbable 4 – 3 win in the first game of a doubleheader. Prior to the comeback win the defending National League Champions were struggling with a 39 – 37 record. Here’s what the N.L. West standings looked like on June 30, 1973:

N.L. West
L.A. Dodgers
S.F. Giants
Houston Astros
Atlanta Braves
S. D. Padres

The Reds won game two of the twin-bill and continued winning, reeling off 60 wins in the final 86 games of 1973 en route to their third N.L. West championship in four years.

Talk about irony; on June 30, 1973 the New York Mets had a record of 32 – 39 a full eleven games behind the Chicago Cubs themselves. Although the ’73 Mets did not have the second half success that the Reds enjoyed, falling to last place on July 26. Rallying behind the catch phrase “You Gotta Believe” coined by Tug McGraw (Tim’s dad), New York stormed back from their deficit to win the N.L. East with an 82 – 79 record, the lowest winning percentage for a division champion. New York won the pennant by defeating the Reds 3 games to 2 in a hotly contested N.L.C.S., and came very close to winning the World Series, holding a 3 games to 2 lead only to see the A’s dominate games 6 and 7 in Oakland for the championship.

Useless Trivia; the manager of the 1973 N.L. Champions New York Mets was none other than Yankee legend and Hall of Famer Yogi Berra.

Shane Battier of the NBA champs Miami Heat was on a morning radio show earlier this week stating how much science and the “basketball gods” helped his team win the title. Excuse me Shane, but you won the title because you outscored the San Antonio Spurs in four of the seven championship games played. Need I mention that the Indiana Pacers forgot to play defense in the final 2.1 seconds of game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals? Gee, I thought people who attended Duke University were smart.

About baseball gods, basketball gods, football gods, or other gods, consider me an atheist. You want to talk about my Lord Jesus Christ, count me in!

I believe in science too, including the Big Bang Theory, God spoke and “BANG” it happened.

It looked like the Oakland Athletics were swinging out of their shoes Tuesday night off the Reds Bronson Arroyo.

Talk about lack of patience; in the Reds third inning of Wednesday’s game at Oakland, the Athletics hurler A.J. Griffin needed just five pitches to retire the side. Griffin retired Shin Soo Choo on the first pitch, Derrick Robinson and Joey Votto on two pitches each. Hey guys, ever hear of working the count?

With 12 wins in their last 13 games, maybe, just maybe, the Toronto Blue Jays have figured it out.

Did the Yankees GM Brian Cashman drop an f-bomb on A-Rod?

After years of intense study and research, I have finally discovered the secret on how to beat teams from the Southeastern Conference ….out pitch ‘em.

The College World Series title U.C.L.A. won Tuesday night was the schools 109th championship, their first in baseball, the other 108 came in basketball, or so it seems.

In my humble opinion U.C.L.A.’s pitching may have been the best at the CWS since the Texas Longhorns back in 1983 led by Calvin Schiraldi and his lesser known teammate, Roger Clemens.

More Useless Trivia; notable members of the 1983 College World Series All-Tournament team included Arizona State freshman outfielder Barry Bonds, Oklahoma State’s designated hitter Pete Incaviglia, and Michigan’s third baseman Chris Sabo, who went on to win the National League Rookie of the Year award in 1988 along with a world championship for Cincinnati in 1990.

Just wonderin’; why is it called the College World Series, when the teams only come from the United States?

Have a blessed week. GO REDS!

Dan Howard

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