Saturday, May 24, 2014

MLB Week 8 - Dazzles, Dingers & Drops

by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

If my article looks different this week, I can explain. I have often documented in the past how Microsoft Word 2010 reacts to the various spellings of baseball players’ last names, so to push MS Word to the max I decided to write the name of former St. Louis pitcher and current Cleveland Indians hurler Marc Rzepczynski. Not only did MS Word crash, I also got Dell’s infamous “Seven Beeps of Death”, so I’m writing this article on my work computer, not on company time (nod, nod, wink, wink) of course.

Seriously, my laptop problem is very similar to Microsoft’s X-Box “Red Ring of Death”. It has something to do with a solder connection on a processor chip not making a proper connection on the motherboard. One tip that worked briefly was to wrap my laptop in a blanket and let the little thing beep its heart out for a half hour, then let it cool. It worked, for about a month. It’s getting repaired now. Since the warranty has expired, I’d try to fix it myself, but I learned in college that soldering is perfect for people with three hands.

The old adage “what a difference a day makes” certainly came true in the first two games of the Nationals series. A great as the defense was in keeping the ‘Nats from winning the 15 inning marathon on Monday night, the Reds looked like the “Keystone Kops” (Google it) in support of Johnny Cueto on Tuesday night.

Brandon Phillips said that his twelfth inning game saving diving catch was better that Billy Hamilton’s game saving diving catch in the fourteenth inning, because if not for Phillips’ heroics, Hamilton would not have gotten the chance to make his play. True, however, had it not been for Chris Heisey’s running catch on Nationals speedster Denard Span in the ninth inning, neither Phillips nor Hamilton would have got the opportunity to flash the leather in extra innings.

It’s going to be an interesting battle this season between the Dodgers Dee Gordon, and the Reds Billy Hamilton for the top spot in stolen bases. At the time of my writing, Saturday morning, May 24, Gordon leads Hamilton 28 to 18 with just over one-fourth of the season gone. For you old geezers, like me, this is reminiscent of the Reds Joe Morgan and L.A.’s Davey Lopes back in the mid-seventies. I’m looking forward to next week’s three game showdown between Gordon and Hamilton at Chavez Ravine.

Useless Trivia; In 1975 and 1976 L.A. Dodger second baseman Davey Lopes led the National League in stolen bases with 77 and 63 respectively. In second place both seasons was the league’s Most Valuable Player for both seasons, the Reds Joe Morgan. Morgan stole 67 bases in 1975, followed with 60 in 1976.

More Useless Trivia; if Billy Hamilton wins this season stolen base crown, he will not be the first person named Billy Hamilton to win the title. The Philadelphia Phillies from the decade of the 1890’s had a speedster named Billy Hamilton who stole 102 bases that season. Hamilton led the N.L. in steals four times, 1890, 1891 (111), 1894 (98), 1895 (97).

Scouting Report on Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo; hit him with a pitch and he’ll swing at it. Three times this season Rizzo swung at pitches that actually hit him. Baseball Rule Book defines a hit batter; Rule 6.08 The batter becomes a runner and is entitled to first base without liability to be put out (provided he advances to and touches first base) when -- (b) He (the batter) is touched by a pitched ball which he is not attempting to hit (as in swing) unless (1) The ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, or (2) The batter makes no attempt to avoid being touched by the ball; If the ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, it shall be called a strike, whether or not the batter tries to avoid the ball. If the ball is outside the strike zone when it touches the batter, it shall be called a ball if he makes no attempt to avoid being touched.

Please note number 2, “Makes no attempt to avoid being touched by the ball”, in Tuesday night’s game at Washington, it sure looked like the Nationals Kevin Frandsen moved into the cutter thrown by Johnny Cueto, instead of trying to avoid it.

Good News; it was great to see Jay Bruce back in the lineup in Friday night’s game with St. Louis.

Bad News; Reds skipper Bryan Price is saying that Joey Votto, who was placed on the Disabled List this past Wednesday with a left quadriceps strain, may not be 100 percent healthy for the remainder of the season.

For what it’s Worth Department; my gut is telling me that the acquisition of former Atlanta Braves pitcher, Jair Jurrjens, is a good move for the Reds, then again, it could be gas.

Speaking of gas, since I recently sold my gas guzzling 2004 Ford Explorer look for gas prices to drop because I’ll no longer need it as much as I did while driving a 12 mile per gallon (downhill in neutral) gas hog. A few weeks ago, while running up my American Express tab at Speedway to “feed the beast”, a friend of mine, in an effort to mock my lack of fuel economy, pulls alongside of me in his Toyota Prius, and laughs hysterically. At least a Ford Explorer is better looking than a Prius! Seriously, we spent an average of three hundred dollars per month in fuel, until the C.F.O. of our family, my wife, realized we could put that money to better use as a car payment for a more economical vehicle. We’re now the proud owners of a 32 mile per gallon Buick.

Have a blessed week. GO REDS!!!

Dan Howard

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