UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, recovering from the shock of having the press box at legendary Howell All-Star Field in Dayton named The Hal McCoy Press Box. Anybody who ever played amateur baseball in Dayton probably played some games at Howell Field. As former Reds pitcher Tom “Mr. Perfect” Browning said to me during the dedication, “If you hang around long enough, good things happen to you.”
AFTER WATCHING Aroldis Chapman strike out two Miami Marlins hitters with 103 miles an hour fastballs to end a 1-0 game, it hit me.
It just isn’t fair. It just isn’t right. They should give Chapman a DNA test to see if he is actually a human being and not a robot the Cuban Castro regime put together in a laboratory to disrupt major league baseball.
I see him talking, in Spanish, to his teammates. I see him sitting in his corner of the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse listening to salsa music. I see him smoking cigars and driving his Lamborghini. So, he must be human, right?
OK, how about this? When Chapman pitches they should give hitters four strikes instead of three. No, that wouldn’t work. He would still strike them out. How about this? Chapman should have to pitch from 65 feet, from the back of the mound where he would be pitching uphill. That might work. Might.
OF COURSE, ALL this is said in jest because what Chapman does is all within the rules and the 6-foot-4 long-legged (he looks like a pair of legs with a head on top) left hander is merely using what Mother Nature endowed upon him.
And here is something you probably didn’t know: His full name is Aroldis Chapman de la Cruz.
If I’m a left handed hitter and my manager sends me up to hit against him I look him in the eye and say, “Are you crazy? Are you nuts? I have a family.”
In his 290 innings pitched so far in the majors he has struck out 495 batters, most of them swinging at a sound, not at what they see. So far this year he has fanned 65 in 37 ½ innings.
But is he really untouchable? If so, why is his career won-lost record 18-and-19? That’s a real anomaly.
What that says is that perhaps Chapman wouldn’t be as effective as a starter as he is as a closer. He does give up hits and he does give up walks. And those strikeouts mount up his pitch count and one wonders how many innings he could pitch as a starter.
But we’ll never know that, will we?
Will the Reds trade him before the trade deadline July 31? There are reports out there that the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers have more than passing interest.
JOHNNY CUETO made a solid statement in his last start against the Washington Nationals, a complete-game, two-hit, 11-strikeout shutout performance. His catcher, Brayan Pena, said Cueto was on a mission to prove he belongs on the All-Star team. And, yes, he belongs on the team, but he didn’t make it. So one wonders what kid of statement he might make Sunday when he faces the Miami Marlins in the last game before the All-Star game.
Mike Leake also made a statement in his last start against the Marlins — eight innings, no runs, three hits, 10 strikeouts.
Both Cueto and Leake have scouts from other teams salivating and their reports probably say something like: “Acquire these guys at any cost.”
As one major league scout told me, “I rate players on a 1 to 5 scale and I sent in a report on Cueto with a 6. And I gave Leake a 5 ½. Either one of those two guys could put us into the World Series because we have the offense.”
Guess who that scout works for? Chicago Cubs? Los Angeles Dodgers? New York Yankees? Toronto Blue Jays? Can’t tell you. I’m sworn to preserve anonymity.