Sports Extra with Dave Ross: ‘Bullpen day’ takes on expanded meaning


When the Cincinnati Reds top farm club hosted Charlotte on June 12, the visitors decided to make it a “bullpen day” to reposition their starting rotation as the series ended. The relief committee held Louisville to just one run in claiming a 6-1 verdict.

In such a scenario you might expect about five pitchers to be utilized. However, nine toed the rubber en route to victory on that day. Ironically, a regular starter hurled the final inning and he had previously pitched for both Louisville and Cincinnati, Brandon Finnegan.

Memorial Day

I talked to several folks who were surprised when the Cincinnati Reds and some other major league teams didn’t play on Memorial Day. However, that holiday has not been a big draw in Cincy and many other markets.

A great example is Memorial Day 1975 when the mighty Reds entertained Montreal in a doubleheader with two games for the price of one. The Reds swept the pair on a gorgeous day in front of only 25,034 fans. Not even the vaunted Big Red Machine could fill Riverfront Stadium more than halfway on the day that signals the start of summer.

In light of the current length of MLB games, I note that each contest was played in about two and a half hours.

Sounds Presidential

In 1974 the Cincinnati Reds “High ‘A’” farm club was the Tampa Tarpons, a role now occupied by the Dayton Dragons, and three levels from the majors. I recognized pitcher Manny Sarmiento and catcher Don Werner as future Reds on that roster. Werner caught Tom Seaver’s only career no-hitter in 1978.

There was a utility infielder whom I’ll mention due to his celebrity name of Ronald Reagan. Then there was outfielder Randy Poffo who contributed 66 RBI. He eventually became pro wrestling icon Randy “Macho Man” Savage.

The Tarpons finished 1974 as North Division champions of the Florida State League and were managed by future Reds skipper Russ Nixon. Macho Man’s future manager was the lovely Miss Elizabeth.

Sidney Stadium

The 2022 football season will be the 19th for Sidney Memorial Stadium and ninth on synthetic turf. That “carpet” has performed well and continues to exceed safety mandates, as verified by recent testing. When the time finally comes to replace the turf (not the under structure which is retained), the money will already be in place from annual funding of a special designated account that accrues what would have been spent to maintain natural grass. That financing assumed a turf life of ten years. The current carpet should exceed that.

I’m amazed at how often I’m asked about the longevity and cost of synthetic turf. It’s not only a great game field but also a durable all weather practice surface for football and other sports, a “real athletic department asset” according to Sidney AD Mitch Hoying. Cost of a totally new installation now appears to be somewhere in the vicinity of a million dollars, plus or minus depending on variables.

Mile high Stammen

Versailles and UD grad Craig Stammen spent last weekend in Denver with the San Diego Padres with a unique distinction. According to the San Diego Union Tribune, the veteran reliever entered the three game set with the lowest earned run average of any pitcher with at least 20 appearances in hitter friendly Coors Field. In his 22 career treks to the mound in that park, the ground ball specialist had worked 34+ innings with a 1.31 ERA.

After not pitching on Friday or Saturday, he appeared on Sunday, retired two hitters without an earned run, and slightly improved his Coors ERA. Despite having decent season stats, Stammen is rarely called on by the new San Diego regime to work in meaningful situations. The 38 year old is in the final year of his contract and could be a trade candidate with the August 2 deadline looming.

Sports Extra

With Dave Ross

Sports Extra appears each Friday. Dave joined the local sports media in 1975, working in radio, TV, newspaper, public address announcing, and other related activities.

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