Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy knows a thing or two about our nation’s pastime. Tap into that knowledge by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: As I peruse article after article about the Cincinnati Reds, how do I know if I’m reading real news or fake news? — Dave, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.
A: If you are reading about the Reds in the Dayton Daily News, it’s real news. How could we possibly make up what is going on with this team? It may not be good baseball, but it is reality baseball and the reality is the starting pitching stinks, the defense stinks and the base running stinks. Fake news would be any report that a pitcher from the Reds is in line for the Cy Young Award.
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Q: Do you think the Reds will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline? — JEREMY, Covington, Ky.
A: Check the standings, my friend. The Reds are last and the term ‘dead last’ fits this team. They aren’t going to abdicate last place. So why would they be buyers? They are going to sell, sell, sell and round up a few more prospects/suspects. The question, though, is if the Reds have much other teams want. Scooter Gennett? Adam Duvall? Matt Harvey? Billy Hamilton? Do they want to break up the best part of the team and trade some bullpen pieces like Wandy Peralta or Jared Hughes or Raisel Iglesias or Michael Lorenzen or David Hernandez?
Q: Have you ever seen a team dump an overachiever who was a Triple Crown winner and has a neat nickname for a few low level pitching prospects? — BOB, Washington Twp.
A: Not sure to whom you are referring. Adrian Gonzalez was recently released by the New York Mets and he has two cool nicknames — A-Gon and Titan. But he never won the Triple Crown and wasn’t traded, he was released. Do you mean Frank Robinson? He won the Triple Crown after he was traded by the Reds to Baltimore for veteran pitchers Milt Pappas and Jack Baldschun (not pitching prospects) and outfielder Dick Simpson. Robinson’s nickname was ‘The Judge,’ which isn’t that cool. If you mean Scooter Gennett (cool nickname) he isn’t going to win the Triple Crown and he hasn’t been traded yet. So, I guess my answer is, no I never have.
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Q: If you could come up with a device or procedure to prevent a baseball injury, what would it be? — BRIAN, Bellbrook.
A: Well, Dr. Frank Jobe came up with the Tommy John surgery that has saved the professional lives of hundreds of pitchers. It should be named after Dr. Jobe and it should gain him Hall of Fame admittance. Instead it is named after the first pitcher, Tommy John, to undergo Dr. Jobe’s procedure. If I could come up with something to quickly fix or eliminate the oblique injury I could retire to Hermitage Beach in Antigua. First of all, though, I’d have to figure out what an oblique is and where it is and what function it serves, other than to put players on the disabled list for a long time.
Q: Didn’t teams start shifting on Johnny Bench at one point in his career or did I imagine it during my teenage years? — GREG, Dayton.
A: The first overshift was back in the late 1940s when Cleveland Indians player/manager Lou Boudreau employed it against Boston’s Ted Williams, The Splendid Splinter. I saw it in person when I was a kid. Some folks think some teams used it against Cincinnati’s Ted Kluszewski, but that was before my time covering the Reds and I never saw Big Klu play. As for Bench, I covered his career from 1973 until he retired and I don’t recall any team overshifting by putting the second baseman on the left side with the third baseman and shortstop. Yes, J.B. was a pull hitter, but he also could hit to all fields. Remember the famous home run Bench hit in the final game of the 1972 NLCS against Pittsburgh? He led the ninth inning with a game-tying home run and it was hit the opposite way, over the right field wall.
Q: What motivates a team like the Reds this year to go out and play hard each day when they are so far down in the standings? — JACKI, Dayton.
A: They are professionals and they hate losing, hate to see ‘Cincinnati’ at the bottom of the standings. As highly paid professionals they owe it to the fans to give their best at all times. While the Reds may not be very good, they do hustle and play hard, never seem to give up. Manager Jim Riggleman harps on it almost daily for his players to give it their best. Most of the time, though, it just isn’t good enough because of bad starting pitching.
Q: What can the Reds do to get more innings out of the starting pitchers because they are chewing up the bullpen? BECKY, Trenton.
A: It is like Groundhog Day and it happens every year. By the All-Star break the Reds relief pitchers have their arms in slings and their pitching arms are six inches longer than their non-pitching arm. It is very simple. It is called command and control. Throw more strikes. Pitch to contact. They can’t get out of the fifth inning because by that time they have thrown so many pitches they have to be replaced. The best pitch in baseball? Strike One. The worst pitch? Ball One. Guess which one the Reds starting pitchers specialize in?
Q: Can you look in Hal’s crystal ball and tell us who will be managing the Reds next year?— GLEN, Elk Rapids, Mich.
A: I sent my crystal ball to be cleaned years ago and the dunderheads cracked it and all the snow fell out. There are no rumors leaking out of the front office (can somebody wake them up) and I don’t think they have a clue themselves who that might be. I’m already on record as a supporter of Jim Riggleman getting it. I probably should not have revealed that because they never listen to me. The players are responding to him and it would be nice if they permitted him to start fresh at spring training. But whoever gets the job needs to demand some decent pitching.
Q: Isn’t there something the Reds can do to eliminate the hooting and shrieking that is constant during almost every broadcast, ruining it for the rest of us? — MARK, Hamilton.
A: I cringe every time it starts and you can thank Pittsburgh Pirates fans for it. They started it. No, there is nothing the Reds can do about it other than put a winning team on the field. What do fans have to cheer about? Joey Votto and Scooter Gennett only bat four or five times a game. There is a lot of down time, so the hideous woooo-woooo-wooo commences and every bird in Hamilton County flees their roosts.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Q: What is your favorite vacation location? ALAN, Sugercreek Twp.
A: You expect me to say Dodger Stadium or Wrigley Field, don’t you? Actually, Nadine and I love Aruba and have vacationed there often. But we hope our upcoming vacation in Italy will be the topper. I could eat pasta every day and now I will get the chance. We have a house-sitter/dog-sitter (for Cooper and Paige), but unless one of you volunteers, there will be no Ask Hal next week. I’ll be watching The Leaning Tower of Pisa and wondering why it doesn’t fall down.