Hall-of-fame baseball writer Hal McCoy knows a thing or two about America’s pastime. If you’d like to tap into that knowledge, send a question to email@example.com.
Q: If the Cincinnati Reds have nothing for Chris Heisey to do, what don’t you hire him as your driver? — Dave, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek
A: Nothing to do? Do you call filling in at all three outfield spots when needed, pinch-hitting and pinch-running nothing to do? And I have a driver, retired Air Force loadmaster Ray Snedegar. We’re working on borrowing an Air Force jet for our trips to and from Cincinnati.
Q: Do you foresee a time when the Reds might return their spring training facilities to Florida? — Chris, Dayton
A: Sure, in the year 2040 when their 30-year lease expires in Goodyear, Ariz. Before then? Probably not, unless Goodyear runs them out of town if they keep drawing 1,720 fans the way they did Monday. Due to the real estate bust, Goodyear hasn’t become the Valhalla the Reds hoped, but they’re stuck there for the long haul.
Q: A friend saw the Reds at spring training last year and traveled to some of the other facilities and we wonder which is your favorite complex? — John, Greenfield
A: Every time they build a new complex, they outdo the last one. So, the newest one, Salt River at Talking Stick, home to both the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies, is state above the art, just fabulous. And it is right down the street from Talking Stick Casino, within walking distance. What more could one ask?
Q: Any chance Dusty Baker and Walt Jocketty will wake up and realize they have one of the best closers in the game in Aroldis Chapman and leave him there and keep Mike Leake as the No. 5 starter? — Jim, Forsyth, Ill.
A: Both are wide awake. You don’t sleep your way to two division titles in three years. Baker loved his bullpen plan of Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton and Chapman. Worked well, didn’t it? But Jocketty wants to try Chapman as a starter and that’s what Dusty will do during spring training to see if it works. But I’m with you on this one.
Q: Can a team in the World Baseball Classic trade a player to another team? — Carl, Arcanum
A: There is no trading in the WBC. Crying, yes. No trading. Players have to be born in the country for which they are playing or have close blood relatives from that country. If a player has dual citizenship in two countries he can play for either. That isn’t true of managers. Barry Larkin is managing Brazil and I’m fairly sure he has no Brazilian bloodlines.
Q: Have the Reds or MLB done anything to reduce the number of home runs hit at Great American Ball Park? — Jason, Morrow
A: What, you don’t like to see guys jogging around the bases and pitchers cursing aloud? Not much they can do about it. There isn’t enough room behind the stadium to push back the fences and doing so would be both extremely costly and would reduce the number of seats. They can’t use humidors for the baseballs as they do in Colorado because Cincinnati isn’t a mile high. The best they can do right now is issue football helmets to fans seated in left field and right field to prevent maiming.
Q: While I love it that former Reds greats are in camp, isn’t it disrupting to the coaching staff to have the players hear so many different voices? — Mark, Dayton
A: It is great to see all the old heroes and that’s why they are here. They do very little instructing. Mostly they talk to the players about what’s it is like to win and what it takes to win — the ol’ power of positive thinking approach. And Dusty Baker loves having them around, too, even though seeing so many Big Red Machine guys brings back ugly memories to Baker, the old Dodger.
Q: With all the rapists and murderers in professional sports, how can they keep Pete Rose out of the Hall of Fame? — Teresa, Miamisburg
A: I don’t know of a single player in Major League Baseball who has been convicted of rape or murder. A few speeding tickets here and there? Yes. While it sounds harsh, Rose did break a rule, betting on baseball, that carries the same sentence as some murders. Life. A lifetime ban. And that is what he is serving.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Q: Will all this Cincinnati Reds talent be able to overcome the worst field manager in baseball? — Jerry, Cincinnati
A: Is Vern Rapp back? I thought Dusty Baker managed this team — the guy who has taken it to two division titles in three years after the Reds spent a decade trying to finish over .500 and not succeeding. Baker is such a bad manager that he led the Reds to a 32-16 record while his best player, Joey Votto, was out of the lineup. Yeah, right, he stinks to high heaven.