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Ask Hal: Chapman move was just common sense

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

Q: Dusty Baker has spent 40-plus years in professional baseball as a player, coach and manager yet he is the owner of just one World Series ring. How does this guy face the media day after day with so little success? — DAVE, MIAMISBURG/CENTERVILLE/BEAVERCREEK

A: One is better than none and more players/coaches/managers leave the game with no World Series rings than with just one. Ask Ernie Banks. Ask Gene Mauch. And if rings determined baseball success then Liberace would have managed the Los Angeles Dodgers all those years instead of Walter Alston and Tommy Lasorda.

Q: During the spring training controversy over Aroldis Chapman you remained steadfast that he would be back in the bullpen and not a starter when everybody else, even manager Dusty Baker, was not sure. You were right, so was it a hunch or did you have inside information nobody else had? — DAVE, DAYTON.

A: I just thought common sense would prevail. It was my one attempt at poetry: “Why mess with success?” The Reds won 97 games and the NL Central with Chapman as the closer and they had all five starters back. So, duh? I might have some different “inside information” for next year. He might be a starter in 2014. But that’s another story for another year.

Q: Would Walt Jocketty have traded Josh Hamilton if he had taken over as GM of the Reds before December 2007, when then-GM Wayne Krivsky traded him? — CHRIS, CLAYTON

A: Can’t speak for Walt and he wouldn’t answer this one if placed on a water board. And speaking of water, that river has already passed. Forget Hamilton. No, don’t forget Hamilton because there is one coming, Billy, who might make you forget Josh — for different reasons.

Q: It seems the Reds are notoriously poor hitters the first week of the season, so shouldn’t they return from spring training a week early to get settled at home and get used to the cold weather? — PAUL, FINDLAY

A: There is this matter of a spring training exhibition game schedule they must fulfill. They can’t just pack up and say, “We’re taking our bats and gloves and going home to get warm.” The thing about it being too cold to hit is that both teams play in the same cold weather. Think about the poor warm-weather Los Angeles Angels. Isn’t there a song, “It’s never cold in southern California?” Well, something like that.

Q: With Ryan Ludwick on the DL, any chance Scott Rolen might come out of retirement to play third base and bat fourth and move Todd Frazier to left field? — BOB, BELMONT

A: You have a better chance of winning the Powerball two weeks in a row. Rolen is comfortably retired and at home with his wife and kids in Jasper, Ind. Since he missed spring training he’d need about six weeks to get ready. And the mere suggestion of putting Frazier in left will put Chris Heisey’s multitudinous fans into apoplexy.

Q: What do you think about Big Donald Lutz taking over left field and maybe Ryan Ludwick would become Wally Pipp II. — G.P., VANDALIA

A: While Lutz, who never played baseball until he was 16, is advancing fast, he isn’t ready and needs to tear up Double-A to get promoted to Triple-A. He is, indeed, a scary sight in the batter’s box. As for Wally Pipp, who lost his job when he was injured and Lou Gehrig played the next 2,130 games in a row — that comparison with injured players has been used about 5,369 times. There will never be another Wally Pipp, er, Lou Gehrig.

Q: How or why did the St. Louis Cardinals and Walt Jocketty part company, which enabled the Reds to eventually hire him as general manager? — JOHN, SIDNEY

A: Whatever the reason, send flowers and candy to the front office of the St. Louis Cardinals, Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Mo. And attach a thank-you note. As I understand it, some new front office people in St. Louis and Jocketty weren’t on the same page about how to run the team, despite Jocketty’s wild success. Jocketty would never say it or acknowledge it, but beating the Cardinals puts extra starch in his underwear.

Q: On Opening Day, L.A.’s Albert Pujols dropped Chris Heisey’s pop foul, which I thought should have been an error. If Heisey had then homered I saw he would not have gotten an RBI, but a friend said that the pitcher would not have been charged an earned run. What say you? — BRAD, CINCINNATI

A: A batter ALWAYS gets an RBI on a home run. A batter always gets an RBI on any hit that scores a run or a sacrifice fly or a ground out. A batter doesn’t get an RBI when an error is made on the ball that was hit that scored a run or if he hits into a double play and a run scores. As for an earned run, it depends on a lot of situations — number of outs when the error was made and when the home run came. But since no error was charged, Heisey’s home run definitely was an earned run and always an RBI. Now ask me about the infield fly rule.

Q: Did the players who participated in the World Baseball Classic get paid by their major-league teams or were they paid by the WBC? — BOB, KETTERING

A: Players are paid shares by the WBC, depending upon how far their teams advance in the tournament. Major-league players don’t get paid until the regular season begins (that’s when their paychecks begin arriving via Brinks trucks).

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