Ask Hal: Keeping Rose quiet was cruel

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: Did the Reds convert Billy Hamilton from shortstop to center field to ease the pain of the horrific trade of another center fielder named Hamilton? — DAVE, MIAMISBURG/CENTERVILLE/BEAVERCREEK

A: Are you referring to that guy in Los Angeles who is hitting .238 with a .299 on-base average with 62 RBIs and 136 strikeouts in 130 games? That Hamilton? Josh Hamilton, the guy making $17 million this year who will make $32 million the last two years of his contract? But he does look good in those hair product commercials.

Q: How was Pete Rose allowed to participate in the Great Eight celebration (this weekend) if he is banned from baseball? — MIKE, KETTERING

A: The Reds received dispensation from Commissioner Bud Selig for Rose to participate. Would it have been a complete celebration without one of the top players? Would they have formed a missing-man formation on the field. Rose was not allowed to do any media interviews and it surprised me that he didn’t appear with a piece of duct tape across his mouth. Telling Pete he can’t talk is cruel and unusual punishment.

Q: Can the Reds just go ahead and pencil in Tony Cingrani as a starter next season? — ANDREW, CINCINNATI

A: They won’t say it, but believe it. How can they not? What a competitor. What a pitcher. And he’s left-handed — a rare commodity for the Reds in recent years. Maybe it might stop them from doing the unthinkable and continuing their insane idea of converting Aroldis Chapman into a starter. There is uncertainty about the return of Bronson Arroyo and will Johnny Cueto ever be healthy? Write Cingrani’s name in ink, not in pencil.

Q: The Reds are so inconsistent in their hitting, like two guys going 0 for 7 in one game. Do you think they should bring Casey in to show these guys what they are doing wrong? — SHARON, MIDDLETOWN

A: Casey? Hey, Mighty Casey struck out in the big game. Oh, you mean Sean Casey. I know he can’t understand the present-day acceptance of the big swing and the strikeouts. I’d be amenable to that only if they told Sean he couldn’t teach them to go through 13 different gyrations at the plate between pitches.

Q: Colorado’s Jim Tracy was voted manager of the year and then a couple of years later is out of baseball. Is too much credit given to managers in successful years and too much criticism in a bad year? — MIKEY, GREENVILLE

A: No doubt about that. A manager is the captain of the ship and it goes down if the sailors under him don’t do their jobs. If all goes well, things are ship-shape. If they don’t the skipper goes down with the ship. I always liked what manager Davey Johnson said: “You are never as good as you think you are when everything goes right and you are never as bad as you think you are when everything goes bad.” Managers are only as good as their players.

Q: The Reds didn’t get much return on the Ken Griffey Jr. contract but it is starting to look very profitable compared to the long-term deal with Joey Votto. Would you agree the early returns are not very good? — MARK, BLOOMINGTON, IND.

A: No, I wouldn’t agree. If the Reds offered to give Votto’s contract to any team that wanted him the line outside Walt Jocketty’s door would stretch to Fountain Square. Is Votto having a stellar year? No. Is he having an awful year? No. Is he slumping now? Yes. Will it be a career slump? Absolutely not. The Angels would take him right now to replace Albert Pujols.

Q: What is it that makes Great American Ball Park a hitter’s paradise, the dimensions, prevailing winds or that the ball travels farther when it is hot and humid? — ALLEN, BEAVERCREEK

A: All of the above. It is a small outfield with short gaps and there seems to be a jet stream between left center and right center and on humid days every fly ball either goes to the warning track or over the wall. If I’m a free-agent pitcher I hide when the Reds come calling and if I’m a free-agent hitter I say, “Where do I sign? We’ll talk money later.”

Q: Do you think a more effective punishment besides suspension would be to wipe out all the records of the PED users and to knock the salaries of those still active back to minimum rookie salary? — ED, DAYTON

A: So you’re saying act as if Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa never existed? Ghosts. Figments of our imagination. They did what they did on the field and they did what they did off the field. They won’t get in the Hall of Fame. Punishment enough. Public humiliation. As for the salary issue, the Players Association would laugh the owners all the way out the door and to the nearest bank to make deposits to pay those millions and millions.

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