Ask Hal: Rose, Sabo and Freel the most intense Reds

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: I read where the Cincinnati Reds might consider moving Johnny Cueto to the bullpen this year if he comes back and would that be considered a ‘lat’ move? — DAVE, MIAMISBURG/CENTERVILLE/BEAVERCREEK.

A: I get it — a lateral move in reference to his lat injury. Moving from the rotation to the bullpen is a lateral move and since you are a football official I would assume you know what a lateral is, but perhaps you don’t. And don’t expect any calls from The Comedy Club.

Q: In light of all this stuff with PED’s isn’t it time to put Pete Rose on the Hall of Fame ballot and have writers give him a thumbs up or thumbs down? — STAN, BALTIMORE, MD.

A: Before Rose can even be considered for the Hall of Fame he must be re-instated to the game. Won’t happen. And even if he is re-instated, it is out of the writers’ hands. A player is only eligible to be on the BBWAA ballot for 15 years after he leaves the game and that time has long passed for Pete. He would have to be elected by the Veterans Committee comprised of current Hall of Famers and Rose is persona non grata with most of that group.

Q: Do you recall any other Reds players with the intensity on the field of Joey Votto? — CRAIG, FORT LORAMIE.

A: While Votto certainly is intense, even his intensity was surpassed by Pete Rose, Chris Sabo and Ryan Freel. While Votto hustles at all times, he is more reserved when it comes to running fearlessly into catchers, walls (including dugout walls). Everybody knows what Rose did to Ray Fosse and Bud Harrelson and that Freel had something like 10 concussions and Sabo would run into dugouts and crash into the stands for pop-ups. Managers call it, “Playing stupd,” but they loved that stupidity.

Q: Ryan Dempster received a five-game suspension for hitting A-Rod with a pitch. Do you think he deserved it? — DAVE, DAYTON.

A: Any pitcher who deliberately hits a batter is automatically fined and suspended and since Dempster threw at A-Rod three times before he hit him with a fourth pitch it certainly was deliberate and the fine/suspension was merited. I also believe Dempster should have received a $100,000 bonus, a Marksmanship Award, a Medal of Honor and a spot in the Hall of Fame that A-Rod vacated for his total lack of respect for himself and baseball.

Q: Do you believe there is anybody on the Reds roster who could hit the Toyota Tundra in Great American Ball Park? — RICK, VANDALIA.

A: That Tundra is 515 feet from home plate. You won’t believe this, but if fans were permitted into the park early enough to watch batting practice they would see Aroldis Chapman hitting monstrous blasts into the seats. Not only that, he is the fastest runner on the team and could probably outrun the Tundra. He once hit a stand-up triple in spring training on a ball hit to left center field.

Q: You have covered some of the most interesting managers ever in Sparky Anderson, Lou Piniella, Jack McKeon and Dusty Baker. Do you consider yourself one of the luckiest baseball writers ever in that regard? — TOM, LAWRENCE, KS.

A: Those managers sure made my job easier and extremely fun, even though I also had to cover Vern Rapp. No matter who I had to cover I consider myself extremely fortunate to cover baseball for 41 years and I often told my wife, Nadine, that some day I’d have to get a real job, but I never did. When I was a kid I told people, ‘When I grow up, I want to be a bus driver (I still love buses) and without baseball that’s probably what I would have done.

Q: Being a Detroit Tigers fan in the American League and a Reds fan in the National League I’d sure like to see an I-75 World Series, how about you? — COLIN, RIVERSIDE.

A: Switch those interstates around and make it an I-71 World Series — the Reds against the Cleveland Indians. The Reds have a chance but because the Indians can’t beat the Tigers you could get your wish before I get mine. I found it hilarious when rock singer Alice Cooper, a huge baseball fan, appeared at Great American Ball Park this year and talk about the big Detroit-Cincinnati rivalry. Huh? The Reds and Tigers played in one World Series — 1940.

Q: Ryan Ludwick typically starts slow so why did the Reds bring him back so quickly from his rehab assignment? — DESMOND, SYRACUSE, NY.

A: Ludwick and the Reds ran out of time. A rehab assignment in the minors can only last 20 days for position players, 30 days for pitchers. Ludwick’s time was up and the Reds had no choice but to activate him. And, as usual, Ludwick is starting slow. Fans who thought he was be Instant Offense were misguided. For the Reds’ sake, Ludwick needs to kick it in gear and he certainly is doing all he can to achieve it.

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