Ask Hal: Turn back the clock and play real baseball

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

Q: Did the Houston Astros get away with their cheating scandal, aided by no fans during the 2020 season and an inept MLB commissioner? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: Ask A.J. Finch (fired) and Alex Cora (suspended) if they got away with it, although both are now back in the game after a year away. Commissioner Rob Manfred certainly dropped the ball on player punishments, but a limited amount of fans this year will be presented with a chance to voice their opinions when the Astros hit town, minus their trash cans.

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Q: What do you think MLB should do to improve the game on the field? — BILL, Houston.

A: That’s an old song, an old refrain for me. Return it to the game of yesteryear: No DH, no interleague, no exaggerated shifts, no seven-inning doubleheaders, no putting runners on second to start extra innings, no three-batter limits for relief pitchers. Move the clock back to 1970 and let’s play real baseball again.

Q: What can baseball do to promote a great presence of women in management positions? — BRIAN, Bellbrook.

A: How about starting another League of Their Own? Kim Ng is the general manager of the Miami Marlins and that’s a great start. More women need to be hired at the lower levels and let them move up, same way as men do it. More women need to show interest and MLB should be on the lookout for qualified females. Perhaps MLB should start a training school for women.

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Q: Why do the Reds always talk about their needs at the end of a season and never address them in the offseason? — JIM, Ketttering.

A: As they say, talk is cheap. They addressed a lot of needs after the 2019 season when they acquired Mike Moustakas, Nick Castellanos, Shogo Akiyama and others, None produced. So it was back to mostly doing nothing after 2020, hoping those 2019 acquisitions play to the backs of their baseball cards. When a team chases free agents, which the Reds did, those free agents have to want to come and the ones the Reds pursued didn’t. The Reds were always outbid. So once again we have the ol’ status quo.

Q: Can you explain why Dave Parker is not in the Hall of Fame? — TOM, Indiana, Pa.

A: That’s easy. He wasn’t voted in. Why? He definitely has the numbers. The only reason I can come up with is that his name was prominent in the cocaine scandal involving the Pittsburgh Pirates when he played there. It might also be why Al Oliver, another worthy player left out, is not in. And that’s truly unfortunate because Oliver’s name was never linked to the scandal and there is not a more upstanding and outstanding human being than Al Oliver.

Q: Which National League team will be much better than expected and sneak into the playoffs? — JOEL, Kettering.

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A: Unfortunately for Reds fans, it wont happen in Cincnnati. My pick to click is the New York Mets. They’ve added shortstop Francisco Lindor and catcher James McCann. Plus they acquired starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco to an already strong rotation of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman. And they added relief pitcher Trevor May. They are strong on paper, but paper is easily shredded.

Q: Is the power-up approach coming from individual players or from the Reds’ coaching staff? — JON, Washington, Mo.

A: Joey Votto, Shogo Akiyama and Eugenio Suarez all have said via media interviews that they are in search of more home runs. That is their choice. I’ve also heard manager David Bell say the team needs to put the ball in play more, hit for better averages and be productive in more ways than the long ball. For the sake of winning, one hopes Bell prevails because last season’s .212 team batting average is not going to get the job done, or even started.

Q: As a young sports writer, who did you like to read? — CHUCK, Troy.

A: Was I ever young? I never missed a JIm Murray column in the Los Angeles Times. My Mount Rushmore of sports journalists was Murray, Red Smith (New York Herald-Tribune), Dan Jenkins (Sports Illustrated, sports novels), Bob Verdi (Chicago Tribune). And I nearly every day I read the columns of my boss, Si Burick, because I had to proofread it before it went to print and I dare not overlook even a missing comma or I was made to stand in a corner. Well, not really. Si was a stickler, but a great man and fabulous mentor.


Q: It is great that Barry Larkin is now a Reds broadcaster and would he make a good field manager or a better front office staffer? — JAY, Englewood.

A: Barry is a hands-on guy and would not be happy sitting at a desk. He did work a few years in Washington as GM Jim Bowden’s special advisor, but left to work at ESPN. Even though he is not officially a coach, he works with Reds players on the field during spring training. And everybody who works with him is impressed. He is bright, low-key and full of baseball knowledge. Given a good roster, Larkin would be an outstanding field manager.

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