Ask Hal: What happens if Reds don’t make the playoffs?

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: How many MLB commissioners have served the sport during your long career and who was your favorite and least favorite? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: There have been only 10, beginning in 1924 with Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis. Six are in my tenure — Bowie Kuhn, Peter Ueberroth, Bart Giamatti, Fay Vincent, Bud Selig and Rob Manfred. Although he seemed to look the other way during the Steroids Era, Selig was my favorite because he did more for baseball than all the others. My least favorite is a three-way tie — the pompous Kuhn for negating the 1977 trade the Reds made for Vida Blue for Dave Revering and $1.75 million, Giamatti for his merciless banishment of Pete Rose and Manfred for his continued ruination of the grand old game.

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Q: If the Reds don’t make the playoffs, will they unload players to start a rebuild and reduce payroll? — MICHAEL, Peterborough, United Kingdom.

A: Nice to see somebody across the pond keeping a watchful eye on the Reds, 3,920 miles away. Rebuild is a naughty word with Reds fandom because it seems that has been the team’s operative word for two decades. They have the parts and pieces to win, with a tweak here and there and a major bullpen upgrade. No need to yet sweep out the clubhouse.

Q: Would the Reds consider moving Jonathan India to shortstop because he played some there at the University of Florida and it would solve their problem at shortstop? — DOUG, Cape Coral, Fla.

A: What hole? Kyle Farmer has been spectacular defensively at shortstop and has come up with some big hits. And India is playing better at second base than Brandon Phillips, and Phillips was sensational. As they say, don’t mess with success.

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Q: How come major league players don’t seem to call for fly balls and pop ups anymore, in reference to the Tyler Naquin-Jose Barrero collision? — DAVE, Dayton.

A: I’d like to say that sometimes fielders can’t hear due to crowd noise, but the Reds aren’t drawing what anybody could call a crowd. Players do call for the ball. But the blooper that caused the Naquin-Barrero mishap was in no-man’s land and neither fielder was certain he could catch it so neither could call the other off.

Q: Shogo Akiyama, Eugenio Suarez, Aristides Aquino, Sonny Gray and Mike Moustakas, should they stay, or should they go? — ARLEY, Hamilton.

A: You are stealing from The Clash song, ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go,’ but it’s an excellent song. For sure, the Reds should keep Gray, their most consistent pitcher. The rest? If they can get good returns, go for it. Akiyama and Aquino are mostly bench players, and not very good ones. Moustakas and Suarez are enduring their second straight subpar seasons. Four are expendable, Gray isn’t.

Q: Will the Reds be able to re-sign Nick Castellanos? — RUSTY, Dayton.

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A: They don’t have to re-sign him. He is already signed for the next three years. But there is a caveat. Even though he is signed and owed $52 million, he has an opt-out clause in his contract. If he wants, he can declare free agency after this season. Most likely he will do that and the Reds can join the bidding, but it will cost them much more than $52 million.

Q: If the Reds believe in analytics, why does Tyler Mahle ever pitch at home when should only pitch road games? — ED, DAYTON.

A: When they feed Mahle’s numbers into the computer, the computer must spit out, “Does not compute.” The Reds pitcher is one big anomaly. His record on the road is 7-2 with a 1.97 earned run average and five homers allowed. His record at home is 4-3 with a 6.09 ERA with 18 homers allowed. As the players say, “Riddle me that.” But the team has its rotation and won’t deviate. If it’s his turn to pitch he pitches, be it at home or be it away.

Q: Who was the toughest player you ever covered on the Reds? — ALAN, Sugarcreek Twp.

A: Ray Knight was an amateur boxer and I saw him punch out more than one player. Greg Vaughn once picked up a Reds pitcher with one hand by the neck and pushed him against a wall with the pitcher’s feet a foot off the floor. I saw Ron Oester punch out Cesar Cedeno and whip fellow coach Tom Foley. Put all three in a room in a free-for-all and see who emerges and he would be my guy.


Q: What are the best baseball biographies you’ve read and why is No. 1 your No. 1?— JON, Washington MO.

A: The bookshelves in my home office is stuffed with nearly 300 baseball books and I’ve read most. My all-time favorite is Howard Bryant’s ‘The Last Hero,’ a biography on Hank Aaron. The depth and detail is incredible and all 500 pages are engaging. Tough call after that, but I loved Jane Leavy’s ‘Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy,’ Lonnie Wheeler’s ‘Oscar Charleston,’ and Lee Lowenfish’s ‘Branch Rickey: Baseball’s Ferocious Gentleman.’

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