Ask Hal: Full half-inning of Votto on the mic was too much

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

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: The Cincinnati Reds didn’t grant Michael Lorenzen his desire to be a starting pitcher, so what is your prediction on the kind of season he will have as a starter for the Los Angeles Angels? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: I predict much success. Lorenzen is one of the best all-around baseball athletes in the game. He can play anywhere on the field and not embarrass himself or the team. His work ethic and his baseball acumen are top shelf. He won his debut by pitching six innings and giving up one run and two hits while issuing no walks and striking out seven. Pretty awesome, eh? Well, hold your applause for now. It was against the Miami Marlins.

Q: Your thoughts on MLB players being mic-ed while playing defense and will a crucial defensive error bring it to an end? — LARRY, Piqua.

A: You are, of course, referring to The Joey Votto show, live and in person from Atlanta. I cringed the entire half inning, wondering what would happen if he had to chase a ground ball in the hole. Most fans seemed to love it and it was highly entertaining. Personally, if they had to do it, why not do it while he is sitting in the dugout where he wouldn’t be distracted? And while it was entertaining, I thought doing it an entire half inning was too much. What’s next, putting a live microphone on a pitcher while he is on the mound?

Q: Does a flair or bloop single goes into the same as a line drive frozen rope single? — BILL, Villa Hills, Ky.

A: Yes, a single is a single is a single, be it a bloop or a blast. Counts the same in the batting average and looks the same in the scorebook. However, for writing and description purposes, I make little notations that describe the hit, “Off the third baseman’s glove,” or “a solidly hit line drive to right field.” Readers want to know.

Q: Is Homer Bailey the worst pitcher to ever throw two no-hitters? MATT, Conneaut Lake, Pa.

A: Thirty-six pitchers have thrown more than one no-hitter, led by Nolan Ryan’s seven. Sandy Koufax threw four and Bob Feller, Cy Young, Justin Verlander and Larry Corcoran each threw three. That leaves 29 who threw two, the most famous being Johnny Vandermeer’s back-to-back no-nos. Jim Maloney threw two, as did Homer Bailey. Was Bailey the worst? I can’t put any pitcher who threw two no-hitters on any worst list. While Homer is on many people’s dislike list, I liked the guy a lot because he always treated me with respect, was an intelligent conversationalist and it wasn’t his fault his career was uprooted by an assortment of injuries.

Q: Tyler Stephenson has developed very quickly as an MLB catcher, so how much credit should go to former Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart for this quick transition? — JR, Oxford.

A: Indeed, Tucker hastened his departure from Cincinnati with his willingness to help Stephenson. And Stephenson heaps credit on Barnhart for making him a project. Of course, the price differential on their contracts was a factor in Barnhart’s trade to Detroit. But that’s the kind of teammate Barnhart was … whatever is best for the team.

Q: Hunter Greene threw 100 mph or more in his debut 20 times, but how secure is Tommy John surgery in the long run? — DON, Riverside.

A: Pretty safe and secure. Many times, pitchers come back after the surgery throwing harder. Of course, Greene was throwing plus-100 before the surgery and still is. What to avoid is a second TJ procedure. It has happened 43 times to major league pitchers and most of the time those pitchers haven’t made it back or were ineffective. The latest to have a second TJ operation was San Diego pitcher Mike Clevinger. He was on rehab all last season and expected to pitch this year. But he began the season on the injured list with a sore knee. Keep all fingers crossed that Greene never needs TJ again.

Q: Who calls what pitches a Reds pitcher throws, the manager, the catcher or does the pitcher have the final say? — GREG, Miamisburg.

A: Many teams, the Reds included, are using PitchCom this year. The catcher wears an electronic device on his wrist and punches in the pitch he wants and the location he wants. The pitcher, shortstop, second baseman and center fielder all hear it. I just wonder how long it will take for a team like the Houston Astros to jam the signals or figure out how to listen in? The catcher calls for the pitches, although some veteran pitchers call their own. And the pitcher can shake off the catcher, but some rookie pitchers are told not to do that, to throw what’s called. When a home run is hit, everybody says it was the catcher’s fault for calling the wrong pitch and the catcher says it was the pitcher’s fault for throwing the wrong pitch.

Q: Is there any former Reds player with whom you wish you could have an awesome meal what and what would be on the menu? — GREG, Beavercreek.

A: Just last week I had meals with Bronson Arroyo and Jose Rijo. I would have a meal with nearly every one of the Reds I covered since 1973. Doesn’t matter, I just love to eat. My idea day would be breakfast at Mom’s in Franklin, lunch at Mama DiSalvo’s and dinner at the Oakwood Club with three different ex-Reds. The next day would be spent on a treadmill at the gym.

Q: What was your personal best at eating Dodger Dogs and was it a record? — JERRY, Lebanon.

A: Only ravished three of those foot-long beauties each game. Not close to a record. There used to be a portly writer at all Dodgers games, and I swear he had one every inning. Since they were only available from the third inning on, I assume the record is seven. Sadly, I heard the Dodgers changed hot dog providers and the current ones are not as good. Dodger Stadium also dropped another staple, Lasorda Pizza. Why go there anymore … unless you want to see a great team.

About the Author