Ask Hal: A MLB rule change I can get behind

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: Can a potential Hall of Famer wine and dine voters to enhance his chances of getting into Cooperstown? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: He can certainly try, but I hope a writer’s vote is non-negotiable. I once had a player, whom I won’t name, become eligible for the Hall call me out of the blue. “Just calling you to see how you’re doing?” he said. He’d never called before and I was perplexed why he called. Then it hit me. He wanted my vote. He didn’t get it and is not in the Hall of Fame. But he is in my Hall of Shame.

Q: Are you looking forward to the pitch clock? — JOHN, Fort Wayne.

A: As an old-school baseball guy, so old I’m one-room schoolhouse for baseball, you’d think I’d be against it. Wrong. I’m all for it. While I don’t care how long a game takes, I do care about all the wasted time between pitches. The pitch clock will speed the pace of the game and force more action. Bring it on and let the play speed up.

Q: The Reds used to field a winter basketball team that played exhibition games for charity, and will we ever see it again? — GREG, Beavercreek.

A: While they traveled under the Cincinnati Reds label in the early 1970s and wore uniforms that said, ‘Cincinnati Reds,’ the troupe was not authorized by the team. And they usually added a couple of real basketball players/ringers to make certain they won. Johnny Bench and Pete Rose played, and Rose played basketball like a linebacker. It was all fun and games until somebody got hurt. Bobby Tolan tore his Achilles tendon and the Reds put a stop to the tour. Potential injuries are why you’ll never see it again.

Q: With Bally Sports Network filing for bankruptcy, what network/TV station will telecast Reds games if Bally goes belly up? — JACKIE, Kettering.

A: What’s $8 billion in debt among friends? Bally is owned by the Diamond Sports Group, which has TV rights to 42 sports teams, including 14 MLB teams. DSG has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy but says it can continue to televise games. If they fail, commissioner Rob Manfred promises that MLB owns digital rights to those 14 baseball teams and MLB would take over. Remember it. Rob Manfred promised. And MLB would like nothing better than to control the TV rights of all the teams, the way the NFL does.

Q: Do you see any scenario that another ownership group would buy the Reds? — LEE, West Carrollton.

A: Before there can be a buyer, there must be a seller. There is no indication that CEO Bob Castellini’s ownership group wants to sell. I’m sure there would be groups lined up to buy the Reds, if they were for sale. So far, though, there is no ‘For Sale’ sign on the Great American Ball Park lawn.

Q: Any idea when the Reds will do a uniform refresher because they are way overdue for a change? — SCOTT, Columbus.

A: Some teams change uniform styles like you and I change underwear. Not the Reds. The traditional wish-bone ‘C’ is too iconic. But they have made one change the last couple of years. Their red jersey tops have ‘Reds’ emblazoned across the chest in script instead of the ‘C’ on one side of the shirt. I am not a fan. At some point this season, the Reds will unfurl their City Connect uniforms where teams wear colors not associated with the franchise. The Boston Red Sox wear blue and yellow. Yech.

Q: Even though starting pitchers only go 100 pitches or five or six innings, it seems there are more injuries than 20 or 30 years ago, so are there any studies that show this way is better on a pitcher’s arm? — TOM, Beavercreek.

A: If there is, I haven’t read it. And I don’t believe such study exists. It perplexes me that arm injuries seem rampant despite modern medicine, better techniques by physical trainers, better diets, better everything. But if a pitcher doesn’t have Tommy John surgery, he isn’t trying.

Q: I counted 11 coaches plus manager David Bell and remember when manager Sparky Anderson had four coaches, so why so many? — TOM, Cincinnati.

A: Somebody must interpret and implement the analytics that are as thick as the Los Angeles/Hollywood celebrity handbook. Your count is accurate — Bell and his 11 disciples. Three are returnees (Derek Johnson, Freddie Benavides, J.R. House) and eight are new. Why so many? Beats me. They never used to have assistants and now you have an assistant pitching coach, an assistant batting coach, an assistant everything. What’s the old saying about too many cooks?

Q: What sporting event have you never covered that you would like to cover? — TIM, Xenia.

A: I haven’t missed many. Events I’ve covered: World Series, All-Star game, Super Bowl, Rose Bowl, Final Four, Masters, U.S. Open, PGA, Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500, Muhammad Ali title fight, Reds, Miami of Ohio, University of Dayton, Cincinnati Royals, Ohio State, Cleveland Browns, Belmont High’s state basketball championship season. My bucket to-do list is very short, the Kentucky Derby and the Olympics.

Q: Do you ever feel like giving up, just throwing up your hands and saying I can’t cover a team where management doesn’t care? — BILL, Kettering.

A: Never. Writing and baseball are part of my DNA. It’s baseball and Reds management does want to win, somehow, some way. So far it hasn’t figured out how to do it. I’m 82 years old and I tell people I’ll be finished when my head hits my laptop keyboard.

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