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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: You said you would jump into the Ohio River if Billy Hamilton doesn’t win a Gold Glove, so are you getting nervous? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.
A: Didn’t you see me at Bass Pro Shop purchasing a wet suit and a snorkel? Hamilton should have a mantel full of Gold Gloves, but has none. Why not merits an investigation. He covers more ground than the Russian army, leaps tall buildings without a running start and catches more flies than a Venus Fly Trap. But he can’t snag a Gold Glove. Maybe this year?
Q: I am a bit perplexed by the Reds managerial candidates because none excite me much and wonder why the team doesn’t seek somebody that isn’t being recycled? — BOB, Kettering.
A: I, too, am underwhelmed. The first round of interviewing is over and one of these 12 will be the next manager: Jim Riggleman, Billy Hatcher, Pat Kelly, Freddie Benavides, John Farrell, David Bell, Joe Girardi, Brad Ausmus, Rocco Baldelli, Hensley Muelens, Charlie Montoya or Tom Prince. I wonder why they haven’t included former Reds Eduardo Perez, Corky Miller or David Ross, three top-shelf baseball minds? Instead, the Reds will re-interview three or four of the previous dozen. Mark down John Farrell and David Bell as the top contenders, with Joe Girardi as a darkhorse. Girardi has interviewed for other managerial openings and probably will land elsewhere.
Q: Not long ago, the Cincinnati Reds were better than the Milwaukee Brewers both in talent and in the standings and both are relatively small markets, so what happened? — SKIP, Englewood.
A: Unlike the Reds, who did practically nothing the past three years to improve the present, the Brewers went all-in, especially this year. In the offseason they acquired outfielders Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain. And when it was apparent they were contenders, they added Mike Moustakas, Jonathan Schoop, Gio Gonzalez, Curtis Granderson, Joakim Soria and Erik Kratz. The Brewers have made significant trades and invested big money. It is something the Reds not only need to do, they have to do, if they want to keep in step with the Brewers.
Q: With baseball’s winter meetings coming up, what rule changes are coming and what changes would you like to see? — GREG, Beavercreek.
A: No major changes are on the horizon. What I would like to see is for MLB to rescind the rules that a catcher can’t block home plate and a base runner can’t use a take-out slide at second base. I lost a tooth breaking up a double playing for Akron American Legion Post 209. Took a throw in the mouth. It is like the NFL’s new rule that a defensive player can’t breathe on the quarterback. What’s next? No body checks in the NHL, no screens in the NBA and no kicking the ball in the MLS (Major League Soccer)? Ty (Spikes High) Cobb is spinning in his grave.
Q: Boston’s Carlton Fisk hit a widely acclaimed home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series for a team that lost in seven games to the Reds, so wasn’t Tony Perez’s home run off Bill Lee more significant because the Reds won the Series? — RON, Vandalia.
A: All in the eyes of the beholder. Fisk’s home run was a dramatic walk-off home run in the 12th inning and his histrionics at the plate, waving the ball to stay fair, was iconic. Perez’s home run, off one of Lee’s blooper pitches, came in the sixth inning of Game 7, with the Reds down, 3-0. His home run, while important, only cut the lead to 3-2. The interesting part of that home run was that Lee threw Perez that blooper pitch earlier in the game and The Big Dog swung and missed. Perez told the dugout, “If he throws that pitch again I’m going to hit it over the Green Monster.” Lee threw it, Perez hit it over the Green Monster. In his Hall of Fame speech, Perez said, “I’d like to thank Boston catcher Carlton Fisk for calling that blooper pitch again.”
Q: Who was Elmer Concepcion? — JIM, Raleigh, N.C.
A: That would be former Reds shortstop Dave Concepcion and Elmer is a nickname former Phillies shortstop Larry Bowa hung on him. Concepcion and Bowa were bitter rivals in the 1970s. If you check a baseball box score, you will see E—Mike Miscue, indicating that Mike Miscue committed an error. Concepcion had a string of errors and when the Reds were in Philadelphia. Bowa began yelling at Concepcion from the dugout, “Elmer. Hey, Elmer.” Concepcion asked, “Why are you calling me Elmer?” Said Bowa, because every time I look at a Reds box score I see E-Concepcion.”
Q: With all the pitchers coming and going for the last few years why do you think the Reds keep Homer Bailey? Is it the two no-hitters? — STEVE, Middleport.
A: Coming and going? Hey, the Reds only used 33 pitchers this season, including four position players (Cliff Pennington, Phillip Ervin, Alex Blandino, Brandon Dixon). And I’ll give you 23 million reasons why Homer Bailey will be back next season. The Reds will have to pay him $23 million in 2019, even if they would release him, which isn’t going to happen. The two no-hitters show that Bailey does have the right stuff, or did have. Both no-hitters came before three surgeries. And he can’t possibly be any worse next year than his 1-14 record with a 6.09 earned run average. The Reds lost 19 of his 20 starts, or about 20 percent of the team’s 94 losses. The only question for next season is how the Reds will use him.
Q: Ownership told Reds fans 16 years ago that it needed a new ball park to compete so they got Great American Ball Park in 2002, but since then there have been no pennants or World Series appearances, more last-place finishes than playoff appearances despite a big TV contract, so what are we to believe from this organization? — TIM, Xenia.
A: New ball parks don’t compute to good teams. How old is Fenway Park and how old is Wrigley Field? And how good are the Boston Red Sox and how good are the Chicago Cubs? How new is Miami Stadium and how new is Petco Park? How good are the Miami Marlins and how good are the San Diego Padres? Forget Great American Ball Park. How long does a rebuild take? Two years? Five years? Ten Years? Never? Fans have a right for disgruntlement. Four straight last-place finishes is reprehensible for one of baseball’s iconic franchises which, unfortunately, still lives in the past glories of The Big Red Machine, nearly a half century ago.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Q: Who, in your opinion, are the three top Academy Award winning managers to argue with umpires? — KOZ, Springfield.
A: And the winner is … Baltimore’s Earl Weaver, who used to turn his cap around backward so he could push his face closer to the umpire’s face and spew tobacco juice in his ears. Weaver was ejected 94 times in his career. That’s not even close to the all-time leader, Bobby Cox, my No. 2 choice. While managing Toronto and Atlanta, Cox was given the heave-ho 161 times. But Weaver did it with more color and more expletives. My third choice is Lou Piniella, even though he is only No. 11 on the ejected and dejected list with 63. I put him at No. 3 because I witnessed many of them. He would kick dirt on home plate, throw his hat on the ground and kick it, pick up first base and throw it into right field. Sweet Lou was not-so-sweet with umpires.