Ask Hal: Is Reds manager David Bell on the hot seat?

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: Since many of us are flustered with new phony rules, all the home runs, all the strikeouts, the defensive shifts, the analytics, can you think of any positive regarding today’s baseball? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: Yes. Thank goodness they are playing only 60 games during this jerry-rigged season. Enduring 162 games would have my head swimming with the seven-inning doubleheader games and putting a runner on second base to start extra-inning games, a base the guy didn’t earn. And you can keep the fake crowd noise and the cardboard cutouts. How many more gimmicks can baseball endure?

Q: With the big money spent, the high expectations and the short season, how long of a leash does manager David Bell have? — BOB, Belmont.

A: He has neither a long leash nor a short leash. He has no leash at all. The front office believes he and the team can still get the job done. With about 20 games left, changing managers now is not going to change things one way or the other. It is do or die the rest of the way with Bell. And it certainly would help the guy if those ‘big money’ guys start to earn those millions.

Q: Why doesn’t MLB use the grammatically correct RsBI for runs batted in so English teachers can smile again? — WALT, Tremont City.

A: That’s a good one with which writers always wrestle. Some say RBI and some say RBIs for runs batted in. RBIs is not corrected beause it is not run batted ins and RBI indicates run batted in, one run. RsBI makes sense, but baseball has a lengthy list of more problems than abbreviations. But my old English teacher, Miss Hairston, is smiling over this one.

Q: Why was pitching coach Ted Power deposited on the sidelines because it appears that the fire has left the pitching staff, other than the ones acquired from other organizations? — WILLIAM, Centerville.

A: When a new manager is hired, especially one from outside the organization, he brings in an entire new staff. That’s what happened when David Bell was hired and Derek Johnson was brought on as pitching coach. Power was one of the most respected pitching coaches in the business and pitchers loved him. I always admired him greatly. Indeed, he was a victim of the team’s poor performances over the years. Somebody has to pay and Power was part of the price.

Q: Would you agree that Joey Votto is done and just collecting millions until he is 41? — BOB, Washington Twp.

A: A week ago I thought about it. Briefly. And I wrote a blog indicating that age might be catching up to him. Then he was benched for three days and that got his attention. He is one proud guy and definitely a hard worker. The benching appears to have put him on alert. Last week he was the younger version of Joey Votto. Will he maintain it? We shall see but for now he isn’t done yet.

Q: We celebrate Jackie Robinson Day every year with every MLB player wearing his 42, so should any other player be honored this way? — GREG, Beavercreek.

A: There is no doubt it is apropos to honor Jackie Robinson because his entrance into baseball’s white world may be the most important and historic event in MLB history. But let’s not overdo it. I can think of only one other and that’s the 21 worn by Roberto Clemente. Not only was he one of baseball’s best ever players, he died in a plane crash delivering necessities to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. He was a true talent and a true humanitarian. And Sean Casey would be proud of it, too.

Q: It seems the Reds hit into a lot of double plays, so do they lead the world in that category? — KEITH, Brookville.

A: They were tied for second in the majors entering Friday’s games with 31. The Mets lead MLB with 35, followed by the Reds, Cubs, White Sox, Giants and Nationals with 31.. Amazingly, the last-place Pirates have only hit into 11, but you need baserunners to hit into double plays. With the Reds, though, it seems as if every time they need a big hit to tie a game or take a lead somebody hits into a double play — 6-4-3, 5-4-3, 4-6-3 or 3-6-3. . .whatever it takes.

Q: What was the Reds pitching rotation in 1982 when the team lost 101 games? — MARYANNE, West Chester Twp.

A: Actually, the rotation wasn’t awful. Those guys can’t be blamed for the most losses in team history. Of the five, four had earned run averages under 4.00. They were the victims of meager offensive support. Mario Soto was 14-13 with a 2.79 ERA. Bruce Berenyi had a 3.36 ERA, but he was 9-18. Bob Shirley’s ERA was 3.60, but he was 8-13. Frank Pastore also was 8-13 with a 3.97 ERA. The only starter who struggled was the late Hall of Famer Tom Seaver, on the down slope of his career. He was 5-13 with a 5.50 ERA. It was a season of low-scoring losses. A lot of them.


Q: What happened to major league hitters changing their approach with two strikes? — MARK, Cincinnati.

A: Cutting down your swing, choking up a bit on the bat and punching the ball the other way is Old School Baseball. We are watching New School Analytics, which means swing from the heels, fall down on your swing and see how far you can hit it (or swing and miss), even with two strikes. There is at least one Old School practitioner, love him or hate him. St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina does it the old way. How many times has he beaten the Reds by punching a two-strike single to right field? Too many to count.

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