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: How soon before MLB enacts the Joey Votto Rule against tantalizing fans? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.
A: There is no rule that says players have to give fans a baseball during a game. But Votto’s recent way of teasing fans with baseballs and then keeping them isn’t winning him any support. Just the opposite. They boo him. In many ways, Votto is a different breed of ballplayer and does a lot of things his own way. This is one of them, but it goes against MLB’s desire for players to be fan-friendly.
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Q: So many fans want Bryan Price fired, but why would anybody want to mange the current Cincinnati Reds? It is a one-way ticket to unemployment? — CARL, Kettering.
A: There are 30 major-league managing jobs and most come open with bad teams. There also are many former managers who get second, third and fourth chances with other teams and many who grab coaching jobs in the majors. If the Reds job becomes available, they’ll have more applicants than guys who want to judge the Miss America pageant.
Q: Is it true former Reds relief pitcher Rob Murphy was one ornery individual? — LEE, Newville, Pa.
A: As are most left-handed relief pitchers, Murphy was a little off-center. He once wore a pair of women’s black bikini panties under his uniform as a gag, but when he did well that day he wore them the rest of the season. Murphy loved horse racing and once owned a thoroughbred named Rosin Bag. And he could pitch. In 1987, pitching in relief for manager Pete Rose, he appeared in 87 games and won eight.
Q: How would you compare the current young Cleveland Indians starting pitchers to some of the great staffs you’ve seen? — GARY, Dayton.
A: Whoa, now. While I am a devout Indians fan and while I love their current young staff, they haven’t won a thing yet. No way can I compare them to the 1973 New York Mets of Seaver, Koosman, Matlack and Sadecki or the 1990s Atlanta Braves of Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz, Avery and Mercker. Let’s see what they do in the near future first — and I’m pulling for them.
Q: After the All-Star break last year Todd Frazier struggled to hit .200. While he has 23 home runs this year, has he become Adam Dunn? — RON, Vandalia.
A: As of this writing, the Toddfather has his average “up” to .210. Yes, he has 23 home runs but only 64 hits. Sounds a lot like a right-handed Adam Dunn, doesn’t it? Frazier hasn’t been the same since winning the Home Run Derby last year. Coincidence? Just sayin.’
Q: I often see the home-plate umpire kicking away the back chalk line of the batter’s boxes. Why do they do that? — MARY, Kettering.
A: Great question, and I once asked former umpire Randy Marsh about it. He said he never did it, but notices if umpires don’t do it the first hitter in a game usually does it. Rule 6.03 says a hitter must remain in the batter’s box and he is considered in the box if both feet touch any part of the lines. But after the umpire/hitter wipes out the back line how does the umpire know if the back foot is within the box? My guess is the umpire can tell where the back line was by where the lines in front of and behind the batter end.
Q: I see catchers look into the dugout between pitches and wonder what’s up with that. Please don’t tell me that managers/pitching coaches are now calling pitches. — ALAN, Sugarcreek Twp.
A: I can’t assuage you on that one because often they are. More often, though, the catcher is checking to see if the manager wants a pitchout or wants the pitcher to throw over to first base and a lot of times the catcher wants to know if the manager wants a pitch in a certain location. Johnny Bench sees all that and just shakes his head.
Q: Is there any possibility the Reds host the All-Star Game again in 2019 for the 150th anniversary of baseball and the Red Stockings? – TIM, Kettering.
A: Not a chance under any circumstances. The game is rotated among the 30 teams and lately it is always teams with relatively new ballparks. Look for the Reds to get it again in about 2045. Washington and Miami, with relatively new parks, are at the front of the line and some believe the 2019 game could be held in a refurbished Wrigley Field.
Q: Do I remember what I think I remember, that if you were right-handed you never bought a first baseman’s mitt because first base was for left-handers? — DICK, Dayton.
A: Being an old left-handed first baseman I wish that were true. But it isn’t. Three great first basemen, even before my time, Hank Greenberg, Johnny Mize and Jimmie Foxx, all threw right-handed. But there is prejudice against left-handers with catchers and I’ve never understood why. There are as many left-handed hitters as there are right-handed so it shouldn’t matter which hand a catcher throws with.