A: Neither one. It is a case of the rich getting richer. The players usually sign contracts with bat companies. The manufacturers pay the players to use their bats and they are furnished free. It is the same with catcher’s gear. And it is the same with gloves and mitts. The team furnishes everything else, right down to socks and jock straps. The players, though, do have to pay for their own Lamborghinis.
Q: What kind of statistics do they use to award the Silver Slugger Award and is it a popularity contest? RON, St. Marys, Oh.
A: All offensive categories are considered — batting average, on-base percentage, slugging average, home runs, RBI, stolen bases. The award is voted on by managers and coaches and they can’t vote for their own players, but human bias still creeps in. I’ve never understood why the defensive award is associated with gold (Gold Glove) and the offense award is only associated with silver (Silver Slugger). I guess they like alliteration.
Q: With a runner on first, the batter hits a ground ball down the line and the third baseman fields it cleanly and throws to second. But the runner is called safe at second so is that ruled a fielder’s choice or a hit for the batter? — MIKE, Fairborn.
A: Plays like that are up to the official scorer’s decision and you get a lot of ‘homer’ calls. If it looks to the official scorer that the third baseman would not have thrown the batter out at first, it’s a hit. But your third baseman, probably Nolan Arenado, fielded the ball quickly and cleanly and could have thrown the runner out at first. So, it is a fielder’s choice and one batter angry at the official scorer.
Q: Have teams been using position players to mop up late inning blowouts more often and wouldn’t it be better to institute a mercy rule then to make us watch a second baseman give up three or four runs? — ALAN, Dayton.
A: It does seem to be proliferating and I despise it. It should be embarrassing to the team and makes a mockery of the game. With 13 pitchers on staffs, teams should be required to always always use legitimate pitchers. Shohei Ohtani is a legitimate pitcher/outfielder. No problem there. But watching an infielder who has never pitched over 55 miles per hour lobs is glorified batting practice. But please … no mercy rule. The game was invented to play nine innings and fans pay to see nine innings. Play it out. Who knows what might happen? In a 1990 game, the Phillies trailed the Dodgers, 11-1, in the fifth inning and came back to win, 12-11. No position players pitched.
Q: What are the ramifications of a pitcher getting caught with a foreign substance on his person during a game? ¸— DORIS, Centerville.
A: At the least, if he is dumb enough to get caught, he should be forced to sit in a corner of the dugout wearing a dunce cap. The penalty, though, is much steeper. If caught with so much as a dab of Brylcreme or any foreign substance, he is immediately ejected and suspended for 10 days. And if it is discovered that the catcher is applying the gook, he gets the same punishment.
Q: Is Cincinnati the only major league city where you can still physically buy a ticket to a baseball game because I stood outside Tropicana Field buying a ticket on the MLB app because major-league baseball thinks this is the way to go. — LARRY, Indian Harbor Beach, Fla.
A: The nation is trending toward paperless transactions and baseball is no different. Nor is Cincinnati. You can’t use cash in Great American Ball Park, credit cards only, even for concessions. Tickets are purchased by app or credit card. But if you are cell-phone challenged and insist, you can go to a ticket window and plead, if you get down on your knees, to pay cash.
Q How did you endure those hot days covering the Reds, especially those triple-digit games in the old Busch Stadium? — CHRIS, Fairborn.
A: It was worse in Houston before the air-conditioned Astrodome. The Astros, then the Colt .45s, played outdoors in Colt Stadium and it was unbearable. My colleague, Earl Lawson of the Cincinnati Post, once stripped down to his underwear to beat the heat. And the mosquitos were as big as helicopters. The new Busch Stadium has air-conditioning and windows in the press box. The old Busch had no windows and it got so muggy the paper in my typewriter would get soggy. Sad to say, they had an air-conditioned dining room behind the press box with a TV and we watched many innings while munching hot dogs in the dining room.