Ask Hal: Why can’t Reds fans just enjoy Joey Votto?

Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto (19) advances to third base on a Kyle Farmer double during the fourth inning of the team's baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday, June 7, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

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Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto (19) advances to third base on a Kyle Farmer double during the fourth inning of the team's baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday, June 7, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

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 you recall the longest rain delay you experienced and what you did to pass the time? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: After Game 5 the 1975 World Series returned to Boston and it rained for three straight days. Somebody asked Pete Rose about the long delay and he said, “It has to stop. The record is 40 days and 40 nights.” I spent three days touring Boston, soaking up rain and history. And there was the last game of the 1999 season in Milwaukee. The Reds had to win to force a wild card playoff with the New York Mets. There were three long rain delays, and they wouldn’t call it because the game was necessary. I set a record for consuming sausage sandwiches in the press box. Late in the game, right field resembled a tributary of Lake Michigan. Dmitri Young charged in on a ball and dove headfirst. He hydro-planed almost to the dirt infield, where it was as soggy as the tundra during rainy season.

Q: Why can’t people just enjoy Joey Votto instead of all the negativity? — JOE, Mason.

A: Votto is a lightning rod. Fans love him or dislike him. And it is always the negative ones who speak loudest. Most of them resent the $25 million he makes a year, believing that contract has prevented the Reds from winning. It is true the Reds have not made it to the World Series during Votto’s stay, but it isn’t his fault. A $25 million contract is not that excessive these days and the team could have surrounded him with better players. Some don’t like him because on TV it is all Votto all the time. If he clips his fingernails, he did it better than it has ever been done. That does turn people off, too. Just plug your ears and watch. When Votto is at his best, like now, he is fun to watch.

Q: So the Reds may be lured into trading Tyler Mahle so how about trading Mahle, Mike Moustakas and Nick Senzel to San Diego for Manny Machado because the Reds need a third baseman? — JERRY, Lebanaon.

A: I’ll call two strikes on you for this one. ONE: Why in the name of Mission Bay would the Padres want to trade Machado, one of their most productive players? And the Padres already have one of baseball’s best rotations and don’t need Mahle. TWO: Machado makes $32 million a year through 2029. That’s high cotton for the Reds. If GM Nick Krall calls the Padres to make that offer his ears will ring for two weeks from the phone slamming.

Q: Why aren’t the Great American Ball Park gates opened early enough for Reds fans to watch the home team take batting practice? — GREG, Miamisburg.

A: The way the Reds hit this year in some games it looks as if they don’t take batting practice. But they do. Back in the day, the gates opened early enough for fans to watch batting practice. I’m told by insiders that the Reds keep the gates closed so they don’t have to have ushers and security personnel report earlier and pay them more. It seems permitting fans to watch batting practice and have a chance to get batting practice baseballs would be a good-will gesture. I’ll check Phil Castellini on it.

Q: Tommy Pham gives loose cannons a bad name so can the Reds dump him because they have enough problems? — BOB, Aurora.

A: Pham, indeed is volatile. This year he challenged San Diego first baseman Luke Voit to a fight at a friend’s gym and he slapped San Francisco’s Joc Pederson in the face in the outfield before a game. Clearly, Pham is high-strung. He is only with the Reds this season to stack up numbers toward free agency, but so far those numbers don’t stack very high. He is probably on the available list for the trade deadline, but with his unchecked volatility he might be difficult to move.

Q: It’s a long wait until next season and as I asked my mom the other day,’ Why are we still watching this Reds train wreck because there is tennis to be played and golf balls to lose? —ELVIS, Englewood.

A: As bad as they are, there are stars on other teams to watch. And there are the young pitchers, Hunter Greene and Graham Ashcraft. Catcher Tyler Stephenson is worth watching, as is Jonathan India, when he can play. There are a lot of suspicious minds when it comes to the Reds, but there are a few ripening apples among this rotten to the core team.

Q: Can the designated hitter be replaced, and the original DH moved to a position? — JEFF, Union.

A: A designated hitter may be pinch-hit for and the pinch-hitter remains in the game as the DH. But if the DH is moved to a defensive position, the team loses the DH and the pitcher must hit. Why didn’t the National League leave it alone and require the pitcher to hit? Baseball was designed for every player to play both offense and defense. Why should there be only one player who plays one way? Now you kids get off my lawn.

Q: The Dayton Dragons are collectively good, so what should we look for in individuals that might gave success at the major league level? LARRY, Washington Twp.

A: Just do what Graham Ashcraft has done, keep on keepin on.’ At this time last season, Ashcraft was at Dayton with a 4-1 record and a 2.33 ERA. Now he is with the Reds and is 3-0 with a 1.14 ERA, This year, Dayton’s Joe Boyle is doing a perfect Ashcraft imitation with a 3-0 record and a 0.84 ERA. The other can’t miss is Elly De La Cruz with 11 homers and 37 RBI and a slash line of .302/,.349/603. What do they have to do? Advance through the system with the same type of numbers, like Ashcraft.


Q: How many baseballs are rubbed up and ready for use each game? — BOB, Owensville.

A: Used to be six dozen (72 balls for the math challenged) were rubbed with a special Delaware River mud to take the gloss off. They’ve since changed to Mississippi River mud and they rub up 180 balls because now balls are thrown out of play if somebody breathes on them. I’ve often wondered why they just can’t manufacture balls without the gloss. And I’m pretty sure, there are more baseballs stocked and ready in reserve because they go through baseballs like a kid goes through M&Ms. If a ball touches Mother Earth, it is discarded. They could certainly cut down expenses by keeping more balls in play.

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