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 email@example.com.
Q: Is it true you had two sons and neither pursued a career as a baseball writer? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.
A: True. Both were excellent baseball players and one was scouted by the Cincinnati Reds. They both can write, too, but they are intelligent guys and chose other professions. They saw how much time their ol’ man spent on the road, missing their games, missing important events in their lives. That is my one and only regret about being a traveling beat writer for 37 years. And they probably saw my paycheck. Told you there were smart.
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Q: What are your thoughts about potential rule changes like the mound height and distance, time clocks, putting runners on base to start innings in tie games? — LYNN, West Alexandria.
A: They already have tinkered so much with the game that if Babe Ruth came back and saw a game he would ask, “What is that they’re playing down there?” Call me old school — one-room schoolhouse old-school — but I loved the game I played in high school when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president and Ernie Banks (“Let’s play two”) was National League MVP and a gallon of gas was 25 cents. Leave the mound alone, leave clocks hanging on office walls and make a batter earn his way to second base, don’t give it to him. But Billy Hamilton would have loved that rule when he was with the Reds and couldn’t find first base, let alone second.
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Q: A catcher often glances to the dugout before giving the pitcher the sign so are the pitches always relayed by the pitching coach? — KENNETH, Dayton.
A: The catcher mostly asks for a certain pitch and the pitcher can shake him off or throw it. A smart pitcher won’t say no to any pitch a catcher wants because if it’s hit out of the park he can blame the catcher. Sometimes, in crucial situations, a catcher will glance into the dugout as if to say, “Hey, give me some help here. We’ve thrown this guy everything but the clubhouse shower stall and he has hit it all.” Mostly, the catcher makes the call and pitchers says yes or no.
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Q: Now that Hunter Greene is out for the season due to injury, will players be reluctant to want to join the Reds because they seem to be a magnet for injuries? — GREG, Beavercreek.
A: If you check the injury list for all major league teams, you’ll find enough players to populate a small Scottish village. It is the nature of the game. As for players not wanting to join the Reds, they have no choice, just as Hunter Greene had no choice. A player must sign with the team that drafts him or not sign at all. If a player could sign with any team he chooses there would only be about four teams in the majors.
Q: Hunter Greene could have played shortstop but the Reds chose to have him pitch, so why did they do that and risk what happened to him? — THOM, Wilmington, Del.
A: Greene was a superstar at both positions in high school, a Sports Illustrated cover boy because he was so good at both. And the Reds permitted him to play shortstop at Billings in the Pioneer Rookie League his first year when he wasn’t pitching. But the Reds drafted him as a pitcher because, well, the Reds always need pitching and shortstops can be found anywhere, especially in Venezuela (Chico Carrasquel, Luis Aparicio, Omar Vizquel, Dave Concepcion — and the Dayton Dragons have Venezuelan shortstop Miguel Hernandez). How often do you find an 18-year-old pitcher throwing 102 miles an hour? Most of them just drive that fast.
Q: I read where the Reds had an announced attendance of 7,799 last Monday and wonder if that really was the attendance or Pete Rose’s hit record? — MARK, Cocoa Beach, Fla.
A: The people in the park that night actually was closer to Rose’s hit record of 4,256 than the 7,799 “in attendance.” That’s a misnomer. Attendance doesn’t mean attendance. It means tickets sold and the Reds sold a record-low (for Great American Ball Park) 7,799. If they are going to call it attendance they should announce the exact amount attending the game in the ball park. In the Reds’ defense, it was a Monday school night and it was colder than the front yard of an igloo.
Q: It looks as if Matt Kemp and Jesse Winker are in a platoon situation in left field and can you remember a platoon that worked for the Reds over the years? — RON, Vandalia.
A: The way Kemp and Winker have started the season, taking a bat to home plate for no apparent reason, perhaps the Reds should consider a third option. Phillip Ervin, where are you? It wasn’t long ago the Reds had another outfield platoon situation — Scott Schebler and Adam Duvall in left field three years ago. But Schebler got hurt and Duvall snagged the job. Now Schebler is struggling mightily and Duvall is playing for Triple-A Gwinnett County in the Braves system. In baseball, times change quickly.
Q: Milwaukee’s Josh Hader is a good relief pitcher but it looks as if when the Reds face him they swing at several pitches out of the strike zone and why is that? — JOHN, Indianapolis.
A: Any successful pitcher is successful because he can tempt hitters to swing at bad pitches. If he threw nothing but balls in the strike zone he would be battered like a rowboat on Lake Superior. It is not only the Reds who can’t hit Hader, it is the entire world. He is successful because he throws hard, his pitches look like strikes when they leave his hand and his pitches move like a dizzy butterfly.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Q: Why do the Cincinnati Reds always take a day off after the season opener? — TOM, Springfield.
A: It can’t because they are tired, can it? One game? Back in the day, as baseball’s first professional team, the Reds were given the honor of playing the season’s first game. There were no other games that day. Then the Reds had the next day off when all the other team played to catch up on the schedule. Also, it gives the Reds an empty date to play if Opening Day is rained out, or snowed out or frozen out.