Ask Hal: Are there any untouchables on Reds’ roster?

Cincinnati Reds' Jonathan India fixes his hair as he runs the bases after hitting a two-run home run during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Cincinnati, Monday, Sept. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

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Cincinnati Reds' Jonathan India fixes his hair as he runs the bases after hitting a two-run home run during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Cincinnati, Monday, Sept. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

Q: Are you still opposed to using robot umpires after Laz Diaz missed 21 balls and strikes call in a playoff game? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: As opposed as I can possibly be. I have read horror stories about the problems with machine umpires in the minors. I am deeply opposed to taking the human element out of the game. The replay/review bugs me to the nth degree. Why have umpires? Play the game with an honor code. Let the players make the calls like we did in pick-up games in our youth. As I recall, we seldom had arguments.

Q: Are there any untouchable players on the current Reds roster? — MARK, Barboursville, Ky.

A: I would say no to any offers for Jonathan India. Other than that, there should be no untouchables, if the price is right. I’ll go back to when Ralph Kiner had a sensational year for the last-place Pittsburgh Pirates. He asked for a raise and was offered a pay cut by GM Branch Rickey. His reason? “We finished last with you, we can finish last without you.” The Reds can finish third again without most of the guys on the current roster.

Q: What is your view on how the Houston Astros should be received? DENNIS, Huber Heights.

A: My perception is that the Astros are a very good team with a Hall of Fame manager in Dusty Baker. Too many people (me included) don’t like the Astros because they cheated to help them win the 2017 World Series. That was 2017. This is 2021. Only four players remain from the ‘17 team and the manager and general manager were fired. Time to move on.

Q: Which World Series surprised you the most? — ALAN, Sugarcreek Twp.

A: Not to be provincial here, but it must be the 1990 World Series. It surprised me that the Reds beat the heavily favored Oakland A’s and it shocked me that the Reds won in four straight. And full disclosure here. I picked the A’s to win it in five games. That’s the October day that I tossed my crystal ball into the Great Miami River.

Q: Who ultimately made the decision on renaming the Indians the Guardians and didn’t they miss out by not naming them the Rocks or the Rock Stars? — LEE, West Carrollton.

A: After saying he would not drop the Indians name and saying he had commissioner Rob Manfred’s blessing to keep it, owner Paul Dolan did a 180 within a year and picked the name himself. The Rocks and Rock Stars are both too close to the Rockies. I had hoped they would return to Spiders because next year’s team might match the Cleveland Spiders record of losing 134 games in 1899. They lost 40 of their last 41 games and a Cleveland baseball writer wrote, “It’s a great mystery how they won that one game.”

Q: How are umpires picked for the playoffs and World Series and is it a blind draw? — JOE, Englewood.

A: I caught the ‘blind’ draw reference to an umpire’s eyesight. No, it is not a draw and it is not a rotation to get every umpire eventually into the postseason. It is a combination of merit and seniority. Umpires are graded for every game they umpire and that counts. At least, that’s what they tell us. If so, why was Angel Hernandez working the playoffs? Must be seniority.

Q: Of all the Reds teams that didn’t make the playoffs, which team was the best not to make it? — SHAUN, Huber Heights.

A: I could say the ‘74 Big Red Machine or the ‘77 team, but I’m not. I’m saying the 1981 team. It had the best overall record in baseball but didn’t make it. How? It was a strike year and a shortened season. They divided the season into two halves and those two winners met in the playoffs. The Reds had the best overall record but finished second both halves and became the have-nots.

Q: With the impending strike/lockout most likely coming, how does it affect the Reds’ decision-making during the offseason? — SCOTT, Syracuse.

A: It doesn’t just affect the Reds, it affects every team. Nobody knows what new rules will be in affect and what teams can do and can’t do as far as arbitration, trades and free agent signings. It will leave a lot of teams and players in limbo until a new contract is signed. One thing for sure, don’t hold your breath for a salary cap. The players will never let that happen.

Q: Did you ever believe any Reds player should have won a major award and it didn’t happen? — GREG, Beavercreek,

A: Oh, yes. In 1988 I voted for Cincinnati’s Danny Jackson for National League Cy Young and LA’s Orel Hershiser won it. Both were 23-8 and they tied for the most complete games with 15 each. Jackson’s earned run average was 2.73 and Hershiser’s was 2.26. Jackson pitched six shutouts and Hershiser eight. What won it for Hershiser was that he set a major league record with 58 consecutive scoreless innings. If nothing else, they should have shared the award.


Q: If Dusty Baker wins the World Series with Houston, how bad does that make Reds’ ownership and front office look for firing him? — GABE, Ashland, Ky,

A: It wasn’t just the Reds. The Cubs, Giants and Nationals also fired him, even though he took them all to the playoffs. As for the Reds, blame a few select people in the front office who wanted him gone and they got what they’ve deserved ever since. And Dusty doesn’t have to win the World Series to make all those teams look bad, they already look bad. To me, Baker doesn’t have to win another game and he is Hall of Fame worthy.

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