Ask Hal: Here’s hoping Greene can outdo Bailey

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: What’s your take on the umpire wearing a microphone to explain the replay reviews? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: About time. One never knew if they were discussing where to eat after the game or what time their flight was. Now we’ll know it is Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse and 8:30 the next morning. It’s a great thing to know what their decision is on a play and why the decision was made instead of just watching them take off the headphones and point to first base.

Q: There is much excitement over the scheduled debut of Hunter Greene today and do you recall any Reds prospects that generated this kind of excitement? — JR, Oxford.

A: Yes, Homer Bailey. Like Greene. Bailey was a No. 1 draft pick out of high school, so he spent a lot of time in the minors while fans and the media clamored for his arrival. It happened on June 8, 2007, against Cleveland. He pitched five innings, gave up two runs, five hits, walked four and struck out three. He was the winning pitcher in the Reds’ 4-3 victory. He was anointed as the next Tom Seaver but despite two no-hitters he was 81-86 in 14 seasons. Instead of Tom Seaver, he was Tom Underwood (11 seasons, 86-87.).

Q: Should the Reds still be in the race at the All-Star break, would you consider doing something extraordinary if they make the playoffs? — TYLER, West Carrollton.

A: If you mean shaving my head the way Marty Brennaman once did, well, I’m 81 and proud of my full head of silver hair. So, not that. And, no, I won’t give up cigars. Nor will I set atop a flagpole until they win a playoff game. Actually, though, I don’t think I’ll have to worry about them making the playoffs this year.

Q: What were the three best rule decisions made for the game of baseball? — RICHARD, Blooming, Ind.

A: You’ve stumped me with this one. The DH? Hate it. Interleague play? Hate it. Ghost runner? Deplore it. Seven-inning doubleheaders? Hated it. Three-batter limit for relief pitchers? Hated. The only one I can think of goes back to 1969 when they lowered the mound. That one made sense because pitchers were looking down from Mount McKinley and were totally crushing hitters. With the lower mound, hitters can at least see a pitcher’s face and the baseball doesn’t come down at them from the clouds.

Q: Who will be the closer from this hodge podge of relief pitchers on the Reds’ roster? — JIMMY, Cincinnati.

A: The job appeared to belong to Lucas Sims, but he’ll miss the first portion of the schedule with elbow/back issues. And did you know that 10 different pitchers recorded saves for the Reds last season? And my hunch is that until Sims is ready, it might be closer by committee. . .and we all know how committees work. Take your pick from column A: Hunter Strickland (14 saves in 2018), Luis Cessa, Art Warren, Justin Wilson, Ryan Hendrix, Daniel Duarte, Alexis Diaz, Jeff Hoffman or even a pitcher to be named later.

Q: What is the best-case scenario for the Reds to make the playoffs and what would have to occur? —ALAN, Sugarcreek Twp.

A: Bring back Jesse Winker, Eugenio Suarez, Wade Miley, Sonny Gray, Nick Castellanos and Amir Garrett. Just joking. They need to avoid injuries and the training room already is full. Maybe that is a good thing — get them out of the way now. Several players need to have career years or at least play to their potentials. Unfortunately, even that probably won’t be enough. But that’s why they play the games.

Q: What is the Reds’ best spring training record ever and how did that transfer to the regular season? DUANE, Marion.

A: Former managers Davey Johnson and Dusty Baker always told me they like to finish about .500 … win some, lose some. Spring training records seldom mean anything when it comes to the regular season, for all teams. The Reds have had many close-to-.500 spring trainings in recent years — 17-15, 18-16, 14-14, 17-17. In 2006, they were 22-11 and then went 80-82 and finished third. In 2002 they were 9-22 and finished third at 78-84. For the optimists, the Reds have done well in the work stoppage years that shortened spring training. In 1990, they were 9-7 and won the World Series. In 1995, they were 7-5 and made it to the National League Championship Series. This year, they were 10-7, so …

Q: What was manager Sparky Anderson’s true reasoning for trading Tony Perez to Montreal in 1977?

A: That was not Anderson’s decision. He was vehemently opposed because he realized the importance of Perez to the Big Red Machine, especially in the clubhouse controlling egos. The decision was made by general manager Bob Howsam. Dan Driessen had a good year in 1976 but was without a position. He came up as a third baseman but folks sitting behind first base needed to wear football helmets to protect themselves from Driessen’s throws. Howsam decided first base was his position, so he traded Perez to make room for Driessen in the lineup. In his later years, Howsam said, “That was the worst baseball decision I ever made.” Nobody argued with him.

Q: What is Thom Brennaman doing now? — GREG, Miamisburg.

A: He is extremely remorseful for his use of a gay slur during a Reds broadcast in 2020 and doing all he can to prove he is not homophobic. He did some high school football games on a small Cincinnati radio station and did some Puerto Rican Winter League games by remote from Cincinnati. Unfortunately, he probably will never get a major sports broadcasting job.

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