Ask Hal: MLB salary cap? Don’t hold your breath

Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto (19) celebrates with Aristides Aquino (44) and Max Schrock all three scored on Votto's three-run home run off Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Cody Ponce (44) during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Caption
Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto (19) celebrates with Aristides Aquino (44) and Max Schrock all three scored on Votto's three-run home run off Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Cody Ponce (44) during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Credit: Gene J. Puskar

Credit: Gene J. Puskar

Q: Who is the greatest MLB manager who never won a World Series? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: You put that one a tee for me, didn’t you, a slam dunk? There are many. Gene Mauch. Buck Showalter. Bill Rigney. Art Howe. Al Lopez. Joe Cronin. Jimmy Dykes. The top of the list for me is Dusty Baker, who just lost his second World Series. Baker has been with five different teams and taken them all to the playoffs, but he still doesn’t own a World Series ring. But at least he got the Giants and Astros there and here’s hoping he gets another chance.

Q: Considering the big money some markets receive from TV contracts, do you ever see MLB having a (salary) cap like the NFL so small-market teams have a more level playing field? — SCOTT, Hattiesburg, Miss.

A: We’ll see what happens during current negotiations for a new contract. The players are adamant that there will be no salary cap. Why not? It puts limitations on those gargantuan contracts players are receiving. The MLBPA (Major League Baseball Players Association) could not care less about competitive balance. The only balance they care about is a player’s balance sheet.

Q: Do players in the World Series make more money if it goes seven games than they do if it only goes four? — STEVE, Piqua.

A: To prevent skullduggery, players only share in receipts for the first four games, the minimum amount of games that can be played. That’s to prevent players from conspiring to make the Series go seven games to sweeten the money pool. However, teams make more money if the Series goes seven games, which is why former Reds owner Marge Schott was angry when her Reds swept the A’s in four games in 1990.

Q: Will any of the Astros from the 2017 cheating scandal be denied the Hall of Fame? — PAT, Columbus.

A: That, of course, is up to each voting member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. But I doubt it. It was never revealed who participated, who knew and who didn’t know. It was more like Team Disgrace. And it is something that most non-Astros fans will never forget and will hold against the team forever.

Q: When the history of the Reds is written, what will be said about the Bob Castellini era? — SCOTT, Syracuse.

A: It will be said that he promised fans a return to glory and failed. Mr. Castellini is too much of a fan and insiders say he meddled when it came to trades because he and his wife had favorite players he wanted to keep. His heart is in the right place, but not his head. Another insider said the team would be better off if Bob stepped aside and turned it over to his son, Phil, who runs the marketing and is highly competent. And if I said all this during the Marge Schott era my dining room privileges would be revoked.

Q: Yogi Berra hit the first pinch-hit home run in a World Series game, so did earlier teams not use pinch-hitters? —DICK, Hendersonville, Tenn.

A: That was in 1947 and he was known as Larry Berra. It was his rookie year and he had appeared in few than 100 games. His homer came off Brooklyn’s Ralph Branca (Yes, Bobby Thomson’s shot heard ‘round the world) in Game 3. He later became Yogi. Yes, pinch-hitters were rare. Pitchers went nine innings, win or lose, most of the time, and pinch-hitters were nearly unheard of. Now if a manager doesn’t use five pinch-hitters in game he is disciplined for derelict of duty.

Q: The two World Series managers (Atlanta’s Brian Snitker, Houston’s Dusty Baker) were baseball lifers, not the new wave data analytical types, so will this lead to moving back away from the data scientists running game? — JASON, Morrow, Oh.

A: Unfortunately, no. While Snitker and Baker are old-schoolers, they are wise enough to appease the front office by at least reading the analytics and acting as if they use some of it. They probably do. What they do is perfect under current circumstances. They blend the analytics with how they feel in their guts. But analytics are here to stay.

Q: What is your feeling about the designated hitter coming to the National League and what are the pros and cons? – JEFF, Kettering.

A: I think it stinks and wish it would not be used in either league. They make baseball gloves for a reason and a player should be required to use both a bat and a glove. What it does is give older guys who can’t run any more a few extra years, but to me it takes so much strategy out of the manager’s hand, so much so that he becomes more of a spectator than a dictator.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Q: How many kids get to watch the World Series games these days when Houston’s amazing comeback win in game 6 ended, after 4 hours, at 12:15 a.m. — ALAN, Dayton

A: Kids? How about adults? I had friends tell me they either fell asleep in their La-z-boys or hit the hay before game’s end. It’s all about the money. The networks want prime time so they get prime time. Never again will you see a World Series game in daylight. As far as winning over kids as fans, MLB keeps shooting itself in the fan interest file.

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