Ask Hal: Ripken’s streak can’t be touched today

Q: Why is it that Cal Ripken Jr. can play sixteen consecutive seasons without missing a start and other players like Nick Senzel is lucky to play sixteen consecutive games? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: Cal Ripken Jr. was an anomaly. His record won’t ever be broken. In these days of analytics, lineups are juggled every day, and nobody plays 162 games, even if healthy. As for Nick Senzel, show some sympathy. Nobody wants to get hurt and nobody tries to get hurt. It happens more often to some than others. Maybe he should put a rabbit’s foot in each of his back pockets. Why not? He has tried everything else.

Q: This may be an overreaction, but could this be the worst season the Reds have ever had? — JOSH, Franklin.

A: Based on current results, it is not an overreaction. As they say, “It’s early,” so things can turn around. The team record for losses in a season is 101 set in 1982. That certainly is within their grasp, but my misguided calculations have them losing 89, based on a weak National League Central, where the Reds play most of their games. But we’re only 15 games (through Saturday) into the season … 145 to go.

Q: How much of Joey Votto’s struggles have to do with no good hitters like Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos batting around him? — JIM, Englewood.

A: Votto is notoriously slower out of the gate than a three-legged thoroughbred. But .167 and no home runs after 14 games (through Friday) is beyond comprehension. I’m sure not having protection in the lineup is a factor, but he is missing hittable pitches. And he is so frustrated his stance and swing seemed different last week on every at bat. That’s not a good formula to resuscitate a deflated batting average.

Q: Will the Reds permit Hunter Greene to continue his high velocity pitches that might ultimately lead to permanent injury? — MICHELLE, Dayton.

A: No organization is going to tell a pitcher who can spin the dial at 100 mph to back it down. It is all about movement and location that leads to success. Greene has good mechanics and an easy motion that doesn’t put strain on his shoulder or arm. Nolan Ryan threw as hard as anybody ever did and he did it for an amazing 27 years and seven no-hitters. Randy Johnson was one of the hardest throwing left handers ever, and was routinely at 100 mph, and he pitched for 22 years. It’s all about taking care of yourself and keeping smooth mechanics.

Q: What incentives could Reds’ management offer to remedy their atrocious PR situation? GREG, Albuquerque, N.M.

A: A muzzle for COO Phil Castellini would be a good start. Lowering the price of beer from $14.25 might help. Most of all, putting a contending team on the field would assuage most of the bad feelings infecting the fan base. That, though, takes time, and the fans are exhausted by the team’s ongoing plan, a plan that should have the team’s name be the Cincinnati Rebuilders.

Q: What’s the over/under on manager David Bell’s tenure this season, 30, 60 or 90 games? ROB, Tipp City.

A: I’ll take the over on this one because I don’t believe Bell is going anywhere. He signed an extension last year and he is not expensive. If they did fire him, it would be obvious he would be the scapegoat for this shipwreck the front office wrought. Tony Perez holds the record, 44 games. Bryan Price started his career 2-14 and survived into his fifth season before a 3-15 start in 2018 got him canned.

Q: You are against most rule changes, but are there two or three that you could go with? — JOHN, Castleton, Ind.

A: You are almost correct. I’ve been against all the recent rule changes. Two or three that I like? I can’t pick one. There is one I can’t wait to see. There are no shifts in the minors this year. There must be two infielders on each side of second base and all infielders must stay on the dirt part of the infield. I have all fingers and all toes crossed that the rule is implemented in the majors next year.

Q: Any chance the baseball commissioner could take control of the Cincinnati Reds because the ownership seems only interested in making money? LOU, Englewood.

A: Baseball is all about making money and that makes the commissioner happy. No chance of MLB taking over. That only happens in cases like when MLB forced Marge Schott to sell the Reds after her string of public racial and ethnic slurs. MLB appointed John Allen to run the team until Carl Lindner purchased the club and made Great American Ball Park the world’s biggest United Dairy Farmers franchise.

Q: What do you miss most and not miss most about traveling with the Reds? — ALAN, Sugercreek Township.

A: I miss the great people I met in all the stadiums, the support people who work the press boxes, I miss the fabulous restaurants and the four-star hotels. I do not miss rushing to airports in the wee hours, only to stand in long TSA lines and then sitting for hours in a stuffy, overcrowded airplane. But sitting in my La-Z-Boy in The Man Cave, cigar in mouth, is a soft-landing after more than four decades on the road. I could tell Jack Kerouac, author of ‘On The Road,’ a thing or three. And I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

About the Author