Ask Hal: What’s up with Joey Votto’s batting stance?

Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto hits a two-run RBI double during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Cleveland Indians in Cincinnati, Sunday, April 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto hits a two-run RBI double during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Cleveland Indians in Cincinnati, Sunday, April 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

Credit: Aaron Doster

Credit: Aaron Doster

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: Did you do a double take when you heard about Jay Bruce retiring? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: Not at all. Jay Bruce is not one to take money under false pretenses. He struggled last year with the Phillies and early this year with the Yankees. Unlike many, he knew when it was time. He leaves a lasting impression on Reds fans for his 3-for-3 in his first game and his walk-off home run to clinch the 2010 NL Central Division. For me, though, I remember him as one of the most genuine people ever to wear a Reds uniform.

Q: Why is Joey Votto now standing straight up in the batter’s box instead of his usual crouch? — MIKE, Beavercreek.

A: When you get older, like me, it is so difficult to straighten up when you bend over. And Votto is getting older. Actually, he is doing it to hit with more power, drive the ball harder. So far, so good. Votto is a stand-up guy.

Q: Wade Miley was ejected shortly after he had already been taken out of the game, so how can he be thrown out of the game? — DOUG, Brookville.

A: He was excused from the dugout, forced to go to the clubhouse where he no longer could be present to root on his teammates. And there is the little matter of his wallet, which becomes lighter. When a player is ejected, he is automatically fined. So his several words aimed at the umpire cost him about $100 a word.

Q: When Joey Votto started that triple play last week, why didn’t he just run to third and complete an unassisted triple play? TOM, Dayton.

A: I thought the exact same thing. After he caught the line drive and and dove to tag the runner going back into first, the runner on third was sliding home. Votto tossed to third to complete the triple play, but could have jogged across the diamond and tagged third for an unassisted triple play. In the heat of play, I’m sure he never thought about it. He could have joined Cleveland second baseman Bill Wambsganss, who completed an unassisted triple play in the 1920 World Series against Brooklyn.

Q: Has any player in your memory come to the Reds with as much fanfare as Jonathan India? ANGELO, Orlando, Fla. (via Carapito, Venezuela).

A: Jay Bruce and Homer Bailey, both No. 1 draft picks, came up with trumpets blaring. One played some sweet notes, the other hit some off-key notes. And your countryman, Dave Concepcion, arrived with high expectations and fulfilled them. While India has been awaited by fans, the one they are really looking forward to seeing is Hunter Greene and his 102 mph fastballs.

Q: In extra innings, when a runner is started on second base, why don’t managers insert someone at bunting to move the runner to third to give them a better chance of scoring? — JEFF, Hamilton.

A: Being old school, real, real old school, I’ve thought the same thing. Back in the day, they would. But modern analytics tell managers not to give up an out, that they have three chances to score the run rather than two if they don’t bunt. A runner on second is already in scoring position. But a runner on third can score on a sacrifice fly or a wild pitch. I agree. Bunt. But the guys in the computer room shout me down.

Q: With the designated hitter not used in the National League, why don’t hitting coaches work more with pitchers because they are one-ninth of the batting order? — DAN, Urbana.

A: Oh, they do work with them. And work and work and work. Sometimes it pays off. Pitchers don’t always make outs. I covered a game during which pitcher Rick Wise hit two home runs against the Reds. So far this year, Reds pitchers Jose De Leon, Wade Miley and Jeff Hoffman have hits. And there will be more. As I say, let ‘em hit. As Joe Nuxhall always said, “If you swing the bat, you’re dangerous. If you swing the bat, you might hit something.” And Nuxy could hit.

Q: Why is Mike Tyson, a convicted rapist, in the boxing hall of fame while Pete Rose is banned from the baseball hall of fame for betting on baseball? — ROBERT, Zanesfield.

A: That’s one to ask the folks who run the boxing hall of fame. I don’t get a vote. If I did, I wouldn’t vote for Tyson, not only because he was, indeed, convicted of rape in 1992, but he also bit off a piece of Evander Holyfield’s ear during a bout. Now tell me that’s Hall of Fame stuff. Hey, maybe Rose can go into the boxing hall of fame after scoring a split decision over Bud Harrelson in the 1973 NL playoffs.


Q: When a foul ball came into the press box, did you catch it barehanded or duck like Barry Larkin and John Sadak? – GREG, Beavercreek.

A: My theory is the same as Bob Uecker’s on how to handle a knuckleball -- wait until it stops rolling and pick it up. Actually, I did catch one. It was in the 1996 World Series in Yankee Stadium, hit by Derek Jeter. I kept that one and still have it. Mostly, though, it was more like the time I was pounding the keys on my laptop in GABP when Jim Edmonds fouled one right at me. Fortunately, I had my head down and the ball merely parted my hair and crushed a hole in the wall directly behind me.

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