Ask Hal: Who is to blame for Reds season?

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: If you’re the manager of the Cincinnati Reds, who is your starting pitcher in the wild card game? — MICHAEL, Fort Thomas, Ky.

A: First of all, if I’m the manager then pigs must be flying and you can go ice skating in hell. Secondly, are the Reds going to make it? I fear the starting pitcher will be Adam Wainwright. If the Reds make it, my choice would have been the veteran Wade Miley, the team’s most consistent pitcher, until his September woes. My pick now would be the rejuvenated Luis Castillo, who is the best they have right now. Sonny Gray? For some reason the Reds don’t score runs for him.

Q: Who is most to blame for the Reds’ season? —ARLEY, Hamilton.

A: Fans will blame it on manager David Bell, general manager Nick Krall, the bullpen, the sub-.200 hitters, the infield grass at Great American Ball Park and the $10 beer. Actually, put some blame on ownership for forcing Krall to cut $20 million off the payroll, making it difficult to fix a shaky bullpen.

Q: What is the status of Nick Senzel, because the Cincinnati Reds certainly could use hit bat? — TOM, Beavercreek.

A: Senzel could be a human research project for medical students. The guy is a walking medical chart. He most likely is done for the season with a knee problem as his litany of injuries continues. One wonders if the poor guy will ever play a dozen games without getting hurt.

Q: Despite his 100 miles an hour fastball, Hunter Greene’s production hasn’t been that great, so does he have movement on that fastball? — DENNIS, Huber Heights.

A: Many fans keep shouting, “Why don’t the Reds call up Hunter Greene?” Because he isn’t ready. He pitched a little more than 100 innings at Class AA and Class AAA this year, so the Reds shut him down for the season. In 14 starts at Louisville he was 5-8 with a 4.12 earned run average and gave up 11 home runs in 65 1/3 innings. He walked 25 and struck out 79. His fastball didn’t have much movement when he pitched at Class A Dayton, but he is only 22 and is still learning.

Q: There are rumors that Aaron Boone will be fired by the New York Yankees and can you see Boone coming back to Cincinnati to lead the Reds? — SCOTT, Syracuse, NY.

A: If George Steinbrenner still owned the Yankees Boone would have been fired months ago. I hope it doesn’t happen because of my feelings toward Aaron Boone, but I believe it will happen. David Bell has been extended for two years, so that job is closed. If Boone gets dumped, I hope another team picks him up. But I’m prejudiced.

Q: An umpire recently was accused of throwing the entire Detroit grounds crew out of a game and do umpires have the authority to dismiss anyone from the stadium? — JEFF, Troy.

A: It was reported that umpire Tim Timmons ejected the entire Baltimore grounds crew for sitting on a tarp in the field of play. Not true. He merely told them to get off the tarp. But, yes, umpires can eject anybody in the ballpark. A minor league organist was removed from the park for playing ‘Three Blind Mice.’ Washington GM Mike Rizzo was ejected by Joe West for yelling at the umpires from a luxury suite in Atlanta. And umpire Bruce Froemming told me he once ejected every fan in the stands of a minor league game and continued the game with no fans.

Q: Who was the worst owner in team history, starting with 1960? — MAC, Fort Worth, Tex.

A: Most people would say Marge Schott. I wouldn’t, even though she threw me out of the media dining room three times. She may have been a bigot and miserly in her office dealings, but she permitted the baseball people to put together decent teams. My choice is Bill DeWitt for one very stupid move when he traded Frank Robinson for a deflated football, half a roll of toilet paper and a dead mouse and said, “Frank Robinson is an old 31.” So far it is a hung jury on Bob Castellini.

Q: What is your opinion of the automated electronic balls-and-strikes device they are talking about using? — RICHARD, Tipp City.

A: They are already using it on an experimental basis in the old Class A Florida State League, with mixed reviews but mostly bad. As bad as I’ve seen some balls-and-strikes umpires this season, I’m firmly against it. The human element is part of baseball. Umpires make mistakes, but so do players and managers. I wonder what the machine would call if a pitch goes 55 feet and bounces through the strike zone. That’s a ball, but wouldn’t the machine call it a strike because it passed through the strike zone. And isn’t it more fun yelling at Angel, Hernandez and Joe West rather than a machine?

Q: If you woke up from a 20-year sleep and saw seven-inning doubleheaders and a runner at second base to start extra-inning games, what would you think happened to baseball? — TIM, Xenia.

A: If I woke up from a 20-year nap I’d be 101 years old and somebody would have to turn the TV on for me. And if I saw what you described I’d believe I was watching the return of a three-ring circus, complete with the clowns because of some of the uniforms they wear these days.

About the Author