Ask Hal: Award for Bell? Maybe one for survival

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 halmccoy1@hotmail.com.

Q: While driving along Ohio’s cornfields do you catch yourself watching for past legends of baseball to come walking out? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: If anybody sees this legally blind octogenarian driving, immediately call the authorities. The other day, while riding shotgun with my friend Ray Snedegar at the wheel of his white GMC truck, we were headed north on Ohio 49 through Phillipsburg. I thought I spotted Hall of Famer Jesse Haines emerge from some cornstalks, but I was loaded up with painkillers for my broken hip and it most likely was just the Farmer in the Dell.

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Q: Considering what David Bell had to start with and the dismal start of the season could he still be considered for manager of the year since the team has played relatively well since then? JOE, Butler Twp.

A: That would be a stretch no rubber band could survive. And unprecedented. No last-place manager has ever won Manager of the Year. For sure, Bell is doing the best he can with the tattered pieces he has left on this team, but it certainly isn’t Manager of the Year stuff. The front office made certain that wouldn’t happen. The only award he might win is Surviving Manager of the Year.

Q: Are we seeing Joey Votto’s last season? — MIKE, Indianapolis.

A: Only if you don’t watch any games next year. Votto, who had season-ending shoulder surgery Friday, will do everything possible to make his last season (2023) productive. Even with dwindling results, Votto is the team’s most popular player. And the Reds, with their plethora of young suspects, won’t be competitive next year and they can keep Votto for his drawing power and the knowledge and experience he can impart.

Q: At the beginning of the season you said that bringing Albert Pujols back to St. Louis was a publicity stunt, so do you still feel that way? — CATHY, St. Louis.

A: For the second time, I owe Albert Pujols an apology. The first time I ever wrote about him I called him Luis, confusing his with light-hitting catcher Luis Pujols of the Houston Astros. And while I still believe St. Louis brought Albert back so he could celebrate his last season where he was a superstar — a publicity gimmick — he has furnished bonus points with his part-time production, like the two home runs (688, 689) he hit last week to beat Milwaukee. He has not just been a trinket from the past to admire, he is part of the Cardinals’ success. Hey, Albert, thanks for the memories … past and present.

Q: If the ghost runner on second base in the 10th inning scores on a single, then the pitcher retires the next three batters, who is charged with the earned run? — LARRY, Piqua.

A: If the ghost runner scores on a base hit or scores on a bases loaded walk, the run does not count against the pitcher’s ERA. It’s not the pitcher’s fault he was on base to begin with. All other earned runs after the ghost runner scores are counted against the pitcher’s ERA the traditional way. And what happens to that first run? Like the runner, it is a ghost in the wind. Since Commissioner Rob Manfred implemented the ghost runner, I believe every ghost runner that scores should be charged to Manfred and let’s see what his ERA is at the end of the season — probably higher than the Reds’ bullpen.

Q: Why did Reds manager David Bell stick so long with Hunter Strickland as his closer when Strickland couldn’t get anybody out? — GREG, Miamisburg.

A: Bell believes in The Fair Shot Dictum. And he probably thought, “Nobody can be this bad. Let’s give him another shot and another shot.” Finally, recently, Bell decided Alexis Diaz might be a better option. His brother, Edwin Diaz, is the closer for the Mets and has awesome music played as he walks in from the bullpen. It is called ‘Narco’ and sounds like Diaz is entering a bullfight. It will be difficult for Alexis to top Edwin on the mound and on the music charts.

Q: Aristides Aquino flexed his muscles when he hit his first home run since May, so why doesn’t he have a move when he strikes out the rest of the time? — RON, Vandalia.

A: He does. He drops his head and stares at the ground during his trip back to the dugout. Remember when he hit 14 home runs in one month? He has hit 16 total since. There doesn’t appear to be a slider he can put his bat on, and it is something he has to remedy … and fast.

Q: The Reds trade Brandon Drury but kept Mike Moustakas, so what’s wrong with this picture? — ED, Kettering.

A: It looks out of focus, but don’t blame the Reds. Blame the intelligence of other teams. Do you want Drury, the Reds’ best offensive player, or do you want Moustakas, a $14 million a year bust for the past year and a half? The Moose has not been on the loose on the basepaths. The Reds most certainly wanted to trade him, but had no takers.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Q: With the young pitchers reaching their innings limits, what are the Reds going to do for pitchers in September? — STOCC, Miamisburg.

A: With Hunter Greene missing games with injuries and Nick Lodolo missing more than the first half of the season, innings pitched are no problem for them and they should finish the season. As if it really matters for this already lost season, the Reds have options already on the staff in the bullpen. Jeff Hoffman and Reiver Sanmartin, for example, have starting experience. They will have to do because Johnny Vander Meer, Don Gullett, Tom Seaver, Jose Rijo, Tom Browning and Bronson Arroyo are not available.

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