Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto (19) questions a called third strike with home plate umpire Carlos Torres during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, in Phoenix. The Diamondbacks defeated the Reds 11-2. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

Ask Hal: Don’t look for Votto in pinstripes

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: Have you noticed Jay Bruce’s numbers have declined since he became a dad? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: Fatherhood has not hurt Bruce. He isn’t losing sleep or wasting energy changing diapers. Actually, he was still in Cincinnati when he became a father and was having a great year. Then they traded him to New York and his numbers declined in a New York minute. I was told when he knew he would be traded he went to the Reds and asked them to trade him anywhere but to New York. Guess they didn’t hear him right and thought he said, “Please trade me to New York.”

Q: Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira is retiring after the season. Is there any scuttlebutt about Joey Votto going to New York? — BOB, Kettering.

A: With his 10-year, $225 million contract, Votto has a full no-trade clause. And he isn’t interested in going anywhere. He said before the start of this season, “I love the ballpark location and the fans and the clubhouse and the uniform and the number on my back — littlest things that people take for granted are very comfortable to me.” So, no more Votto rumors, OK?

Q: Didn’t players used to throw their gloves to the ground and leave them on the field between inning? Why did they quit doing it? — MARIE, Greenville, S.C.

A: Yes, they did. It was stopped in 1954. Sometimes batted balls would hit the gloves and sometimes players from the other team on defense would trip or stumble over the discarded gloves. We left our gloves on the field in high school until somebody stole the shortstop’s glove between innings and we never found the glove or the culprit.

Q: If baseball wants to speed up the game, why not just have a batter run immediately to first base on an intentional walk instead of throwing four wide pitches? — JAX, Napolean, OH.

A: First of all, how many intentional walks are issued in a game? Not much time would be saved. And there is always the possibility of a wild pitch and a batter is allowed to swing at one of those pitches if he can reach it. And it has happened — both a wild pitch and a batter swinging at a pitch. If you do that, you better get a base hit or face the wrath of a red-faced manager.

Q: What is the shiny black substance on Brandon Phillips’ batting helmet? — DARRYL, Independence, Ky.

A: It is pine tar, a sticky grease batters put on their bat handles to give them a better grip. Phillips gets it on his batting gloves when he grips the bat and he constantly adjusts his helmet and transfers the goo. Most players have their helmets shined to get rid of it, but some consider it some sort of badge and leave it. Phillips leaves it. Why? Why does Brandon Phillips do anything?

Q: How can the small-market Reds become a big-market team? — FUDD, Cedarville.

A: That’s easy. More money. Follow the money. A lot of fans think the big markets are the big cities and that isn’t necessarily so. It is all about the greenbacks. Do you think the Chicago Cubs are big market or small market? Well, as of Opening Day the Cubs’ payroll was $100,000 smaller than the Reds’ ($116,732,284 to $116,654,522) And the St. Louis Cardinals’ payroll is barely above the Reds at $120,301,597. The Blue Jays, Royals, Mets, Indians, Pirates, Marlins and Astros all have lower payrolls than the Reds. Small-market Reds? Maybe not.

Q: Do you see the Reds gaining momentum for next year to be more of a contender with the youth movement? — JAY, Englewood.

A: Momentum doesn’t carry over from season to season. It’s a new dawn and a new day. And several managers — Davey Johnson and Dusty Baker come to mind — always told me never to judge a team or its players in spring training or in September because you’ll get fooled and tricked. I do think next year’s team will be improved. Contenders? Not really, not with Chicago, St. Louis and Pittsburgh so far ahead of them in their programs.

Q: How come Reds players who appear on the pregame show are given $100 gift certificates to Montgomery Inn and Frontgate when they certainly don’t need them? Why not give them to fans or to charity? — GABE, Ashland, Ky.

A: I have appeared on those shows and have been given those certificates and I can use them and do use them. It is advertising for Montgomery Inn and Frontgate and the players can use them as they see fit. It is just a minor payment to them for their time and I’m sure, like me, they put them to good use.

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