ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 22: Johnny Cueto #47 of the San Francisco Giants reacts as he returns to the dugout after forcing Luis Valbuena #18 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to hit into a double play to end a bases loaded threat in the sixth inning of the game at Angel Stadium on April 22, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

Ask Hal: How would a team of former Reds fare against 2018 squad?

Q: Do you anticipate that the Joey Votto bust in Cooperstown will feature a scruffy stubble of a beard? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: First of all, there is no bust. Hall of Famers are immortalized with copper plaques that cost $55 to make and they hang in a special gallery room in the Hall of Fame museum. Votto has six more years on his contract through 2024 and if he retires at that point he has to wait five more years before being placed on the ballot. With Votto and his quick-growing beard, it would depend on what photo they use to transfer to his plaque. I’m guessing the hallowed hall would prefer a clean-shaven Votto.

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Q: Can you put together an All-Star team of former Reds playing for other teams, position by position? — MELISSA, Pensacola, Fla.

A: Maybe not an All-Star team, but a very good team. Here goes: C Yasmani Grandal, 1B Edwin Encarnacion, 2B Ronald Torreyes, SS Didi Gregorius, 3B Todd Frazier, LF Ryan LaMarre, CF Shin-Soo Choo, RF Jay Bruce, pitchers Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Dan Straily, Aroldis Chapman, Brad Boxberger, Ryan Madson, Tony Cingrani (check his Dodgers stats). Add Yonder Alonso and Zack Cozart to the bench. Could this team beat the current Reds? Eight out of 10 times.

Q: Do you recall a fan ever winning the truck located 502 feet from home plate at Great American Ball Park? — JOHN, Oxford.

A: This question comes in at least once a year. Yes, I can easily recall it, because no Reds player ever has hit that vehicle perched high in the sky above left center field and set way, way back. It would take a marksman with a bazooka to hit that truck. Fortunately, though no fan has ever won it, the truck is donated to a needy fire department after the season. 

Q: The catcher pays a visit to the mound to give a pitcher in the bullpen more time to warm up, then the manager comes to the mound to give him a little more time, so does that count as two visits? — RON, Vandalia.

A: No, that is only one visit. The new rule says a catcher/player, coach or manager may make only six visits to the mound per game. On the seventh visit by anybody, the pitcher must be removed. And the rule still stands that if a manager or coach visits the same pitcher twice in one inning, that pitcher must be removed. And a clock starts ticking at 30 seconds the moment a coach or manager leaves the dugout to visit the mound. They must leave after 30 seconds. Have you seen some of those older pitching coaches trudge and limp to the mound? They take 25 seconds to get to the mound and must deliver their message in five seconds because the umpire is there shooing them off the mound.

Q: The Reds have been rebuilding for several years, so can you define what that means when the farm system is lousy and the Reds budget doesn’t allow for free agents? MESA BILL, Tipp City.

A: Wish I could and I probably can’t because I’m not sure the Reds know. Whatever it is, it isn’t working so far. They seem to think that doing it means trading established stars for suspects/prospects. The only possible success stories so far are Eugenio Suarez, Scott Schebler and Adam Duvall and none of those three are certainties yet. To really successfully ‘rebuild’ they are going to have to invest money in established players to eventually become contenders. And I hope I don’t hear any club official ask for patience because fans can only be patient for so long and so far it is too long.

Q: Do you consider it silly that a player places his sun glasses on the top of the bill of his cap when that does not good as far as shading his eyes from the sun? — BRIAN, Bellbrook.

A: Not only silly, but stupid. But it looks cool and ballplayers want to look cool at all times. Which player was it who said, “No matter which way the wind blows, I’m cool.” Players used to have flip-down sun glasses that spring-loaded under the bill of their cap. If a fly ball came their way, they tapped the bill and the glasses plopped down in front of their eyes. But they don’t look cool and few players use them. I always laugh out loud when a player has his Oakleys on top of his head and loses a ball in he sun. Happens all the time.

Q: Most Reds players have facial hair and what year did they change that rule from back when Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and all the Reds had no facial hair? — DON, Tunica, Miss.

A: I saw your photo on Facebook with your long hair and mustaches, so you’d never play for The Big Red Machine. Club President Bob Howsam had a rule, no facial hair of any kind. No beards, no mustaches, no long hair. Bobby Tolan got himself traded by refusing to cut his hair. It worked because all the stars went along with it. It changed in 1999 when the Reds acquired outfielder Greg Vaughn and he came arrived with a mustache and refused to shave it. Owner Marge Schott acquiesced and the rule was dead. Now, it seems as if every pitcher in the majors wants to look like Grizzly Adams.

Q: Any chance the Reds lose more games than the 1916 Philadelphia Athletics? — JASON, Miamisburg.

A: You’ve done your homework. Most people ask if the Reds can lose more games than the 1962 New York Mets, who set the major league record with 120 losses. But they did it in a 162-game schedule. The 1916 A’s lost 117 in a 154-game schedule. The A’s won only 34 games while the ’62 Mets won 40 (two games were rained out and not made up). Philadelphia’s .235 winning percentage is the worst in baseball history. The Mets won at a .250 clip. The Mets, though, had an excuse. They were a first-year expansion team while the A’s were formed in 1901, 15 years before they lost 117. Can the Reds do it? As bad as they appear right now, I doubt it. But they might lose 100.


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