Q: Are the players in favor of a robot umpire calling balls and strikes? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.
A: It depends on each player, hitter or pitcher. They all agree, though, that they’d rather have a mechanical bull call balls and strikes than Angel Hernandez. Like players, there are good balls-and-strikes umpires and not-so-good balls-and-strikes umpires. Most batters favor the robots because the strike zone will be consistent. But a lot of pitchers like human umpires with large, expanded strike zones.
Q: After watching it for a couple of months, who do you believe benefits most from the time clock, pitcher, or batter? — BRIAN, Wheelersburg.
A: The fans. A lot of wasted time has been eliminated and fans don’t even have time to send text messages from the stands. It seems, though, that the pitcher has the slight advantage. The time clock has disrupted batter routines like adjusting batting gloves and taking strolls outside the batter’s box after every pitch. Once they are in the batter’s box, they better be ready. Most pitchers seem to like the hurry up and pitch rule.
Q: In your storied history, what MLB umpire made the most theatrical gestures when calling a batter out on a called third strike? – GREG, Beavercreek.
A: Enrico Pallazzo in the movie Naked Gun was the all-time best, but he was fictional. Dutch Rennert was both animated and loud when he called, “Steeeee-rike threeeeee.” And Bruce Froemming demonstrably called a batter out and glared at the hitter, hoping he protested vehemently so Froemming could throw him out. Rennert was the umpire who missed a call at first base that caused Reds manager Lou Piniella to yank first base from its moorings and wing it into right field.
Q: Where do you see Jonathan India a year from now? — SHAWN, Pitsburg, OH.
A: I see him right where he is now, playing second base and batting leadoff or third in the order. Yes, the Reds have supreme talent from the minors on the horizon, but they still have contractual control over India next season. And he is the heart and soul of the team, a great player to be surrounded by up-and-coming young players in a rebuild.
Q: What is your opinion of teams using multiple pitchers every game? — MARYILYNNE, Sugarcreek Two.
A: I don’t like it, but baseball is a game of trends and copycatting. Right now, using relief pitchers one inning at a time is the way they all go. It mystifies me that a relief pitcher arrives in the seventh inning, strikes out the side, then heads for the shower, replaced by another pitcher. If a manager doesn’t use five pitchers a game, he is behind the times.
Q: When a pitcher is charged with a time violation and a ball is called, or the violation is on the hitter and a strike is called, do they count as a pitch thrown by the pitcher? — STEVE, Houston, TX.
A: It can’t be called a pitch because the ball was never thrown. A pickoff throw to first base, or any base, does not count as a pitch, either, because the ball wasn’t thrown to home plate. And it is a good thing. With 100 pitches, or a few more, usually the limit for a starting pitcher, the last thing they need is a pitch added to their total when they don’t throw it.
Q: When a player makes his debut, does the team give him free tickets for his family and friends to attend the game? — MICHAEL, Beavercreek.
A: It probably varies between teams, but every player is given a certain allotment of free tickets for each game. As I recall, the Reds gave players six freebies each. Players also borrow free tickets from other players who aren’t using them, like when a player visits his hometown and has a big demand for tickets. When you see Jim Day of Bally Sports Ohio interviewing parents in the stands when their son is making his debut, those tickets are club freebies. After the player exhausts his free tickets, he must beg, borrow or pay for the rest.
Q: Any chance the Reds pick up a competent, experienced starting pitcher to baby-sit the young pitchers? — ARLEY, Hamilton.
A: Always a chance for about anything. Competent and experienced starting pitchers are hard to come by via in-season trades. For the Reds, it might depend upon them continuing to compete at a high level, which they are doing to the surprise of everyone, including their own front office. Maybe they can re-acquire Sonny Gray or Luis Castillo or Anthony DeSclafani or Kevin Gausman.
Q: Do you think ticket prices are outrageously high to attend Cincinnati Reds baseball games? — TIM, Xenia.
A: For good seats, tickets can get expensive at any venue, not just Cincinnati. And prices depend on day of the week and opponent. You can get tickets for as low as $7 in Great American Ball Park. You can also pay big bucks to sit in a luxury suite, the Diamond Club, the Bally Sports Club, Scouts Alley, or a Dugout Box. Some teams charge $100 or more for seats in the stands. The average MLB ticket for all teams last year with $55. What is outrageous are concession prices. What you pay for one beer at the ballpark will get you a six-pack at Kroger, with some change coming back.
Q: You and other Hall of Famers are allowed to write H.O.F. after your autograph, so much extra would Pete Rose get if he were allowed to do that? — KOZ, Springfield.
A: Zero. Pete Rose’s autographs already are sold at premium prices, and he still sells them in a glass booth in a restaurant at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. He’ll sign a baseball for you for $99 and for an extra charge he’ll add the inscription, “I’m sorry I bet on baseball.” A collector once told me, “The rarest thing in the world is a baseball not signed by Pete Rose.”