19 Aug 1998: First-baseman Mark McGwire #25 of the St.Louis Cardinals stands and talks to Sammy Sosa #21 of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago,Illinois. The Cardinals defeated the Cubs 8-6.
Photo: Contributing Writer
Photo: Contributing Writer

Ask Hal: Which era been the most detrimental to baseball?

Q: Which era of MLB has been the most detrimental to the game — free agency, PEDs, juiced baseballs, video replays, defensive shifts or pitch counts? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: How about all of the above? Free agency makes players mercenaries, moving from team to team. Juiced baseballs have turned the game into Home Run Derby. Video replays delay games and they still don’t always get it right. Shifts are the product of too much analytics. Pitch counts are silly. But the worst was the PED era that has skewered statistics forever and ruined many Hall of Fame candidates’ chances.

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Q: What can you tell us about Jose Iglesias? — KEITH, Brookville.

A: I can tell you that he is this year’s Scooter Gennett. The Reds picked up Gennett for nothing when the Milwaukee Brewers released him and they did the same with Iglesias, picking him up when the Detroit Tigers didn’t re-sign him. At shortstop, Iglesias is as smooth as silk tie and covers his position like a quilt covers a king-sized bed. He has delivered some big hits. And the best part? He cost the Reds nothing but the ink on his contract and his salary.

Q: A friend suggested to me that if baseball players want to stand at home plate and admire the balls they hit, maybe they should take up golf where you can stand and admire every ball you hit? — RICK, Vandalia.

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A: Nearly every baseball player I’ve run across already plays golf, especially pitchers. When I played golf I didn’t want to stand and watch my ball slice into the woods. I have no problem with players admiring their handiwork, but they should do away with the bat flip/fling. Maybe pitchers should start flipping their gloves high in the air when they strike out a batter.

Q: I have read a lot about how well the Reds get along with each other so did you ever know of a team that hated each other but still won consistently? — RON, Vandalia.

A: Hate is a strong word. I do know The Big Red Machine was a total Mutual Admiration Society. But in the same era the Oakland A’s reportedly had clubhouse and dugout squabbles all the time, but they were more than consistent winners. They fought each other off the field but came together to fight the other team on the field.

»MCCOY: Winker, Bell ejected as Reds blanked by Mets

Q: Do the Reds have a team psychologist on staff for some players in hitting slumps that need their minds cleared? — GREG, Hilliard.

A: With the Reds hitting miseries, a psychiatrist might be more apropos than a psychologist. No, there is no psychologist/psychiatrist/shrink on staff, but I am sure they could find one if needed. The 1990 team didn’t have one, even though the Nasty Boys (Norm Charlton, Randy Myers, Rob Dibble) were all certifiable, and they admitted it. But the Reds didn’t want to change anything about those wild and crazy guys.

Q: Which Reds players performances so far have been the most surprising, positively or negatively? — ALAN, Sugarcreek Twp.

A: I am shocked that Scott Schebler couldn’t hit a basketball thrown at him right now. I thought he’d be a consistent batting average/power hitter. Although Joey Votto always seems to start slow, I’m surprised that his home run power has disappeared. I am pleasantly surprised by the power hitting, especially to the opposite field, by Jesse Winker. He had the reputation of being strictly a pull hitter with no much power. Surprise!

Q: Since it is Marty’s (Brennaman) last year, is there any chance he’ll join his son, Thom, on a TV broadcast this year? — RONDA, West Alexandria.

A: Marty, for some reason, doesn’t like doing television, although that would be something viewers would love. It is more likely that Thom might join Marty in the radio booth. Marty’s hero is Vin Scully, who did TV for the Dodgers for about a hundred years, so I don’t know why he wouldn’t want to do TV. But his schtick is radio and I guess, like me, he is old, old, old school and baseball is best-suited to radio.

Q: In the bottom of the 10th on Tuesday the Mets had one out and runners first and third. Pete Alonso hit a long fly that Yasiel Puig caught in deep right field. The runner on third tagged up and scored. What if the runner on first played it halfway to second and after the catch went to celebrate rather than tag up at first. If Puig throws to Joey Votto who steps on first is it too late as the winning run has already scored and game over or is it side out and on to the 11th inning? — JERRY, Lebanon.

A: First of all, your scenario is incorrect. There were no outs when Alonso hit the game-winning sacrifice fly. But to answer your question I checked in with Chris Welsh and his baseballrulesacademy.com web-site (It’s free and it is good). Puig’s throw to first base would have had to get there before the runner from third crossed home plate, which is highly unlikely. Thus the run still would have counted and the Reds still would have lost.

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