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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Does a good home plate umpire prepare by knowing a pitcher’s repertoire and a hitter’s strengths and weaknesses? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.
A: A good home plate umpire (and there are many) is completely blindfolded as to who is pitching and who is batting. He concentration is on the strike zone regardless as to who is pitching and who is batting, whether it is Justin Verlander or Justin Timberlake pitching or it is Cody Bellinger or Buffalo Bill Cody batting.
Q: Do the Reds have any plans to try to sign Yasiel Puig, who has been great defensively but with little offensive production? — BOB, Greenville, S.C.
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A: While Puig seems to enjoy Cincinnati and likes his teammates, I feel he will test the free agent market after the season. But unless he picks it up dramatically offensively the rest of the season, he won’t have much interest on the market and the Reds probably won’t pursue him. While I’m not impressed with his offense, he has been amazing with what he is doing off the field for the community. As of this writing, Puig is hitting .210 (worst of the starting eight), but his third in RBIs and tied for third in home runs. But it seems those homers and RBI do not come when the Reds need them. Maybe he is having allergic reactions to licking his bat.
Q: Does Jesse Winker lead the National League in hitting into double plays? — KEITH, Brookville.
A: It only seems as if Winker hits into a double play once a game, especially at crucial moments. Actually, his only tied for sixth in the NL with eight. The leader is Miami’s Starlin Castro with 12. Why don’t people bring up Reds shortstop Jose Iglesias? He has hit into seven, one fewer than Winker. The all-time MLB leader is Albert Pujols with 386 and counting. Second is Cal Rikpen Jr. with 350. Most players who hit into a lot of double plays hit a lot of hard ground balls and run as if wearing combat boots or high heels.
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Q: After their 1-and-8 start, the Reds are playing above .500 and they can maintain that pace what element(s) do they need to make them contenders? — STEVE, Dayton.
A: The National League Central is up for grabs and the Reds are closer to first place than any bottom of the standings team in any division in MLB. They have been on a win one, lose one pace for the most part since that ugly start. They need a seven or eight-game winning streak. The elements are there and what they need most is more offensive production from Joey Votto and Yasiel Puig. They rely too much on the home run and strike out too much, especially in game-deciding situations. While their starting pitching is solid, they all need to go deeper in games or the bullpen occupants won’t be able to lift a napkin by August.
Q: Ty Cobb’s hit total is now listed as 4,189, so what happened to 4,191 and does that mean that Pete Rose’s 4,192nd hit wasn’t the record-breaking hit? — TIM, Xenia.
A: After Rose’s ‘record-breaking hit,’ the SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) people discovered that Cobb’s total included one two-hit game that was recorded twice. So two hits were subtracted. Yes, that means Rose actually broke the record in Wrigley Field and not in Riverfront Stadium. At the time, though, Cobb was still credited with 4,191 until those SABR killjoys went to work. What does it matter. There wouldn’t have been the celebration in Wrigley that happened in Riverfront. And Rose finished with 4,256. That’s the big number.
Q: The Reds traded Alfredo Simon to the Tigers and Dan Straily to the Marlins and which trade do you think the Reds got the better deal? — JR, Oxford.
A: That’s like asking which gift for your birthday you liked best, $1,000 from Grandma Gertie or $1,000 from Uncle Ulysses. The Reds received Eugenio Suarez for Simon and Luis Castillo for Straily, a double steal. Suarez and Castillo are two of the Reds best players while Simon is out of baseball and the Marlins released Straily and he signed with the Orioles. Give the Reds an A+ for both deals and an F for the Tigers and a D- for the Marlins.
Q: Derek Dietrich is so colorful and dynamic, so who was the most colorful player you have witnessed. — JAY, Englewood.
A: We probably need a definition for colorful. The Nasty Boys (Randy Myers, Norm Charlton, Rob Dibble) were Team Colorful for their goofy antics, Neon Deion Sanders (who wore a chain even thicker than Dietrich’s) was a colorful guy, but his act was a shtick and he was quiet and reserved out from under the floodlights. When he was traded from the Reds, he told Cincinnati writers they treated him better than any place he’d been. As a baseball player, well, Sanders was a great football player. The two funniest guys were Dave Parker and Pete Harnisch, for reasons that can’t be repeated in a morning newspaper.
Q: Are the days of Player/Manager over and if not what current player may be up to the task? — RON, Vandalia.
A: As all Reds fans know, Pete Rose was baseball’s last player/manager, but early in his managing career he quit playing without, to this day, officially announcing his retirement as a player. I doubt we’ll ever see another player/manager. A manager’s pre-game preparation is too time-consuming. He has to wade through all those analytical statistics the front office provides him. That would take away too much from his preparation as a player. If there is one player who I think could do it, it would be Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. He manages everything on the field as it is.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Q: Joey Votto consistently chokes up two to four inches on his bat so why doesn’t he just use a shorter bat? — TOM, Springfield.
A: Votto chokes up to gain bat control, which is how he is able to foul off so many pitches. If he used a short bat and held it on the knob, he would still lose bat control. And a shorter bat would give him less hitting surface. Also, a shorter bat wouldn’t help him make contact, which is a major problem for him these days, way too many strikeouts for a contact hitter. It just amazes me how many called third strikes he takes. My old Little League coach, Dinky Barnes, always told me, “If you have two strikes and the pitch is close, swing. If you get called out, it is your fault, not the umpire’s.”