Ask Hal: Why are the Reds waiting to remove Jim Riggleman’s interim tag?

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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2018 Cincinnati Reds: 10 things to know

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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 halmccoy1@hotmail.com.

Q: Who first comes to mind when referencing a player who burned his bridges after he was traded? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: That would be pitcher Mat Latos, one of the most high maintenance players ever with the Reds in my time. After he was traded to Miami he lit into the Reds, ripping everything and everybody as if his failures were the fault of everybody but himself. It wasn’t surprising, because he complained about everything when he was with the Reds, including the socks he had to wear. He was never the same after one good year with the Reds and has bounced around and is now pitching with the independent New Jersey Jackals. Somehow, the team’s nickname fits him perfectly. The best thing to come of the Latos Saga is that he was traded for Anthony DeSclafani.

»MCCOY: Free falling Reds put Riggleman in tough spot

Q: Why do you think the Reds are waiting in regards to giving Jim Riggleman the permanent manager position? — JAY, Englewood.

A: Upper management continues to say they are doing deep research and will conduct their search after the season. Riggleman, of course, is under close observation. After a good start under him the Reds have faltered of late and how they finish the season with nothing to play for will come into play, even though, like Bryan Price, what happens negatively isn’t his fault. The starting pitching continues to be an anchor on his resume. I believe he is more than worthy but I thought the Reds last interim manager, Pete Mackanin deserved a chance, too. But he didn’t get it.

Q: Pitcher Michael Lorenzen is a pretty good hitter and I remember a Reds player named Mel Queen who was an outfielder who became a pitcher. And I remember Rick Ankiel did it, so can you think of any other players who made the switch? — RON, Vandalia.

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A: Ever hear of a guy named Babe Ruth. He began his career as a pitcher, and a darn good one. Then he switched to the outfield and accomplished a thing or two. And there was Brooks Kieschnick, an outfielder primarily with Milwaukee and briefly with the Reds. He hit mammoth batting practice home runs, but wilted in games. In his last two years he became a relief pitcher/pinch-hitter with mild success.

Q: Who has been your favorite non-baseball person to interview and write a story about? — GREG, Beavercreek.

A: I worked for the Detroit Free Press in 1967 and they assigned me to ride the inner city streets with boxing’s heavyweight champion. His name was Muhammad Ali. We would stop the car at nearly every corner and he would get out and talk to kids. At one corner, he approached a little girl and used his famous phrase, “I am the greatest.” Said the little girl, “No you are not. God is the greatest.” Not missing a beat, Ali said, “You’re right, but I have a better left jab.”

»MCCOY: Why is Matt Harvey still with the Reds?

Q: Why, all of a sudden, are there so many major players whose first name begins with ‘Y?’ — GARY, Colerain.

A: Y would you ask that? Probably because the Cleveland Indians were in Cincinnati this week and the Tribe has three players in that category — Yonder Alonso, Yan Gomes and Yandy Diaz. Alonso was asked that question and said, “I don’t know. It might be a Cuban thing. Maybe it is like James, John, Joe, Jamie and Jerry in the U.S. My sister’s name starts with Y, too.” Some other Y’s that come to mind: Yadier Molina, Yasiel Puig, Yasmani Grandal, Yoenis Cespedes, Yuniesky Betancourt, Yovani Gallardo, Yu Darvish, Yunel Escobar, Yorkis Perez, Yangervis Solarte and, just for laughs, Yogi Berra.

Q: Broadcaster Jeff Brantley mentioned that a Reds pitcher threw three change-ups in a row, the wrong thing to do and blamed the pitcher, so shouldn’t the catcher who called the pitches share some blame? — BILL, Dayton.

A: That probably was a knee-jerk reaction because the third pitch was hit out of the park. The blame is that the pitch was left up in hitting zone. Why not throw three change-ups in a row if that’s your best pitch? I often saw Mario Soto, owner of one of the world’s all-time best change-ups, throw nothing but change-ups during one entire at bat. And you can’t blame the catcher. A pitcher doesn’t have to throw what the catcher puts down. He can shake him off.

Q: Which five baseball books are must reads for fans? — JOE, Kettering.

A: One wall of my home office are shelves stuffed with baseball books, many signed by authors. Picking five is tough and subjective. But my favorites begin with books by two former pitchers named Jim. The first is Ball Four by Jim Bouton, highly controversial when it came out in 1970 but tame these days. Former Reds pitcher Jim Brosnan wrote a diary of a season called The Long Season. Former New Yorker Magazine writer Roger Angell’s Summer Game is magical writing. Another Roger from New York, Roger Kahn wrote The Boys of Summer, a timeless and entertaining read. And maybe the best (my opinion) is Lawrence Ritter’s The Glory of Their Times. I would never classify my book, My Half Century Covering the Reds on any best list, but Reds fans might enjoy the nostalgia.

»RELATED: Check out Reds’ player nicknames for Players’ Weekend 2018

Q: MLB has some fun by having players select personal nicknames to wear on the back of their uniforms and I understood that you are best known already by a nickname, but on this designated weekend what bonus name would you choose as your magic moniker? — JACK, Vandalia.

A: It would look silly to have a nickname on the back of my polo shirt while covering a game. But if I were in uniform it would be Bubby. My full name is Harold Stanley Jr., named after my father. But he didn’t want to call me Harold so my mom began calling me Bubby. Why? Never knew. But it stuck and everybody called me Bubby, which I hated, until I was 12. I happened to collect a game-winning hit in a Little League All-Star game and a photographer asked me my name for the cutline and I said Harold. He misheard me and wrote Hal. The name stuck, thank goodness, forevermore.


QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Q: Is a batter allowed to switch from batting right handed to left handed during the same at bat and have you ever seen it happen? ALAN, Sugarcreek Township.

A: Yes, he certainly can. If a switch-hitter bats left against a right handed pitcher and the other team takes out that right hander in the middle of the at bat and bring in a left handed pitcher the switch-hitter can then bat right handed. I saw Pete Rose do it several times. In fact, even if the other team doesn’t change pitchers, the batter can switch sides of the batter’s box after every pitch, if he desires. But he must do it before the pitcher goes into his wind-up. He can’t jump from one side to the other when the pitcher begins his delivery. If a hitter tried that against Bob Gibson he would be wearing a baseball stuck in the ear hole of his batting helmet.