A: I have been a strong proponent from Day One. I voted for him for 15 straight years. Yes, he is no longer eligible to be voted upon by the writers. His only chance is with the various Hall of Fame committees and he doesn’t seem to have much support there. It is a shame because his numbers are better than Hall of Fame shortstops like Ozzie Smith, Luis Aparicio, Peewee Reese and Phil Rizzuto. I always tell Davey he should have learned to do the back flip, the way Ozzie Smith did when he ran onto the field. Unfortunately, Concepcion is lost in the national consciousness because he played with all the Big Red Machine icons. And that’s a shame because he was a huge part of it.
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Q: Aristides Aquino has an unorthodox batting stance and do you recall any former Reds that had an unconventional batting stance? — JOHN, Oxford.
A: Aquino stands facing the pitcher, a wide-open stance. But as the pitcher starts his wind-up, Aquino shifts into a normal approach. I can’t recall any Reds player with that approach, but I do remember Dick McAuliffe of the Detroit Tigers and Gil McDougald of the New York Yankees facing the pitcher. Like Aquino, they quickly closed their stances. Hey, with the way Aquino is hitting, don’t mess with success. You can almost hear the baseball scream when he hits it and don’t you just love his nickname, “The Punisher?”
Q: The Reds have a great shortstop, the best since Barry Larkin, so why haven’t they signed him for the future? — RUSSELL, Cincinnati.
A: Are you referring to Jose Peraza? Oh, you mean Jose Iglesias. I agree. Iglesias is even better defensively than Larkin or Dave Concepcion, and those guys were superb. Larkin was better all-around, especially offensively. Iglesias is a defensive Mandrake the Magician and is a living piece of leather. And he is clutch with the bat. There is no hurry for the Reds to sign him, they can do it after the season. If they don’t they are making a major faux pas.
Q: Can you remember a worse defensive first baseman than Joey Votto, who just plain missed a pickoff throw by Robert Stephenson and made the worst attempt to dive at a ball inside the bag in a span of two games? — BILL, Dayton.
A: Votto won a Gold Glove in 2011 and was a finalist (top three) the last two years. Too often, offense plays a part in Gold Glove selections, which shouldn’t enter into a defensive equation. Votto is not a natural with the glove, but works diligently on his defense. Plastic Man (remember him?) couldn’t have caught Stephenson’s throw. Votto’s dive was long after the ball was past him and was superfluous. No need to dive. Even if he could have or should have made those plays, he shouldn’t be judged on two plays. Judge him a full body of work. My grade: Average.
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Q: Why do players bother to argue balls and strikes with umpire when the call cannot be reversed and is there more of that with this year’s Reds? — KEB, Tipp City.
A: It does seem ludicrous, but it is human nature to be confrontational when they believe they have been wronged. What I notice is that umpires are more lenient these days at permitting histrionics from players like throwing up their hands or dropping their bats and putting their hands on their hips and staring at umpires. Back in the day that posturing earned instant ejection. It isn’t just the Reds, although it seems Joey Votto believes all strike three calls on him are wrong. Let’s hope robots never take the umpire’s place, but if it happens it will be funny to watch reactions of players called out on strikes by R2D2.
Q: How many gloves do major league players go through during a season? — JOE, Englewood.
A: Most players use just one, their ‘Gamer.’ They break one in during practice during the previous season and in spring training, then use it all season while breaking in another one during practice. Since they are free from the manufacturers, most have several in their lockers. But if they like one, well, Hal Morris used one dog-eared glove his entire career, so worn it had a hole in the pocket. Ken Griffey Jr. had at least a dozen black gloves in his locker, but always used the same one. To baseball players, gloves are like a favorite pair of pajamas.
Q: Will Yasiel Puig return to Cincinnati next year because he will be a free agent after the season? — MARK, Kettering.
A: He is doing great in Cleveland and the Tribe might try first. But I believe he will test free agency. He loved it in Cincinnati and everybody loved him. The big question is whether the Reds are interested in his return and if they can find enough cash. Aristides Aquino seems to be a physical clone to Puig. And if he continues doing what he has done so far, he might be the new version of Yasiel Puig.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Q; The Reds did pretty well with David Bell serving his suspension so would they be better off the rest of the year with him staying out of the dugout? — GREG, Beavercreek.
A: If you believe Bell wasn’t involved during his six-game suspension, you are naive, my friend. Bell’s hand remained in everything. He was allowed to be with the team right up until game time. He was in the clubhouse before games, making out the lineups and leading the pre-game meetings to form a game plan. Acting manager Freddie Benavides ran the games, but Bell’s game plan and suggestions were in Benavides’ pocket.