Q: I was under the impression that the Cleveland baseball franchise transitioned from Spiders to Indians in honor of their Native American player named Louis Sockalexis, so wouldn’t a name change be unconscionable to no longer honor him? — TERRY, Washington Twp.
A: It is true that the Indians name was to honor Sockalexis, but Native Americans object to the Indians nickname. Maybe the franchise should have called itself the Cleveland Sockalexis if they truly wanted to honor him and shorten it to the Cleveland Socks.
Q: Why can’t managers suggest that hitters other than Ted Williams hit the other way against those dramatic overshifts? — DENNIS, Huber Heights.
A: They could, if they wanted to do it. Obviously, they don’t. And every hitter these days believe they can do what Ted Williams did and drive through the shifts. As Ken Griffey Jr., once told me, “They can shift all the want, but they can’t put a defender in the right field seats.” That’s the crux. They all want to hit home runs.
Q: Would you rather see Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell try using some of his younger bullpen arms rather than running Michael Lorenzen and Cody Reed out there every game? — KEITH, Brookville.
A: So far he has tried everybody — young, old, rookie, veteran – and nothing has worked. There hasn’t been a trustworthy arm out there. It does seem odd that he keeps running Lorenzen out there in high-leverage situations when he failed in six of his first seven appearances. They need to back off and use him in blowout games to see if he can work out of his misery.
Q: Do any MLB pitchers still use the knuckleball, or is it still too hard to control and to hard to catch? — TED, Hamilton.
A: The knuckleballer has gone the way of The Great Auk. Extinct. The last true knuckleballer was Steven Wright (no, not the comedian, although it was sometimes laughable watching hitters try to hit it and catchers try to catch it.). He pitched briefly in 2019 for the Boston Red Sox. The knuckler peaked in 1970 when seven knuckleball pitchers, including Hall of Famers Phil Niekro and Hoyt Wilhelm, combined for 47 wins and 44 saves, Yes, it is hard to control and not even the pitcher knew which way it would break. And it gives catchers nightmares. Catcher Bob Uecker once said, “The best way to catch a knuckler is to wait until it stops rolling and pick it up.”
Q: With regard to game knowledge, teaching skills, communication and fiery competitiveness, who are your top three Reds manager since 1968? — DAVE, Hattiesburg, Miss.
A: Every manager has positives and negatives and it is the manager with more positives than negatives that succeeds. Of course, good players are a necessity. Sparky Anderson, based on success, is at the top of the list and he had all the positive qualities. So did my No. 2 choice, Lou Piniella, with fiery competitiveness and teaching skills his strong points. No. 3 is Dusty Baker, who owned all those skills, with communication at the top of his list. Give me good players and I’ll take any of those three to lead my team.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Q: What is the most memorable baseball event(s) you’ve covered? — AMANDA, Dayton.
A: In 47 years of covering baseball, that’s a difficult one. Start with my formative baseball-writing career with the 1975-76 Reds World Series titles. In my naivete I thought it would always be that way. Then came 101 losses in 1982. Tom Browning’s perfect game was a perfect event for me. Pete Rose gets two mentions for his 44-game hitting streak and the hit to pass Ty Cobb and turn Rose into ‘The Hit King.’ Mix in the 1990 wire-to-wire World Series champions and I have a potpourri full of fond memories.