Ask Hal: Will Scooter Gennett be in a Reds uniform next season?

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

Q: Are you prepared for day in the near future when you head for Great American Ball Park in a self-driving car and cover a robot-umpired Reds game? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

»RELATED: Gennett inching closer to return

A: I already have a robot driver. My friend/driver, Ray Snedegar, has done it so often he can drive to Cincinnati blindfolded and sometimes I think he does. As for robot umpires, even R2-D2 would miss calls. And would Joey Votto argue a third strike call with a robot. Probably yes.

Q: Do you think Scooter Gennett will be in a Reds uniform next season? — JOHN, Fort Wayne, Ind.

A: Gennett will be a free agent after this season and the Reds have shown no sign of offering him a contract extension. Gennett has a serious problem in that he hasn’t played a game this season, making his worth as a free agent suspect. Perhaps the Reds can sign him at a bargain price. Will they sign Gennett and Derek Dietrich? One or the other? Neither? The answer(s) probably are contingent on how the Reds finish the season and how those two finish.

»RELATED: Pitcher goes deep, but Reds fall to Nationals

Q: If Bob Gibson were pitching the ninth inning for the Reds after the Pirates hit Eugenio Suarez in the eighth, what do you think would have happened? — ALAN, Sugarcreek Twp.

A: Every Pirates batter in the ninth would be eating dust until Gibson hit one and the umpire threw him out of the game. That doesn’t happen these days because of the rules. If somebody gets hit these days and the umpire believes it is intentional, he issues a warning to both teams. The next batter that gets hit earns the opposing pitcher and manager instant ejection, eliminating retaliation. With the Reds and Pirates, somebody gets hit in nearly every game, 136 times in recent seasons. If the umpires want to stop it, they should issue a warning to both teams before the game — first batter hit intentionally and the pitcher and his manager are ejected. Desperate measure for desperate times.

Q: Gee, maybe Nick Senzel should have been on the team from day one and what are your thoughts? — BOB, Washington Twp.

A: This is not to say that the Reds would have called him up sooner, but Senzel was coming off an injury and was still learning the outfield, which is why he spent a few games at Triple-A Louisville. It gave the Reds an easy out. They had an excuse so they didn’t have to try to hide the fact they kept him down on the farm to save service time. He is still making mistakes and misjudgements in the outfield because he is learning on the fly. But his offense is already big league, especially his plate discipline as a leadoff hitter.

Q: Is there any secret formula the Reds coaching staff relies on that could allow starting pitcher to hang around for a rare complete game? GREG, Beavercreek.

A: The formula is not secret and it is called analytics. It isn’t just the Reds. Pitchers are groomed to try to go six innings and/or 100 pitches. Unless they are pitching a no-hitter, they are yanked at the first sign of distress and it is industry-wide. That’s why teams have eight pitchers in their bullpens and why they are paid the big bucks to come in and douse uprisings. Starting pitchers don’t even talk about complete games. It is a foreign phrase.

Q: I am convinced the Reds’ poor hitting is due to defensive shifts. What statistics determine the effectiveness of shifts and are they so complicated the common fan can’t understand? — JERRY, Centerville.

A: It isn’t just the Reds. Batting averages are down all over baseball and singles are disappearing. Home runs are the big thing these days. There are no shifts to stop baseballs from flying over the walls. It isn’t complicated at all. Teams chart where every player hits every ball and they come up with spray charts. Those charts show the percentages of where each player hits the ball. The shifts are employed according to the charts. When more players begin employing the bunt, those exaggerated shifts will become more moderate.

Q: When a manager asks for a replay/review, why does it take two umpires to listen in on the decision from New York and don’t they trust one umpire to be honest? — PENNIE, Springfield.

A: The reason there are two is that one umpire is the crew chief and the other umpire is the one that made the call. If an umpire would render the opposition decision of what was made in New York, that umpire would be flipping hamburgers the next day. Sometimes those decisions take so long I wonder if they are asking each other how the wife and kids are doing and where the crew is going to dinner that night.

Q: Which is worse as a fan, wearing a Bengals shirt to a Reds game or wearing a Reds shirt to a Bengals game? — RON, Vandalia.

A: No worries about that in the press box. We are requested not to wear the gear of any team in he press box. Objectivity, y’know. I must admit that I have never seen a fan wearing a Bengals jersey at a Reds game. Right now the worst thing I can think of is a fan wearing a Pirates jersey at a Reds game. That fan certainly would get thrown at.


Q: What are your thoughts about the protective netting at ballparks? — BRENDAN, Bellbrook.

A: There are enough concussions suffered by pro athletes without including fans. Too many fans are concentrated on their cellphones during games and not paying attention to what is happening on the field. A 79-year-old woman was killed by a foul ball in Dodger Stadium last year. A young girl was hospitalized last week after she was hit by a foul ball in Houston’s Minute Maid Park. I’m in favor of what they do in Japan where netting protects fans all the way to each foul pole. Modern netting is so good it hardly affects sight lines. If it saves one life, it’s worth it.

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