Ask Hal: Don’t bet on quick Reds turnaround

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: The Texas Rangers went from last place to first in one year, so why not the Cincinnati Reds? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: Yeah, why not? But don’t bet your pension on it. The Rangers play in a weak division. There are no St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs or Pittsburgh Pirates in the American League West. Before finishing last in 2014, the Rangers finished second in 2013, so the 2014 season probably was an anomaly. The Reds finished next-to-last in 2014 and last in 2015. For sure there is no way to go but up, but not up too far.

Q: Looking ahead to the off-season, I only see Band-Aid answers from Reds management. How can you just paint the house when it has fallen into the basement? — ART, Cincinnati.

A: How can you make a determination on what the Reds have done when they haven’t done it? We have to wait to see what they do or what they don’t do before we begin judgment. Yes, the house has fallen into the basement and it will take more than paint to fix it, but let’s see if GM Walt Jocketty can come up with some support beams and a strong roof.

Q: Who was the best all-around baseball player you have seen? — TODD, Tollesboro, Ky.

A: Contrary to popular belief, I never saw Ty Cobb or Babe Ruth or even Mickey Mantle. But over 43 years of covering baseball I was privileged to watch scores of great players. So, the pick is difficult. But even though I only saw him a few times due to his unfortunate early death in a plane crash on a mercy mission, I pick Roberto Clemente. There is nothing he couldn’t do on a baseball field and some things nobody else could do.

Q: Do you see any scenario in which the Reds would trade Todd Frazier? — DEL, Chicago.

A: Sure, I can see that happening. With the way the Reds have played the past couple of years there should be no untouchables. Frazier is an important piece for the Reds with his bat and leadership, but if they can improve by moving him then order up United Van Lines.

Q: What was your take on Tom Archdeacon’s piece in the Dayton Daily News on pitcher Dean Chance? — JEFF, Troy.

A: As everything Arch writes, it was outstanding. And it brought back unpleasant memories for me because I faced Chance in high school. During my senior year I struck out eight times all season and Chance got me four times in one game. And I never even fouled one off. My only consolation was that he made the majors and won a Cy Young and major-league hitters couldn’t hit him, either.

Q: What is your most memorable moment from “Ask Hal?” — MINDY, Kent.

A: Everywhere I go, every speaking engagement, one of the first questions always is, “Who is Dave from M/C/B and is he real or he is an alter ego.” He is real. Very real. I get three or four questions from him every week just to make certain he gets in. Because he is so loyal and because a lot of people resent that I bat him leadoff every week, I always include him (even with his sometimes silly questions) because people ask about him, meaning he draws attention to Ask Hal. As for my alter ego, I couldn’t make up some of the questions he asks.

Q: What coaching changes will lame duck manager Bryan Price make? — ELSMERE, Ky.

A: First of all, Price is not a lame duck. He’ll be flying high over the team next year. Secondly, he won’t make the coaching decisions. That falls in the lap of GM Walt Jocketty. And if they think firing a couple of coaches off this staff is going to bring them a championship next year, well, I have some baseball cards from the 1983 team that lost 101 games I’ll sell them real cheap.

Q: Do you think it is time to re-program the mind of Jay Bruce to revamp his overall hitting approach? — MARK, Centerville.

A: What do you suggest, a computer chip? There is no reset button on the mind. He has done it his way forever and changing his style would be like starting him over in Little League. If the Reds want 30 home runs and 90 RBI every year from Bruce they’ll have to live with the strikeouts.

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