A: The Matt Harvey Mystery continues. What is he doing with the Reds? Obviously the Reds thought they would get more for him at the non-waiver trade deadline than other teams offered. So they kept him for now. He still can be traded in August by passing through waivers, but unless he pitches a lot better that, too, is questionable. In the meantime, he and Homer Bailey continue to take up spots in the rotation that could be better used by young pitchers. No, Harvey isn’t part of the Reds’ future. His agent, Scott Boras, says they’ll test free agency after the season and the Reds risk getting nothing for him.
»MCCOY: Is this the year Billy Hamilton wins a Gold Glove?
Q: What happened to those large shield-like pillow chest protectors that umpires once used that seem to give better protection than what umpire wear now? — GREG, Beavercreek.
A: Believe it or not, one can still purchase those big balloon chest protectors online for $40. They are bulky and limit movement. The National League first went to the under-the-shirt protectors. The American League stayed with the balloon. But they soon discovered that the balloons forced umpire to stand more upright and they called higher strikes and didn’t call low strikes. National League umpires were unrestricted and called a better strike zone. So in 1977 Major League Baseball mandated that all umpires wear the under-the-shirt protectors. And former National League umpire Randy Marsh says the new protectors provide more safety than the old inner tubes.
Q: Are players getting soft because I thought the Reds dugout should have emptied in a show of force after Washington's Ryan Madson hit Joey Votto on the knee with a pitch? — MIKE, Urbana.
A: Dugouts don’t normally empty when a player is hit by a pitch unless the batter charges the mound. Then there is a stampede toward the mound by everybody, including the bullpens. Usually not much happens but finger-pointing and guys holding each other back. Votto did not charge Madson. He just hurled a few epithets at him and Madson ignored him. And players are not getting soft. There usually are two or three good brawls per season, but they never last long and they result in a few suspensions, which players don’t like to receive so they try to be peacemakers.
Q: Do you agree that former Reds general manager Dick Wagner dismantled the team because he wanted to build his own team even though the BRM still was capable of winning? — DAN, Cory, Pa.
A: No, I don’t agree on this one. Free agency had arrived and the Reds were not signing free agents. But Don Gullett, Joe Morgan, Pete Rose and Ken Griffey Sr. all left on their own via free agency and that is what dismantled The Big Red Machine. However, Wagner did not do much to replace those parts and by 1982 the Reds lost 101 games and he was fired in 1983. Wagner, a somewhat tyrannical executive, did not speak to me the last two years he was with the Reds after I criticized him for trading Ray Knight to the Houston Astros for Cesar Cedeno.
Q: I watched the PBS American Masters feature on Ted Williams and wondered if you ever met him and do you think anybody will ever again hit .400? — KOZ, Springfield.
A: As a kid I despised Ted Williams for what he did to my Cleveland Indians, but he was my favorite non-Indians player and I tried to emulate him when I played Little League. That was laughable. Unfortunately, I never met him. He last managed the Texas Rangers in 1972 and I began covering baseball in 1973. It was my great loss. And, no, there won’t be any .400 hitter. Today’s game is strikeout/home run and nobody seems to care about batting averages. It is all about launch angles and exit velocity. If you hit .270 these days you are considered a good hitter. In Ted’s time, that might get you demoted to the minors with a quick exit velocity.
Q: What would you think of Corky Miller managing in Louisville next year? — DAVE, Northridge.
A: I would think it is an excellent idea. Corky Miller, nothing more than a light-hitting back-up catcher, was always a fan favorite and one of the most loved teammates I ever saw with the Reds. He knows the game inside-out, is a down-to-earth country boy with a wonderful personality. And we all know that catchers seem to make great managers — Bruce Bochy, Jim Leyland, Tony La Russa, Bob Brenly, Yogi Berra, Joe Torre, Joe Maddon, Joe Girardi, A.J. Hinch — the list is endless.
Q: Forty years ago, I was with Gordy Coleman of the Reds and I told him how awful it was that the Reds traded my favorite player, Johnny Temple. When he got up to speak, the first thing he said was that he came to the Reds in a trade for Johnny Temple and I wanted to crawl under the table. Have you ever said something that later embarrassed you? — PAUL, Dayton.
A: Too many times to count. In 1984 I was in the press box in St. Louis late in the season when I discovered the manager Vern Rapp was fired. I saw Rapp on the field, standing at the batting cage, so I hurried down there and said, “I’m sorry to hear you’ve been fired.” He hadn’t heard it yet, so I was the bearer of the bad news. He said, “What?” Then he hustled into the clubhouse and called a meeting and I stood red-faced at the batting cage embarrassed that I told a man he no longer had a job.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Q: What are your thoughts on the minor league rule that if a game goes into extra innings, they start every inning with a runner on second and no outs? — TIM, Xenia.
A: It is just another absurd gimmick that isn’t real baseball. Thank goodness commissioner Rob Manfred said it won’t ever be used in the majors. Consider what happened last week in a Class A Florida State League game. A Clearwater pitcher threw seven perfect innings, no hits, no walks, in a seven-inning game against Tampa. But it was 0-0 so they started the eighth with a Tampa runner on second base. He moved to third on an error and scored on a ground ball and Clearwater lost, 1-0. Is that not the height of baseball absurdity?