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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: You have mentioned numerous players that quit speaking to you because of something you wrote but has any player physically abused you? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.
A: The list isn’t that long for somebody who has covered baseball for 46 years. Joe Morgan, Dave Concepcion (just briefly), Dick Wagner (general manager), Jonny Gomes and Brandon Phillips all quit speaking to me.Pittsburgh pitcher Bruce Kison once threatened to wring my neck, but it was mistaken identity. He thought I was a writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer. No player has ever touched me and only once have I seen it happen to any writer. Former pitcher John Denny punched a Cincinnati Post writer and I broke up a pending fight between Cincinnati Post writer Earl Lawson and pitcher Mike LaCoss.
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Q: Who do you think will be the Reds five starting pitchers next year and do you think they will sign Matt Harvey? — NATHAN, Mason.
A: I don’t think the Reds even know the answer to this one. They have to be thinking about signing a free agent or trading for one or two. And it won’t be Harvey. His agent, Scott Boras, is adamant that they test free agency and somebody will dangle big bucks in front of him. And do you mean starting five or starting six? I doubt that they’ll go back to the six-man rotation. They don’t have six who should be in the rotation. Right now Anthony DeSclafani and perhaps Luis Castillo are solid candidates. And like it or not, with $23 million still owed to him next season, Homer Bailey is probably in the mix. The last two spots? How is your slider these days?
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Q: What do you notice about pitcher Cody Reed now that is different from when he struggled in his previous time with the Reds? — KEITH, Brookville.
A: His current showing is a very small sample so we’ll have to wait to see if it sticks. I do notice he has a better mound presence, meaning he acts as if he belongs out there. He appears to have more confidence and smoother mechanics. Sometimes young pitchers think they have to throw the ball through the old Iron Curtain to get major league hitters out when it is more important to have location, location, location and change of speeds. Maybe he has finally figured that out.
Q: Would it be feasible for the Reds to try Homer Bailey as a closer because Bailey has nothing to lose and at this juncture the Reds have nothing to lose? — STOCC, Miamisburg.
A: There are two major problems. One — What do you do with Raisel Iglesias, the current closer and an effective closer? Two — Bailey’s major problems seem to be in the first inning and as a closer he would only come in for one inning and that could be disastrous. Bailey isn’t amenable to bullpen work, but he shouldn’t be the one to make that decision. The Bailey Dilemma is a major problem, one that seems insolvable until they just pay him the $23 million they owe him next season and a $5 million buyout for 2020 and say good-bye.
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Q: What is your favorite sports memorabilia you keep in your man cave? — GREG, Beavercreek.
A: I don’t keep memorabilia in the man cave, just a lot of posters and baseball pictures and plaques with sayings. My favorite piece of memorabilia is the baseball Ken Griffey Jr. hit for his 532nd career home run. It was his 30th home run of the season and he gave me the ball because he had only one home run in April and I wrote, “If Griffey stays healthy this year and doesn’t hit 30 home runs, I’ll eat this column on Courthouse Square.” He hit his 30th in late August in Washington, signed the ball, and gave it to me. How cool is that?
Q: Billy Hamilton and other base stealers are using oven mitts, which are longer than their hands so I’m wondering if that added length doesn’t give them an advantage sliding into a base? — BD, Hamilton.
A: I once asked Hamilton if he had a hot casserole waiting for him on the second base bag, but he didn’t laugh. I’ve been waiting for them to be outlawed because it does appear it gives the wearer an extra inch or two to reach for the bag. Next thing you know they’ll be carrying five-foot arm extensions to reach for the bag. Hey, it isn’t forbidden in the rulebook. They have a rule for the length on the fingers of a fielder’s glove. To me they should only be able to use the skin-tight batting gloves.
Q: In baseball box scores a line shows the breakdown of groundouts and flyouts for pitchers, but the total never equals the innings pitches, so why is that? — MARC, Dayton.
A: To me that is just another in the long, long line of nebulous baseball statistics. A bullet line drive right at an outfielder is listed as a fly ball, same as a lazy pop-up to the shortstop. Does that make sense? Who cares if a pitcher gets an out on a ground ball or a fly ball? An out is an out but to answer your question, if you add in a pitcher’s strikeouts, outs that are not accounted for in the groundout-flyout statistic, things should add up.
Q: It appears that Billy Hamilton, Scott Schebler and Jesse Winker go to spring training as the outfield favorites, but the Reds have a surplus of outfielders with Phillip Ervin, Mason Williams, Preston Tucker, Taylor Trammell in the minors and talk of Nick Senzel and even Scooter Gennett in the outfield, so are some of these players trade chips for pitching? — RON, Vandalia.
A: First of all, don’t know where you heard that Gennett may go to the outfield, but that isn’t happening. And Senzel to the outfield is another stretch. If owner Bob Castellini relents from his stance, they could trade Billy Hamilton and get something decent. Ervin might draw interest, too, but the Reds probably want to keep him. All those outfielders do give the Reds flexibility to make a trade for much-needed starting pitching.
Q: Why do pitchers think they have to throw beanballs at batters who hit home runs? — ROD, Columbus.
A: That usually only happens when the batter ‘celebrates’ too much with a high bat flip and a long, slow trot around the bases and maybe a stare down at the pitcher. It is all so childish. When a batter strikes out and the pitcher celebrates, should he throw his bat at the pitcher? Mostly, though, when a pitcher hits a batter and the other team deems it on purpose, then the macho thing to do is to have your pitcher throw at their star player. It is all so ludicrous and ask Joey Votto how that all turns out.