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: Does Mick Jagger receive royalties every time the Rolling Stones’ hit song, ‘Paint It Black,’ is played as Joey Votto’s walk-up song?
A: No, because Votto no longer uses that song. He now approaches home plate to the sounds of the Isley Brothers, ‘Work To Do.’ And, yes, he has work to do. I always wondered why he used ‘Paint It Black,’ because pitchers always try to paint the black, which is the outside edges of home plate, a difficult pitch to hit. I thought he should use Diamond Rio’s song, ‘Meet In The Middle.‘
Q: Assuming the season is complete, would it mean less to win the World Series? — JAMES, Huber Heights.
A: To me, yes. While the World Series will still be best of seven, making it legitimate, playing 102 less regular-season games puts a question mark on how teams got there. An asterisk will be needed. Maybe they’ll make the World Series trophy smaller this year with the inscription, “Short Season World Series Champions.”
Q: With the Cincinnati Reds using piped-in crowd noise, will they include the ‘woooooooooooooo?’ — SEAN, Fort Thomas, Ky.
A: Those ear-assaulting screams draw complaints from fans and the Reds have tried to stop it. Now they can. And they will. I have one last comment about that: ‘woooooooooooooo.'
Q: Was there a time when a team used a pop-up basket behind home plate to deliver new baseballs to the umpire? — JOHN, Montgomery.
A: That sounds like something Bill Veeck might have done, but it actually was done by Charlie Finley, another eccentric owner. In 1968, the A’s first year in Oakland, Finley installed a pop-up device. It was a statue named Harvey the Rabbit and it had a basket of baseballs on its head. It popped up behind the umpire containing new baseballs for the umpire to grab. It was discontinued after the 1971 season. Finley also wanted to use orange baseballs for better visibility, but he was turned down. He had a donkey named Charlie O. grazing behind the fence in center field. Sometimes he brought the donkey into the press dining room, where he attacked the buffet.
Q: Everybody comments on the designated hitter coming to the National League, but what do you think about the rule that relief pitchers must face three batters? — JERRY, Lebanon.
A: You are correct — much teeth-gnashing on he DH, but silence on the three-batter rule. As I do with the DH, I believe it stinks. I keep saying, “Leave the game alone,” but they don’t. I fail to see any value in this rule. MLB believes it will save time because every pitcher gets eight warm-up pitches and the constant parade from the bullpen eats time. How about having the relief pitchers get all their warm-up pitches completed in the bullpen with no warm-up pitches on the game mound? Pitchers who sit in the dugout between innings can start the inning with eight warm-ups during commercials, but that’s it. Now it is me not leaving the game alone.
Q: With a 60-game season making each win at a premium, do you see fundamental baseball with bunting and advancing runners coming back as part of a manager’s strategies? — DAVE, Hattiesburg, Miss.
A: Don’t I wish. But, no. Analytics are entrenched, so it doesn’t matter how long or how short a season might be. The numbers crunchers have control of the game and believe home runs with launch angle and exit velocity win games. Bunting, hit-and-runs, sacrifices and stolen bases are not on their charts.
Q: If the runner placed on second base to start an extra-inning game, will the pitcher be charged with an earned run and a loss? — RICK, Vandalia.
A: That’s another head-scratcher from MLB. No, if that runner scores, the pitcher will not be charged with an earned run. And he will not be charged with a loss. I guess there will be a category called ‘Team Loss.’ The runner will be the batter who made the last out the previous inning, but a pinch-runner can be used. Not sure if he gets credit for a run scored if he scores. It is all so convoluted.
Q: Who makes out the schedule and is a 60-game schedule easier to figure out than a full-season schedule? — RALPH, Key West, Fla.
A: From 1981 through 2004, Henry and Holly Stephenson, a married couple, made the MLB schedule and did it manually on their dining room table, no computers. The task is now handled by Sports Scheduling LLC in Butler, Pa., with computers involved. Under the 60-game format, teams are playing 40 games within their division and 20 games against the same divsion from the other league (NL Central versus AL Central). That has to be a much easier task than figuring out a 162-game schedule involving 30 teams. Did the Toronto Blue Jays check out facilities in Key West?
QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Q: Why did the Reds send down Aristides Aquino and will this affect his psyche and hinder his development? — JIMMY, Cincinnati.
A: Several reasons, not the least being his awful strikeout-strewn September last season. Also because the team added outfielders Shogo Akiyama and Nick Castellanos. Nick Senzel is going nowhere but up. Phillip Ervin and Jesse Winker are out of options. Aquino has options, making him the odd man out. However, he is on the 40-man roster and can be called up on a moment’s notice. It should not affect his mental well-being and he can develop while not with the big team by getting special attention.
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