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: How can fans be critical of Joey Votto drawing too many walks when other players are shameless for striking out? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.
A: Can you remember back long enough to your Little League days when your coach yelled, “A walk is as good as a hit?” And how many walks are too many walks? The object is to get on base and drawing walks is one way to do it. Votto also collects hits in abundance so fans who criticize him must be all those Cubs fans last weekend in Great American Ball Park. Strikeouts? They are now acceptable, with no shame, in today’s game. A strikeout is the new pop-up.
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Q: Joe Girardi is available to manage and wouldn’t he be a good fit for the Reds because he is used to winning? — ESTANZIANO, Dayton.
A: Girardi managed the Yankees from 2008 to 2017 and while he won a lot of games for The Evil Empire he won only one World Series (2008). While he probably will manage again, if he wants it, I don’t see him coming to the Reds. If the Orioles fire Buck Showalter I could see him going there. There probably will be several vacancies after this year from which Girardi could choose. My choice for the Reds is the guy wearing the ‘interim’ title right now, Jim Riggleman. He has a closet full of major league managerial experience and owns a great baseball mind. Young players respond to him and that’s what the Reds need. But the last time the Reds asked for my opinion was never.
Q: Do major league teams mow and trim the infield and outfield grass every day? — ALBERTA, Muncie, Ind.
A: It certainly looks like it, doesn’t it? If only my lawn looked so good. Actually, the Reds cut the grass in Great American Ball Park once every two or three days. With the way the Reds have been giving up hits lately they need to put ‘Keep Off the Grass’ signs in the outfield.
Q: The Baseball Writers Association of America added a rule in 1991 that players banned from the game are not eligible for the Hall of Fame, so why doesn’t the BBWAA put in a rule to ban players suspended 80 days for PED usage? — BILL, Tipp City.
A: The BBWAA doesn’t make any rules regarding the Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame makes the rules. All the BBWAA does is vote on eligible players and announce the inductees. But knowing how much the Hall of Fame wants to keep out the steroid and PED users it would not surprise me if they did implement that rule and eliminate all players detected using illegal substances. It works for me. As far as I’m concerned Robinson Cano punched his banned from The Hall ticket.
Q: Former Reds pitcher Fred Norman was famous for his screwball, but I don’t hear commentators mention the pitch, so is it no longer used or is it called something else? — TOM, Springfield.
A: Indeed, Norman threw his ‘screwgie,’ as did Mr. Perfect, Tom Browning, a pitch that broke the opposite way of a curve ball. But the pitch is extremely deadly to the elbow because a pitcher has to use reverse torque on his arm to throw the pitch. I’ll never forget the day in San Diego when Browning threw the screwball and howled in pain. You could hear it in the press box when his ligament snapped like a wire on a telephone pole popping. I asked several Reds pitchers and they all said they don’t know any pitcher who throws a screwball. Said Reds relief pitcher Jared Hughes, “The screwball was used as an off-speed pitch and most pitchers now use change-ups and split-fingers as their off-speed pitch.”
Q: Could you see a bad contract swap with the Reds sending pitcher Homer Bailey to Colorado for Ian Desmond, then flip Billy Hamilton to Seattle and Scooter Gennett to Washington for Triple-A pitching help? — MAILMAN, Dayton
A: If the Reds are going to trade for an Ian, it should be Ian Happ of the Cubs, who spent more time on the bases against the Reds last weekend than a stubborn kid sitting on the pot being toilet trained. But the Cubs won’t let him go. Why would the Reds want Desmond? He is hitting .175 and his contract over this year and the next four years is for $75 million. And Bailey is practically untradeable because he is making $21 million with $48 million more due in 2019 and 2020 and his arm has more stitches than a baseball from three surgeries. Colorado? Bailey is a fly ball pitcher and has trouble keeping the ball inside GABP. How do you think he would play in Coors Field? Hamilton is much better defensively than Desmond and much, much cheaper. He might be traded, but it won’t be part of a Desmond flip. Gennett is the most likely current Reds player to be soon wearing another uniform.
Q: Aroldis Chapman should have been a starter, Raisel Iglesias should be a starter and Amir Garrett should be a starter and is the Reds front office not smart enough to see that or are the players calling the shots? — RON, Vandalia.
A: That, of course, is your opinion. The Reds have a different opinion. Chapman was going to be a starter, but when after the Reds signed Ryan Madson to be their closer and he broke down during spring training, manager Dusty Baker pressed Chapman into duty. And because he was so successful at it, they kept him there. Now Chapman wants to stay a closer, as he is with the New York Yankees, and Iglesias, formerly a starter, loves what he is doing as a closer. Garrett wants to start, but is content for now in the bullpen. Hey, if you could get paid millions to pitch one inning three or four times a week, wouldn’t you take it? I would, but there is no demand for left handers who throw 46 miles an hour with no control or command.
Q: What’s with players on the same team wearing different colored shoes, some white, some red, some black and some looking like the rainbow and isn’t there a dress code? — MICHELLE, Louisville.
A: How times do change. In the days of the Big Red Machine President/GM Bob Howsam decreed that his Reds wear all black shoes and they were required to cover the Nike Swoosh and any other logos with black shoe polish. All black, nothing but black. Now MLB fines any player who wears all black shoes. They want those high-paying logos to show and they want players to wear multi-colored footwear. One of these days I expect a player to take the field wearing flip flops with spikes on the soles.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Q: Could the Reds actually trade their No. 1 draft pick for an established player to get some immediate help? — RICK P., Vandalia.
A: Actually, no. Unlike the NFL and the NBA, MLB does not permit teams to trade draft slots, which is why you’ve never heard of any team trading a No. 1 draft slot, or any other slot. And even if it were permitted, the Reds are not interested in ‘immediate help.’ Remember? They are in a rebuild and the biggest part of that rebuild is through the draft. Speaking of rebuild, the Reds are not in a rebuild. They are in a build. They are en route to finishing last for the fourth straight year, so what are they rebuilding? So instead of calling it a rebuild, let’s just refer to it as a build.