Great lyric from the Beatles hit Eleanor Rigby: Where do they all come from? We mean your questions for hall of famer Hal McCoy, of course, and answers straight from the institution (Hall of Fame, that is).
From Dave in Beavercreek: How about you and I make a movie called The Blind Side II where we exploit the many conspiracies within major league baseball in a three -hour thriller?
DAVE: Are you making fun of my diminished eye-sight? So go ahead and laugh if you see me talking to a Coke machine. If we are going to consider conspiracies in major league baseball then we have to find a grassy knoll to discuss it. To me it wouldn’t be a movie, it would be a two-minute documentary in which I would stand in front of the camera and say, “There are no conspiracies in major league baseball, despite some of the nut jobs who think there is.”
From Joe B: Hal, I have a weighty question for you. Bill Cunningham continually refers to Reds reliever Jonathan Broxton as being “morbidly obese”, that he’s 100 pounds overweight, and says if he was in better shape he’d be more effective and not have a sore arm. What’s the “skinny” on Big Jon and his waistline?
JOE: Bill Cunningham also calls him a meatball, but only on the air and not to his face. The next time I see Willie in the Reds’ clubhouse will be the first time — and probably the last after Broxton turned him into hamburger without the spaghetti sauce. Is Broxton big? You betcha. Did it contribute to his sore arm? Hey, Don Gullett developed a sore aerm and when he pitched you couldn’t find an ounce of fat on his body with a microscope and Jenny Craig.
From Donald in Portsmouth: Hal, Press Pros gave a lot of coverage to the Wheelersburg Pirates down here while they were at the state tournament and I wondered if you happened to be at those games and what you thought of the state champions…two years in a row now?
DONALD: Caps off to Wheelersburg, which obviously is getting strong vibes from former Reds scouting great Gene Bennett, who lives in Wheelersburg. No, I wasn’t there, but our esteemed site manager Sonny Fulks was. I was too busy watching some team in Cincinnati, which on some days plays like a high school team, but not was good as Wheelersburg.
From Bart in Columbus: Hi Hal. First time writer to Press Pros, and I enjoy your work a lot. My question is about Joe Nuxhall. I’ve always heard that he had a tremendous fastball, that he was a very good pitcher, and he played for 16 seasons with the Reds. And yet, for most of those years he was about a .500 pitcher. My question is…how good was Joe? Your opinion, please.
FIRST-TIMER: Joe Nuxhall was, indeed, a below .500 pitcher, but that wasn’t his fault. Check the team’s records in the years he pitched. Not too good most of the time. A pitcher can only give it his best and most of the rest is out of his control — runs scored for him, defense. Nuxy, indeed, had a great fastball and good stuff. He was a bit wild at times, but all of us left-handers are wild and crazy people.
From Gerry Jerrells: Everyone said before the season that the Reds were the most talented team in the National League (maybe you did, too), but they can’t beat the Cardinals. Does this mean that management, including Dusty Baker, is not as good as the Cardinals’ management, given the Reds have all that talent?
GERRY: I don’t think EVERYONE said that. Take a poll in St. Louis or Washington (and what’s wrong with the Nats?). And I know I didn’t say it. I thought the Reds would win the division, and they still might, but I never said they had the most talent in baseball. Obviously, the Cardinals have a minor-league system heavily populated with top talent, more than the Reds. That has enabled them to plug in better players when they have injuries than the Reds are able to do. Check back with me in September. Remember the huge St. Louis collapse last September? Could happen again. Or maybe not.
From Tim in Troy: Please tell me what’s happened to Sean Marshall this spring, and how he got hurt? And in your opinion will we ever see Nick Massett again?
TIM: What happened to Sean Marshall is what happens to a lot of pitchers. Sore arms. Happens to everybody but the bionic man, Bronson Arroyo. Pitching is such an unnatural motion to the body that few pitchers escape aches and pains. And that’s what happened to Marshall. He’ll soon be back. Masset? No so sure. His injury is the same that forced Johan Santana into retirement. We won’t see Massett this year but we’ll search for him on the back fields of Goodyear, Ariz. next spring.
From Mike in Sidney: Hal, Ryan Hanigan is batting .200. Devin Mesoraco is hitting .230. And while both are better-than-average defensive catchers, I have to wonder if the Reds can win with such pathetic offensive output from that position. I’m comparing, of course, to the catcher in St. Louis, who’s hitting 100 points higher. Is there a prospect in the minors that they’re grooming as a big league catcher who can hit?
MIKE: Comparing catchers to Yadier Molina these days is like comparing catchers to Johnny Bench in the 1970s. It just ain’t fair. Those guys are special and are above and beyond. Hanigan is in the lineup to handle pitchers and throw out runners, which he does magnificently. Any hitting from him is a bonus. Mesoraco is young and learning and at least check was hitting .245, not .230. He is the catcher of the future in Cincinnati and there is nobody in the minors (as of now) who will unseat him.
From Jack in Springfield: Hal, I’ve read where you claim to be a life-long Cleveland Browns fan. Have you ever considered or regretted all that wasted time and emotional investment, or how you could have had more fulfilling years as a member of the Peace Corps?
BENGALS FAN: I know only a Bengals fan would ask that question and I say, “What have the Ben-gals ever won?” Oh, yeah. Two Super Bowls, and lost both. More losing seasons than the Chicago Cubs in the same time span. I’m a true fan, not a front-runner. I’m brown and orange forever. Put me in the Dog Pound and hand me a bone. Maybe I should have joined the Peace Corps. For sure I wouldn’t have seen any Bengals there. You can’t have a police record, can you? So there.
From Adam in Piqua: Hal, when my brother and I were growing up our favorite Reds’ players were Chris Sabo and Bo Diaz. You have any particular thoughts or memories of those two?
ADAM: I could fill three sports section with stories about those two characters. Sabo always played the Michigan fight song, Hail to the Victors, in the clubhouse on Sunday mornings, which drove the other players nuts. He had this old Ford Fiesta with 200,000 miles on it and when the players chided him about it, he would say, “It’s a great car, why would I get another one.” Paul O’Neill came into the clubhouse one day carrying one of those old car antennae and said, “I rode to the park with Sabo and I had to hold this out the window to listen to the radio.” Diaz did not like writers and wouldn’t take to them. But for some reason I gained a rapport with him and he would talk to me as long as no other writers were around. I was in a pizza parlor in Philadelphia one day and he saw me and paid for my pizza. To this day none of the other writers believe that story, but Diaz and I had matching sauce stains on our shirts that day to prove it.