Hal McCoy
Hal McCoy

Hal McCoy is a former beat writer for the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio), covering the Cincinnati Reds baseball team. He was honored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002 as the winner of the J. G. Taylor Spink Award, which is awarded annually "for meritorious contributions to baseball writing." He has won 43 Ohio and national writing awards and was the first non-Cincinnati newsperson elected to the Cincinnati Journalists Hall of Fame. McCoy has been the Cincinnati BBWAA Chapter Chair 22 times and was the BBWAA national president in 1997. He is the third writer from the Dayton Daily News to win the J. G. Taylor Spink Award, joining Si Burick (1982) and Ritter Collett (1991). Residing in Clayton, Ohio, McCoy is an honors graduate in journalism from Kent State University.

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“Beware the Ides of March”, Shakespeare wrote, and we counter that with, “Send your furious, fractious froth” to Hal McCoy pertaining to that which has flummuxed you for years, and not just about the Reds and baseball.  He promises to answer…sort of!

Who could be luckier than a Press Pros reader who’s got a serious case of baseball goo-goo.  Because, we’re taking questions for the eighth year in a row for hall of famer Hal McCoy…and not just those ‘snowflake’ queries from the ‘bourgeoisie’.  If you want to know more about that curious mess called MLB, he promises to wax eloquent on all issues of baseball.  Beginning with…..

From Dave in Miamisburg, Centerville, and any diner desperate for promotion:  Hal, if a pitcher enters the 10th inning with a perfect game and, with the new rule a runner is placed at 2nd base, has the perfect game gone bye-bye?

DAVE THE DINER: I’m not sure even the Honorable Rob Manfred has thought this one through as he tinkers and manipulates baseball’s rules. First of all, it’s a real reach for you to believe any modern-day pitcher will last 10 innings in a game. If he does his agent will howl that the team is going to ruin his arm. I’m not sure the box score will show how the runner placed on second base to start the inning got there. So I would assume the game is still perfect, as far as records go. And if the pitcher then permits a walk or a hit then, for sure, his perfecto is gone.  And if he pitches a 1-2-3 10th inning and his team doesn’t score, if he pitches the 11th he once again will start the inning with a runner on second. Most fortunate of all is that this rule has not been implemented in the majors and let’s hope it goes away like the pterodactyl.

From Jack in Delaware:  One of the reasons I read Press Pros is for their coverage of Ohio State baseball, and I wondered if you, too, might not be a fan of the college game, it’s character and personality, over the over-priced s#&* show that major league baseball is becoming?  Thanks for taking my question.

JACK: Man, you don’t mince words and there is no doubt where you squat on this subject. As a matter of fact, I do like college baseball (and high school baseball), not so much for character and personality, but for the pureness. Yes, most of the college players are on partial scholarships, but there is still vast evidence of their love for the game — the long practices on off days, the long bus trips with box lunches, the willingness to do their best on bad, lumpy fields in front of close friends and relatives and not many others. I love baseball to the core and still like watching major league games, but these days it is more with a jaundiced eye and with a wonder of why these multi-millionaire players feel total entitlement. And how can anybody spend $450 million in one lifetime? But we’d both like to be in Mike Trout’s shoes.

From Bryant in Columbus:  Hal, I would like to know why there’s such a need to make the game of baseball faster.  And second, what are we supposed to do with that extra free time when it’s over?

BRYANT: Like you, I have no dog in the hunt when it comes to length of games. In baseball, the length of game is always the same — nine innings, unless it goes extra innings. How long it takes to play those nine innings is immaterial to me and it should be immaterial to any real baseball fan. So what if a game goes three hours instead of 2 or 2 1/2 hours. And the methods the commish keeps trying to impose on the game just don’t work. He and his minions dabble with stuff like keeping the hitter in the batter’s box and a pitching time clock and all they do is slice, maybe, five minutes off the time of game. Meanwhile, they have inserted replay-review that they take long lengths of time to render a decision and often they still get it wrong. With the cost of tickets these days fans should want the games to go longer so they get their money’s worth.

ML Dunn has moved. Check out their new location on West National Road in Englewood.

From Joe B in Siesta Key:  I’ve waited all winter for this, so I hope you don’t disappoint.  I went to see the Orioles play last week with their new cast and they will lose a hundred games again this year.  I also kept track of the Reds and all their ties in Arizona for lack of pitching or competitive candidates.  My question for you is…if they played the Reds exclusively in a two-team division would one of them finish first?  Good to hear from you, my friend.

JOE: Please sift some of that Siesta Key sugar-sand through your fingers for me. I miss it immensely. If the Orioles and Reds played in a two-team division they’d have to cancel the season for a lack of interest. It would, though, be a close race with one team going 82-80 and the other 80-82. And both teams would celebrate because they’d win more games than they will this season, by a long shot. That’s not a bad idea, though. How about 15 two-team divisions?  They could make divisions of Yankees-Mets and Astros-Rangers and A’s-Giants and Cubs-White Sox and Rays-Marlins and Phillies-Pirates and Indians-Reds and Nationals-Orioles. Catch the drift? Divisions by geography and it would nearly eliminate travel expenses. Don’t let Rob Manfred see this or it will become reality.

Joe from Urbana:  There was a lot of noise made when the Reds hired Derek Johnson to replace Ted Power as pitching coach last fall. Why, and how can he possibly make a difference with Robert Stephenson, Brandon Finnegan, Jared Hughes and Cody Reed?  And what did they do with Power?

JOE: In case you haven’t noticed, Derek Johnson did not make a difference this spring with Stephenson, Finnegan or Reed. All three were sent to the minors. And what’s wrong with Jared Hughes. He did the job in the bullpen last year and there is no reason to believe he won’t do it this year, too. I thought for years that Ted Power should be the Reds pitching coach as he toiled in their minor league system and all the pitchers loved him. He was never the pitching coach for the Reds. First he was a bullpen coach and then he was assistant pitching coach. As far as I know right now he is unemployed, which is a shame. It remains to be seen how Derek Johnson performs with this year’s pitching staff. He says he likes to permit pitchers to be themselves and with the Reds pitching staff, being themselves hasn’t worked out so well.

Jeff Moore from Indy:  Can you explain to me how Homer Bailey was traded to the Dodgers, who dumped him, but yet he’s now the Royals’ fifth starter throwing 95 miles per hour?

Former #1 pick Homer Bailey is poised to embarrass the Reds this year as a starting pitcher for the Kansas City Royals.

JEFF: Homer Bailey was throwing 95 miles an hour at the end of last season. Throwing 95 isn’t all there is to pitching. In Homer’s case, I truly believe the Reds gave up on him too soon. He was still coming back from three serious surgeries in two years and it takes time. But Bailey became the poster boy for why the Reds were awful to most fans and the team had to get rid of him for PR purposes, if nothing else. A Kansas City scout watched Bailey pitch a couple of games late last season and was impressed with what he saw. With a young pitching staff, the Royals wanted a veteran presence and that scout begged GM Dayton Moore to sign Bailey. Why not? The Royals only have to pay him the major league minimum and the Dodgers are on the hook for the rest of the $23 million he’ll make this year. I happen to really like Homer Bailey and I hope he wins 20 games. And with the Reds’ luck that’s exactly what might happen.

Pete from Columbus:  Hal, I met you in January at the baseball fundraiser in Versailles, Ohio, and wondered if Craig Stammen, who hosted that event, was playing this spring, and how he’s doing?

PETE: Craig Stammen has a secret desire to pitch for the Reds and the Reds had an opportunity to sign him a couple of years ago and gave him a private workout. They weren’t interested and that’s a shame. He had a good year last season and is still with the San Diego Padres and says his arm feels better than it has in many years.  And at $2.25 million this year he is one hell of a bargain as pitchers’ salaries go these days. For a very ordinary Padres team last year he appeared in 73 games and was 8-and-3 with a 2.73 earned run average. There weren’t many relief pitchers in the majors with numbers any better than that and most of them made a couple of Brinks trucks full of cash more than what the Friars paid Stammen.

From David Waller:  Hal, my grandson and I went to Arizona to see spring training baseball and we ran into Rick Sweet, the old Triple A manager for the Reds. He was wonderful to talk to and I wondered if you had any good Rick Sweet stories?

DAVID: The man’s last name says it all. He is one sweet guy, one of the nicest men you’ll ever meet. I saw a lot him the years I covered spring training and he was always the nicest, most accommodating guy you’ll ever meet. I have no specific stories about him. But I always told him, “You should have been managing in the majors a long time ago. He would smile and say, “To get a job in the majors as manager you have to have a godfather, a guru standing behind you, and I never had that.” He was another baseball lifer who never got the break he needed to give him a chance at the highest level.”

Note:  If you have a question for Hal McCoy send them to Sonny@pressprosmagazine.com (do not use the current ‘contact’ link) and we’ll get them to Hal as soon as possible.

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