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 52 Ohio and national writing awards and was the first non-Cincinnati newsperson elected to the Cincinnati Journalists Hall of Fame. He also was inducted into the National Sports Media Association Hall of Fame and the Irish-American Baseball Hall of Fame. He has a stone on Dayton's Walk of Fame and the press box at Dayton's Howell Field is named the Hal McCoy Press Box. 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 Englewood, Ohio, McCoy is an honors graduate in journalism from Kent State University.

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Call me old school, but I still want to see the take-out slide at second, collisions at home plate, umpiring without replay, and a little head-hunting only adds passion to the game.  They’ve tinkered with the game too much…and they’ve tinkered with the wrong things!

 Dayton – They are “wussifying” The National Pastime. In the name of perceived safety and at the expense of high entertainment, they are turning The Grand Ol’ Game of baseball into a leisurely game of euchre.

For more than 100 years the game was the same — slide hard into second base and do anything you can to destroy a double play and block the plate to make the onrushing spiked pedestrian run over you or knock you buttocks-over-grocery cart to score a run.

And the rules changes are, as always, reactionary.

First, the Buster Posey Rule. That’s the rule that now prevents catchers from blocking home plate. Nothing was said and nothing was done in the history of the game about this until superstar San Francisco catcher Buster Posey was knocked out for the season after a home plate crash.

How many thousands and thousands of home plate collisions were there, with no injuries, before the Posey incident. OK, there was the Pete Rose-Ray Fosse smash-up in the 1970 All-Star game. And were here howls of protest then to “Ban the Block”? No, there weren’t.

Fearsome...During his heyday as the Cardinals' ace Bob Gibson was fearless to come up and in on opposing hitters.  It's the only threat left in baseball.

Fearsome…During his heyday as the Cardinals’ ace Bob Gibson was fearless to come up and in on opposing hitters. It’s the only threat left in baseball.

What is so absurd about this rule is that it is to protect the so-called defenseless catcher. Defenseless? A catcher wears more protective accoutrements than Sir Lancelot in his suit of armor.

And how about the no takeout rule at second base? Even more than collision plays at home plate, the takeout slide at second base was almost a daily happenstance in a major league baseball game.

Not once in my 43 years of covering baseball did I ever hear a shortstop or a second baseman say that the hard slide into them should be banished from the game.

Then last year Chase Utley slid hard and late and wide of the bag into Ruben Tejada at second base and Tejada suffered a broken leg. The slide was within the rules, the way it has been done since Tony LaRussa invented the game.

But they changed the rule. No more takeout slides. The slide must be direct to the bag and not late. What I see now are guys sliding 20 feet before they get to the bag to avoid contact and some guys don’t even slide. They just turn right to get out of the way of the relay throw.

When Cincinnati Reds second baseman Ron Oester suffered a torn Achilles tendon when Mookie Wilson slid hard into him and Oester’s spikes caught when he tried to avoid Wilson, he missed a year. Not once did he say the rules should be changed so runners can’t slide hard into him. In fact, the hard-playing Oester slid the same way.

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So they’ve taken two high-energy plays out of the game because of a couple of incidents that were as rare your Uncle Andy picking up a check.

And while we’re at it, let’s talk about the reviews they’ve instituted into games, taking the human element out of umpiring.

It is out of hand. There have been several games where there have been game-delaying reviews twice in an inning. How exciting is it to watch an umpire standing on the sidelines with earphones on his head waiting for them to review the tapes in New York. So far this year baseball has done more reviews than Siskel & Ebert.

So more entertainment value is gone. How much fun was it to watch managers argue with umpires? How much fun was it watching Reds manager Lou Piniella throw first base into right field during an argument with umpire Dutch Rennert? How much fun was it watching Earl Weaver turn his hat around so the bill wouldn’t bump an umpire while Weaver got into the umpire’s face? How much fun was it watching Billy Martin throw his hat and stomp on it and then kick dirt on home plate.

That’s gone. No more arguments over calls. And once the folks in New York make their decision a manager cannot argue about the decision. If he does he is immediately ejected.

It is all so much Tom Foolery. Yes, I am old school, so old school about baseball that it is one-room schoolhouse old school.

They keep tinkering with the game and they tinker with the wrong things.

Other than the game itself, which remains entertaining despite baseball’s worst efforts to sanitize it, they haven’t yet legislated out a player charging the mound after getting hit by a pitch or having his control tower buzzed with a high hard one.

That’s one thing they can control. They can’t control emotions. If a player decides to charge the mound because he is angry, nobody is going to stop him.

Hal_thumb0607Who can blame Baltimore’s Manny Machado for attacking Kansas City pitcher Yordano Ventura, a card-carrying head-hunter. When he hit Machado with a pitch, Machado did the right thing. He went after Ventura, inciting a brawl.

And what else can a player do in the American League? The stupid designated hitter rule makes it impossible for a Baltimore pitcher to retaliate against Ventura because Ventura never bats. It gives Ventura license to throw a lethal weapon at opposing hitters.

So, yes, take me out to the brawlgame. And let us see a catcher block the plate, if he is brave enough and so desires. And let runners try to break up double plays, as long as they aren’t carrying a bat.

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