A: Normally I steer clear of politics. But this is a good question. MLB’s move cost local businesses in Atlanta millions of dollars for something those businesses didn’t do. MLB should stay out of politics, too. Would they dare take away Atlanta’s home games? Probably not, but with commissioner Rob Manfred, who knows for sure?
Q: Did The Big Red Machine have the highest payroll? — BRAD, Connersville, Ind.
A: Hold on to your batting helmet for this one. In 1977, the average entire payroll for MLB teams was around $1.75 million. After winning back-to-back World Series in 1975-76, the Reds had the third highest payroll in 1977 at $2.75 million. The Philadelphia Phillies, whom the Reds swept in the 1976 NLCS, had the highest at $3.5 million. Second was, of course, the New York Yankees, whom the Reds swept in the 1976 World Series, at $3.4 million. Fast forward to 2021 and 13 Cincinnati Reds were paid more money individually than the entire 1977 payroll.
Q: Do you think having two more years of David Bell will propel the Reds to any kind of a championship? — KEVIN, Clearwater, Fla.
A: Managers take too much blame when most of it should land on the shoulders of the players and the backs of the front office. Bell doesn’t hit, field or pitch. And he doesn’t put together the team. He works with what he is given. And say what you want about him, he got them over .500 two years in a row, a major step up for this franchise, and despite a seriously flawed bullpen nearly got them into the playoffs. And I do think, with the right help from the front office, Bell can win.
Q: Big market teams don’t want to share revenue, but is there any way to put teams on an even keel? — RICHARD, Bloomington, Ind.
A: It’s all about television revenue. The NFL does it right. No teams have their own deals and they all share equally in the national TV money. Not so in baseball. Each team has its own deal and it is total inequality. It goes from the $239 million the Dodgers rake in from TV to the $20 million the Marlins make. The Reds are far down the list at $48 million. There are six teams that make more than $100 million from TV — Dodgers, Angels, White Sox, Yankees, Red Sox and Cubs. Do you spot a success trend with those teams? TV money pretty much pays for their payrolls. And you are right. Big-market teams refuse to share the wealth.
Q: Do you have any ideas on why Joey Votto has an excellent second half of a season after a mediocre first half so often? — DENNIS, Huber Heights.
A: If I knew, I’d tell Votto and he might give me a million dollars. Well, probably not. But that is correct. He nearly always starts at a snail’s pace and finishes like a rabbit. He knows it, too, but doesn’t know why. Sometimes things like that get in your head and it is a mental thing. And we all know Votto is baseball’s version of a deep thinker. Maybe he should take Tony Perez’s advice when he always said, “See the ball, hit the ball.”
Q: I miss hearing, ‘And this one belongs to the Reds,’ and I wonder why I don’t hear it anymore and is it because Marty Brennaman has a copyright on it? — JERRY, Troy.
A: It is a phrase Brennaman coined and used. He does not have a copyright, but out of respect the other broadcasters do not use it. It was like Joe Nuxhall’s, ‘And this is the ol’ left hander, rounding third and heading for home.’ You might miss Marty’s call, and many do, but you won’t hear it again. Other broadcasters need to come up with their own catch phrases.
Q: Should batter’s interference be called when those skinny-handled bats shatter and spray the infield, inhibiting a fielder’s chance to make a play? — GREG, Beavercreek.
A: That’s a rare occurrence. Usually, fielders avoid the flying splinters and make the play. Maybe the bat manufacturer should be charged with making inferior products. The only penalty for a shattered bat comes when cork or super balls fly out of the broken bat, as once happened to Chris Sabo when he found the bat in a storage room in old Riverfront Stadium. At least, that’s what he said.