Ask Hal: Missing playoffs wouldn’t hurt India’s chances

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

Q: As we see pitchers applaud great defensive plays by their teammates who will be the first to show his appreciation with a somersault or backflip? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

ExploreReds lose sixth straight series

A: Were you paying attention in 2012? Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman struck out Milwaukee’s Martin Maldonado to save a 4-3 victory. Chapman immediately did a double roll front somersault toward home plate. One and done. Manager Dusty Baker told him, “That’s it. No more. Never again.” Now the process is for a pitcher to point to the sky after ending an inning, as if The Almighty intervened and told him to throw a down-and-way slider.

Q: Does a rookie stand a better chance of being Rookie of the Year if his team makes the playoffs versus not making the playoffs? — GREG, Beavercreek.

A: No, that is not a factor. Voting for all awards — MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year — is done before the postseason begins. If you are concerned about Cincinnati Reds rookie Jonathan India, don’t be. I can’t believe he won’t be Rookie of Year because to me the multi-talented second baseman is the team’s ignition switch. He makes the team go.

Q: What happens to a ball player’s salary when they are on the injured list? — REV. BOB, St. Paris, O.

A: It goes right into their bank account or is used to buy a Lamborghini. When players are on the injured list they still receive their full pay. They can’t dock a player for getting hurt. In 2012, the Reds signed free agent Ryan Madson to be their closer, a one-year $8.5 million contract. During spring training, he tore a ligament and underwent Tommy John surgery, paid for by the Reds. He was on the roster all year, never threw a pitch, and was paid the full $8.5 million After the season, he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. How’s that for displaying gratitude?

Q: Why does Shogo Akiyama never get a start in Reds’ games when he is such a great center fielder? — EILEEN, Dayton.

A: It is called a .199 batting average, zero home runs, 12 RBI and 38 strikeouts in 156 at bats. His run-and-slap hitting approach produces noting but weak fly balls. And he mostly lost his chance to start because of the production by Ty Naquin. Yes, he is outstanding on defense, but 0 for 4 at bat hurts more than one outstanding running a catch a game helps. In fact, it is a wash over whether Akiyama, Nick Senzel or Eugenio Suarez wins the Disappointment of the Year Award.

Q: What are your thoughts on umpire reviews? — ROBERT, Big Canoe, Ga.

A: Mostly it is a big waste of time. They stand there and stand there and stand there wearing headphones, waiting for New York to rule on high. And then often they still get it wrong. And it makes umpires lazy and they can say, “Hey, if I don’t get it right, maybe New York will.” Maybe. Players make mistakes and so do umpires. It once was part of the game. We should live with it.

Q: What is your all-time Reds team and who is the manager? —KRIS, Dayton.

A: That’s tough because I’ve covered the Reds since 1973. But here’s my team (since 1973 and active players are ineligible): C-Johnny Bench, 1B-Tony Perez/Sean Casey (tie), 2B-Joe Morgan, 3B-Pete Rose, SS-Barry Larkin/Dave Concepcion; (tie), LF-George Foster, CF-Eric Davis, RF-Dave Parker, RHP-Mario Soto, LHP-Don Gullett, RRP-Rob Dibble, LRP-Norm Charlton. Manager-Lou Piniella (Sparky Anderson had it too easy).

Q: What is the reason manager David Bell hasn’t used a set lineup all season because his lineups hurt the team defensively and hitting? — JIM, Spring Valley.

A: The days of set lineups are long gone. The computers, via analytics, says who plays and who doesn’t. Most teams are building their rosters with versatility, players need to be adept at several positions. However, I do feel Bell’s lineup against left-handed pitchers is weak because he uses Aristides Aquino and Eugenio Suarez, strikeouts waiting to happen.

Q: Why isn’t Max Schrock starting every day and do you think he should be playing third base? — KURT, Dayton.

A: Whenever a player gets hot, he is the fans’ du jour player. And that’s Schrock right now. He is good at hitting right-handed pitching, not so good against lefties. That’s why Bell platoons him. Third base? Not sure how efficient he would be at third, but the team certainly needs an offensive jolt there with the low production of Eugenio Suarez and Mike Moustakas.


Q: If you didn’t cover the Reds, what other team would you have chosen to cover, and you can’t choose your hometown Cleveland Indians? — JAMES, Huber Heights.

A: It’s my life and I’ll pick who I want. But not Cleveland. My objectivity would fly out the press box window. San Diego is my favorite MLB city, Petco Park is a gorgeous venue and the Padres finally have a good team (allegedly). So I’d stock up on suntan lotion and find a nice beach house on Mission Bay.

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