Q: Have you ever seen a potential star shine so brightly and fade so quickly as former Reds pitcher Wayne Simpson? — BARRY, Bellbrook.
A: It was total flameout, but not his fault. Simpson was the Reds No. 1 draft pick in 1967 and joined the Reds in 1970. He won 13 of his first 14 starts and the loss came when a dropped fly ball let in two unearned errors. On July 31, Simpson blew his rotator cuff and it pre-dated Tommy Johnson surgery. He tried to pitch through it but was never close to his impeccable start. The Reds traded him after the 1972 season along with outfielder Hal McRae to Kansas City for pitcher Roger Nelson and outfielder Richie Scheinblum, but not before Simpson gave up Hank Aaron’s 3,000th hit.
Q: Why didn’t Reds’ manager David Bell have TJ Friedl bunt with no outs and a runner on first in the ninth inning with a one-run lead? — ALAN, Sugarcreek Twp.
A: Bunt? Bunt? If you type bunt into a baseball team’s computer system it says, “Does not compute.” To the analytics people, a bunt is an archenemy. They don’t believe in giving up outs. But I have gnashed my teeth many times when I thought a bunt was in order and the Reds chose to bounce into a double play. But I’m with Bell on this one, even though Friedl probably is the team’s best bunter. Arizona knows that, too, and the infielders were in so close Friedl could smell their pre-game snacks. Instead of bunting, Friedl flied to center, but the Reds did hang on to win, 5-4. And it happened again Tuesday in Arizona — 0-0 tie in the ninth, no outs, runners on second and first. Bunt? Nope. Nick Senzel grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. I nearly threw my Ola-Kai flip flop flops through the TV screen.
Q: How’s that Director of Pitching (Derek Johnson) working out after he was billed as a Miracle Worker when he came on board? — MICHAEL, Cincinnati.
A: There are no miracle workers in baseball. The game is too tough. But he is a major influence on a young starting staff with fabulous upside if the Reds keep them all — Hunter Greene, Graham Ashcraft, Connor Overton, Tyler Mahle and Luis Castillo. The bullpen? Of course, he works with them, but there is only so much one can do with mediocre arms. And remember that three of the best bullpenners, Lucas Sims, TeJay Anton and Justin Wilson, are injured.
Q: How many different major league ball parks have you covered games in, and which is your favorite? — DENNIS, Huber Heights.
A: I have covered games in 51 different parks, about half of which no longer exist. I covered games in three different parks in Cincinnati, St. Louis and Atlanta. My favorite: PNC Park in Pittsburgh, although Dodger Stadium, Oracle Park, Coors Field, Petco Park and Minute Maid Park are all close seconds. Notice I did not mention Fenway or Wrigley, fun places to watch games but nightmares to cover games in those historic venues. I hated Shea Stadium and when they planned to blow it up both Marty Brennaman and I volunteered to push the plunger.
Q: Should the Reds trade with the New York Yankees for Miguel Andujar and fill their need at third base? — MIKE, Indianapolis
A: Is there a need? If Mike Moustakas continues to struggle, Mark Reynolds is an option. Andujar was demoted to Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last week and asked to be traded. He is cost-effective at $1.3 million. But what would the Yankees want? Probably too much. I’ll steal a line from another Andujar, former Reds/Astros pitcher Joaquin Andujar, who once said, “I’ll answer that in one word. . .youneverknow.”
Q: What baseball stadium that no longer exists do you miss the most? — PATSY, Leiden, South Holland, The Netherlands.
A: My pick is one of the most despised baseball venues ever — Cleveland Municipal Stadium, The Mistake on the Lake. Why this place that sat 78,000 and usually was near-empty with pillars that blocked views? It was the baseball park of my youth, my first in-person games, attended with my father. And I once attended a doubleheader against the Yankees in 1954 with 86,562 other fans. And I captured a batting practice home run hit by Cleveland back-up catcher Hal Naragon.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Q: When a player gets called up from Class AAA Louisville, do the Reds pick up their living expenses? — GREG, Beaverceek.
A: If the Reds are home and Louisville is home, a player called up jumps in his car and speeds up I-71 to Cincinnati, and cost of gas be damned. If a player must be flown somewhere, the team pays for the flight. The team will pick up hotel expenses at home, but a player is expected to find his own lodging ASAP. Of course, when the team is on the road all travel and hotel bills are on the club. Amazingly, under the new contract, road meal money was cut from $100.50 a day to $30 a day. Cheese pizza, anybody? How about chicken nuggets?