Ask Hal: What impact will Marte make in his return to Reds?

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

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: Will baseball players in the future resemble race car drivers, completely adorned with an array of sponsorship patches on their uniforms? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: Some players believe they are race car drivers. Aroldis Chapman once nearly ran me over as I stepped from a curb just as he whipped his Lamborghini around the corner at the speed of an old Offenhauser. With most teams wearing advertising patches on their sleeves, that’s the beginning. It is a revenue stream and MLB is always looking for cold, hard cash. Expect it to expand to chest patches, back patches, hat patches — wherever a patch can be plastered.

Q: How much difference will Noelvi Marte make once he returns from his suspension? — RYAN, Englewood.

A: The kid is multi-talented and could make a huge difference. The big question is where will he play? The Reds have Jeimer Candelario at third, Elly De La Cruz at shortstop and Jonathan India at second.

Marte mostly played third last year, but manager David Bell is slippery and dodgy when asked where Marte will play and he said, “Some third, some short and some second.” Personally, I put him at third in place of Candelario. But Reds managers tend to ignore my amateur advice.

Q: What opposing teams’ fans are the easiest to get along with and which are the most obnoxious? — TYLER, West Carrollton.

A: Fans in Dodger Stadium are almost as polite as if they were sitting in church. They seem to come more to see the celebrities than Shohei Ohtani, Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts. The most obnoxious are the fans in Philadelphia. Remember when they booed Santa Claus? Ball players are adept at profanity, but Reds relief pitchers told me that Philly fans near the bullpen hurl some words at them that turned their ears red.

Q: Of all the Reds stadiums in which you’ve covered games, which is your favorite? — SHAUN, Vandalia.

A: I covered the last game in Crosley Field, the first game in Riverfront Stadium, the last game in Riverfront/Cinergy Field and the first game in Great American Ball Park. I doubt I’ll make the last game in GABP. Being an old-school guy, I loved Crosley Field because there was never a park like it with the terraced outfield, the sun/moon deck in right field and the small seating capacity. And that is in spite of no parking and an open-air press box. That was not pleasant in August and required umbrellas during rain delays.

Q: With robots calling balls and strikes in the minors, how is R2-D2 going to call half-swings and how are managers going to argue strikes and balls? — JACK, Miamisburg.

A: Hal 9000, the robot, is coming to an MLB park near you soon, probably 2025. There will still be a home plate umpire hooked up to the robot to judge half swings. And managers, even now without robots, are not permitted to argue balls and strikes. If they do, ejection. I can’t wait to see a player take a bat to one of the robots.

Q: What player move shocked you the most? — STOCC, Miamisburg.

A: Most Reds fans call the trade of Tony Perez to Montreal for pitchers Woodie Fryman and Dale Murray the most shocking, and it was shocking. For me, though, it was the trade of outfielder Paul O’Neill to the New York Yankees for outfielder Roberto Kelly. It was a bigger bust than the bust of Julius Caesar. While Kelly had two non-descript seasons with the Reds, O’Neill won more World Series rings than he has on his throwing hand with the Yankees. The Frank Robinson trade was pitiful, too, but that was even before my time.

Q: Do ball players pay city and/or state taxes in the major league cities in which they play? — FRED, Monroe.

A: Indeed, the IRS is on road trips with them. Not only do Reds players pay taxes in Cincinnati and Ohio, they pay them to each MLB town in which they play that year. And you can hear their screams and howls from Boston to San Diego. As Pete Harnisch once said as he looked at his check, “Uncle Sam’s name should be on this check instead of mine.”

Q: Pete Rose had no arm, no speed and no power, so with the way they scout players now, would we have ever seen him in a major league uniform? — DENNY, Fairfield.

A: Absolutely not. Scouts don’t measure the size of a player’s heart or the depth of his hustle. And even back in the 1960s, when scouts were more lenient, Rose never would have been signed. It was his great fortune that his uncle, Buddy Bloebaum, was a bird dog scout for the Reds and convinced the team to take a chance. What a chance, huh?

Q: When the Cleveland Guardians were in Cincinnati last week, which team did you root for? — ED, Butler Twp.

A: Former baseball writer Jerome Holtzman wrote a book, ‘No Cheering in the Press Box.’ And it’s true. No cheering, except under you breath. For the Cleveland-Cincinnati series, I couldn’t lose. I grew up in Akron, 35 miles from Cleveland Municipal Stadium and was/is an Indians/Guardians fan since I was eight in 1948. And I’ve covered the Reds for 51 years and you want the team you cover to do well because readership is better. So, you see, I couldn’t lose ... and I didn’t.

About the Author