Ask Hal: Who should be the Reds’ closer?

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: How does an Olympic Gold Medal compare with a World Series ring? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: Since I have neither, I wouldn’t know. I would assume the World Series ring is more personal, but the gold medal is something you’ve accomplished for your country. A World Series ring represents big money. A gold medal represents pride.

Q: They didn’t trade for one, so on the current roster, including Class AAA Louisville, who is your closer? — ARLEY, Middletown.

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A: Unless you have Josh Hader or Craig Kimbrel, I’m not big on a designated closer. I believe matchups and situations should dictate who pitches the ninth, not just one guy no matter what. Sometimes your best relief pitcher can save a game in the seventh or eighth. That being said, to me the closest guy the Reds have for that role is Michael Lorenzen. He is confident, almost cocky, fears nothing, has great stuff and those guns sticking out of his shirt sleeves would scare the heck out of me.

Q: Has a player ever been upset with you for something you’ve written about them? — KEVIN, Centerville.

A: Too many to enumerate, but there was one real biggie. Joe Morgan was upset with something I wrote in 1978 and told me, “Don’t ever try to talk to me again.” I didn’t. We didn’t speak for 37 years. Very childish on both sides. Fortunately, before he died, he apologized in 2015 and I apologized. And I don’t even remember what I wrote that was worth 37 years of silence.

Q: What do the initials stand for on MLB umpires’ shirts? — MIKE, Beavercreek.

A: Advertising is creeping ever closer in MLB and it won’t be long before we see advertising initials and logs on players’ uniforms. Right now, it is the umpires. Starting after the All-Star game, the memorial patch for deceased colleagues was removed. Money talks. The initials FTX are now on all umpire shirts. FTX in a cryptocurrency exchange, a website that permit users to trade for cryptocurrency, also known as digital cash. It is as clear to me as the infield fly rule is to my wife, but MLB is cashing in.

Q: Do you think the Reds could beat the Dodgers in a seven-game series? — LOUIE, Raleigh, N.C.

A: In baseball, anything can happen and often does happen. A team with the worst record in baseball can win a series from a team with the best record in baseball. First, both teams have to make the playoffs and it is not a given for either team right now. If the Dodgers make it, with their starting staff loaded with Cy Young winners, they’ll be tough to beat in a long series. The Reds? The wild card is within a short reach, so let’s put the horse in front of the cart and see if they make the playoffs.

Q: During extra innings with the ghost runner on second, why don’t road teams make it a priority to score that runner and take their chances with their closer in the bottom of the inning. — DAVE, Hattiesburg, Miss.

A: I’ve often wondered the same thing. Bunt him to third where he can score in so many different ways. But, as they do throughout the game, teams go for the big inning. Bunting is a lost art so a successful sacrifice is no guarantee. And most teams already have used their closer in the ninth inning and then take him out. Why? Beats me. The more I watch baseball these days, the more it perplexes me.

Q: What changes do you see coming in the next collective bargaining agreement? — BILL, Houston, Tex.

A: A new agreement, unless there is a strike, will be in place next season. And I know, much to my major chagrin, that the designated hitter is coming to the National League. I have heard rumblings that the ghost runner on second base in extra innings will vanish. That’s a good thing. A ghost should vanish and stay vanished.

Q: What is the call if Jonathan India’s helmet flies off and a live ball hits it? — WALT, Dayton.

A: Some old-timers might call out, “Get a haircut.” India’s helmet spends more time on the ground than on his head. If a ball hits it, play continues. It is the same as if a ball hits an umpire, a fallen helmet or if a thrown ball hits a discarded bat. Play continues as if the helmet, umpire or bat were not there. Wouldn’t it be something if India was on first and Jesse Winker hit a ball between second and first and India loses his helmet and Winker’s ball lodges inside the helmet? The second baseman would have to throw the helmet to first base.


Q: The Reds traded for three relief pitchers while they were in Chicago and all three players had uniforms with their names on them, so how did that happen? — SETH, Middletown.

A: The Reds have tons of uniforms in stock in all sizes, so that’s no problem. They have a seamstress under contract in Cincinnati who can sew the names on quickly and overnight them to Chicago, or wherever. One time, though, they did have a problem. They acquired a huge first baseman, Cal Pickering, and no pants in stock fit him. They went to a sporting goods store in downtown Cincinnati and purchased a pair of XXXL softball pants with pinstripes.