Q: Take away Homer Bailey’s two no-hitters and what have you got other than a big contract to honor? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.
A: You have a guy who has endured three serious surgeries on his arm in the last three years, a guy who has worked tirelessly to get back to where he was, a guy who is invaluable in advising and guiding the Cincinnati Reds pitchers and you have a guy who gave me two pairs of new sneakers because we both wear size 13 and he didn’t like the shoes adidas sent him. I love ’em.
Q: What is your opinion of the Reds keeping manager Bryan Price for next season? — RICHARD, Tipp City. A:
Selfishly, I love it. The guy is the media’s delight. He answers every question with an ocean of words and a sea of good sense. Yes, the Reds are on their way to a third straight last-place finish, but don’t place the blame at his feet. They traded away most of his veterans, the pitching staff has been ravaged by injures all three years and now he is force-fed a pitching staff of raw rookies. His option was picked up for next year and it wasn’t an extension. He comes cheap, and with all the young players he is probably the right man. Given the same team, I’d challenge Sparky Anderson, Lou Piniella or Jack McKeon to do better. Not likely.
Q: What are your World Series picks as this season winds down and the Indians look unbeatable? — JEFF, Troy. A:
Every team is beatable. The talking heads and pundits were anointing the Dodgers as the best team in the history of mankind earlier this season, then they lost 11 straight. Picking World Series participants is fool’s gold. Anything can happen in the postseason. How many times have we seen wildcard teams not only in the World Series, but winning it. I’m picking Houston and Los Angeles for the World Series because I’m always wrong and I really want to see my Indians and the Washington Nationals (Dusty Baker) in the Fall Classic.
Q: I hear and read comments about Reds pitchers not being able to bunt, so why don’t the Reds have their pitchers bat in the minors? — LARRY, Piqua. A:
If you have noticed, the home run is king and the bunt is ancient history. It isn’t just the Reds and it isn’t just the pitchers. Nobody can bunt efficiently. And there are definite rules about the designated hitter in the minors. In Triple-A and Double-A games, the DH is used unless both teams are affiliates of a National League team. Then the pitcher bats. In Class A games the DH is always used. So Reds pitchers do bat in Triple-A and Double-A games when they play teams associated with then NL. And they do practice bunting — all the time. In this case practice does not necessarily make perfect.
Q: Is Dave Parker deserving of being in the Hall of Fame? — ERIC, Celina. A:
In my book, which isn’t very thick, he certainly does. He played in the majors for 19 seasons and had a career slash line of .290/.339/.471 with 339 home runs and 1,493 RBIs. And at 6-foot5, 230 pounds he stole 154 bases. During his prime he was one of baseball’s most feared hitters. Unfortunately, he was caught up in the Pittsburgh cocaine scandal in the 1980s and that has been held against him. Hey, Tim Raines made it with the same kind of background. Why not Dave “The Cobra” Parker?
Q: My question really isn’t about baseball, but what is up with that Redzilla contraption? — BECKY, Trenton. A:
That “vehicle” they run around the track midgame between innings to shoot goodies into the stands makes enough noise to wake up Bob Howsam. It isn’t a contraption, it’s a distraction. When your team is bad, you try anything to grab attention. I’m waiting for the thing to run over an opposing player running out of the dugout and onto the field. It has come close a couple of times. It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.
Q: Any chance the Reds re-sign Zack Cozart? — DICK, Jackson, Tenn. A:
There is always a chance, as slim as it seems. He will be a free agent after the season, and the season he is having, despite a bad leg injury, will push his price tag up and up. And the Reds are loading up with young infield prospects as part of the rebuild. Had he not been injured and on the disabled list at the trade deadline, he’d probably be playing for Tampa Bay right now. I’d like to see them keep him, but I would have liked for them to keep Johnny Cueto, Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce. OK, and Brandon Phillips, too, even though he wouldn’t talk to me.
Q: Have you ever broken the unwritten rule and cheered in the press box? — STOCC, Miamisburg. A:
Just once. Yes, there is a rule that there is no cheering in the press box. Former Chicago Tribune baseball writer Jerome Holtzman wrote a great book about baseball writers called “No Cheering in the Press Box.” The only time in my 44 years I saw writers applaud and cheer, me included, was the night Pete Rose singled off San Diego’s Eric Show for his historic 4,192nd hit. The entire Riverfront Stadium press box stood and applauded. And nobody gave anybody a dirty look, as happens when some neophyte reporter cheers.
Q: How close do you think MLB is to implementing a clock between pitches or limiting catcher/infielder trips to the mound? — MATT, Charlotte, N.C. A:
The clock probably will be born next year. And it won’t work. They already have the two-minute clock between innings for pitchers to warm up. I’ve watched closely and time and time again pitchers get their full eight warmups, even when the clock expires. They’ve tried about everything to speed up the game, but nothing works. Remember when they emphasized keeping hitters near the batter’s box between pitches. They are back to wandering all over Hell’s Half Acre between pitches. I’m in favor of restricting mound visits to the manager or pitching coach (no catchers, no infielders). I’m also in favor of not permitting warmup pitches for relief pitchers. They warm up in the bullpen, don’t they?