By Hal McCoy
Q: With all the legal sports betting going on, are you surprised that we haven’t seen players suspended for doing it? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.
A: Since sports betting is legal in so many states, baseball players can bet. MLB says any player betting on baseball will be suspended, but I wonder what a court of law might say. And if a player wants to bet on baseball, what’s to stop him from having a friend make the wagers. A player would be dumb to place his own bets on baseball, but not too many players are Rhodes scholars.
Q: Who else, other than Elly De La Cruz, stole second, third and home on two pitches? —MIKE AND BILL, Kettering/Centerville.
A: Stealing second, third and home in one inning is not unique or uncommon. It has been done 26 times in the American League, four times by Ty Cobb. It has been done 29 times in the National League, three times by Honus Wagner. When Pete Rose played for the Phillies in 1980, he did it against the Reds when he was 40 years old. Wil Myers, currently on the Reds’ roster, did it in 2017 for the San Diego Padres. How many pitches it took is not recorded, but Baseball Almanac doubts that anybody did it on two pitches. My common sense agrees.
Q: What scout is working the Dominican Republic who is responsible for the Reds signing Elly De La Cruz? — RICK, San Antonio, TX.
A: Several teams have youth development camps in foreign countries and employ several scouts. De La Cruz was discovered in a Reds’ camp at age 16 and scout Emmanuel Cartagena is credited with signing him for $65,000. Never has there been a better bargain since Peter Minuet bought Manhattan for $24. Cartagena should be driving a Ferrari given to him by the Reds for giving them a human Ferrari.
Q: Would Elly De La Cruz be even faster if he weren’t weighted down with all that jewelry and what happened to MLB’s non-approval of costume jewelry, as when they used to make pitchers tuck them under their jerseys? — LOWELL, Hamilton and GREG, Beavercreek.
A: About the only thing that would slow down De La Cruz is if he trired to run against a tsumani. A few years ago, MLB adopted a “Let ‘Em Play” stance, permitting bat flips, exaggerated home run celebrations, costumes in the dugout after homers and it lifted the ban on jewelry. Forget being De La Cruz’s agent, I just want to be his jeweler.
Q: Do you like the new interleague scheduling whereby every team plays every team in both leagues? — ANDREW, Dayton.
A: I like it like I like my bare toes stepped on by baseball spikes. I’ve never liked interleague, even the old method of the Reds playing American League teams from one division every year. And now I like it less. I believe it takes some lustre off the World Series. No matter what teams are in it, they’ve already played during the season and that removes some of the mysterious elements. I liked it when teams were not familiar after already playing games against each other.
Q: Who, in your mind, were the best five-tool players? — JACK, Miamisburg.
A: Prejudcially speaking, my first two are Cincinnati Reds, Ken Griffey Jr. and Eric Davis. And I’d add Dayton native Mike Schmidt. No. 1 all-time has to be Willie Mays. And there was Mickey Mantle before he tore up his knees. Add Roberto Clemente, Barry Bonds and Henry Aaron. From all I’ve read, Oscar Charleston from the Negro Leagues was a five-tooler. Near the top of most people’s list is Ty Cobb, but I missed covering him by a couple of years. For the neophytes, five tools mean a player is above average in batting average, power, speed, arm and defense. Elly De La Cruz? He might be a six-tool player.
Q: The Reds bullpen has been unexpectedly very good so do you believe they need starting pitching for the second half? — VASU, San Jose, CA.
A: Andrew Abbott has been fantastic. Graham Ashcraft appears to have it back together. Ben Lively was good in his last appearance in Milwaukee. The team is expected to get Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo back in early August. So why mess with success. It ain’t broke so put away the tools. Don’t mess with karma. It looks to me as if no trade might be their best trade.
Q: Is the hiring of Sean Casey as the New York Yankees hitting coach a favor from manager Aaron Boone? — CHRIS, Fairfied.
A: That’s some favor and I can’t fathom what Boone might owe The Mayor. Yes, they are great friends from their days as Reds teammates. And you like to have a close relationship, work with somebody you trust. There is nobody more trustworthy than Casey and he knows as much about what to do at home plate as Ted Williams’ book, ‘The Science of Hitting.’ And if Boone gets fired, The Mayor could become The Manager
Q: What was your favorite stadium in which to cover a game? — RYAN/Elvis, Englewood.
A: I always love the beauty of pristine PNC Park and the view of downtown Pittsburgh and the Roberto Clemente Bridge. But to cover a game, my favorite is Houston’s Minute Maid Park. It was formerly Union Station, hence the cool viaduct behind the Crawford Boxes and the full-scale vintage steam locomotive on top of the viaduct. I stayed at a baseball-themed hotel across the street. It had all baseball books in a lobby library, baseball paintings in all the rooms and baseball bats for bed posts and railings. I could walk across the street into the front door and take 20 steps to the best pressbox in baseball. And it had a private elevator from the press box to the clubhouse. Yeah, we are spoiled.