ASK HAL: Some ‘Advice’ For Reds Manager David Bell

By Hal McCoy

Q: Can you recall a prominent example of a top tier player receiving special privileges? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.
A: In 1998, Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Kevin Malone enraged the baseball industry by signing free agent pitcher Kevin Brown to a seven-year $105 million deal, the firsrt $100 milllion contract. In addition, LA agreed to provide Brown’s family a free charter airplane to fly back and forth from Georgia for all of his starts. Why is it always the Dodgers? Jim Bowden, GM of the Cincinnati Reds at the time, later said, “I was the GM of a small market team and that $105 million equaled about four years of our entire payroll.” And two years into the contract, the Dodgers traderd
Brown to the New York Yankees. Of course, they did.

Q: What was the best part of spring training for you? — GREG, Albuquerque, NM.
A: I covered spring training in Tampa, Plant City, Sarasota and Goodyear. Sarasota wins by 20 lengths. I had a condo on Siesta Key where I could walk out the door, turn left, take 10 steps and I was on the sugar-like beach. Oh yeah, and there was some fun baseball involved.

Q: Your thoughts on Joey Votto and Jack McKeon as Hall of Famers? — ANDY, Cincinnati.
A: I’m straddled on the fence for Votto and all I need is a slight push. As for Trader Jack, I’m already in Cooperstown pushing him over the fence. From making massive trades as GM of the San Diego Padres to winning a World Series for the then Florida Marlins, McKeon has done it all. And he should be in the cigar Hall of Fame, too.

Q: Would you rather extend the contracts now of Matt McLain or Elly De La Cruz? — SHAUN, Huber Heights.
A: Whoa. Slow down. Neither one has a full season of MLB experience and are under club control for several years. There is no need for any extensions in the immediate future. Let them play it out for a couple pf years, see if they are for real, before filling their bank accounts with a armored car full of $100 bills.

Q: Since you are batting .1000 any time a manager asked for your advice, what would you suggest to Reds manager David Bell? — BOB, Powell, OH.
A: Yes, Lou Piniella asked me for advice in 1990, the first and last time a manager put me on the spot. My advice to Bell would be to move Elly De La Cruz to center field, move Matt McLain to shortstop and permit Jonathan India to keep second base. If he asks what I would do with center fielder T.J. Friedl, I would shrug my shoulders or act as if I didn’t hear him.

Q: Is there any plausible reason why Dave Concepcion is not in the Hall of Fame? — RYAN, Englewood.
A: I’m asked this question once every fortniight, sometimes twice. I always answer, “No plausiblle reason.” He was the best shortstop of his era. Maybe the voters think there are already too many Big Red Machinists haunting the Hall. I always tell Davey he should have learned the back flip the way Ozzie Smith did it on the field. Smith is in the Hall and Concepcion was as good, if not better, than Smith.

Q: Do you have a favorite Opening Day game story? — ROBERT, Big Canoe, GA.
A: So many, so many. I covered more than 40. My least favorite was the day umpire John McSherry died of a heart attack near the screen behind home plate. I’ll never forget shortstop Pokey Reese’s Opening Day debut. He made four errors. Owner Marge Schott had elephants from the Cincinnati Zoo on the field before the game. After the game, Pokey told me, “The way I played, I should have been following those elephants with a trash bag, but I probably would have missed.”

Q: Are MLB players required to wear a hat/cap on the field at all times? ¸— BILL, Villa Hills, Ky.
A: Oddly, no. Nothing in the official rules addresses hats. But a player would be foolhardy not to wear one. A cap’s bill shades eyes for tracking fly balls in the sun or the lights, prevents sun-burned foreheads, absorbs perspiration and I’m told that women dig men in hats. And at last count (by Nadine), I have 27 baseball hats, some of which I actually wear.

Q: The Dodgers are moving Mookie Betts from outfield to shortstop and do you recall any other All-Star outfielders moving from the outfield to shortstop? — AL, Columbus.
A: I barely missed covering him, but Ed Delahanty played for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1888 to 1903 and moved from the outfield to shortstop/second base late in his career. He’s the only other one I could find. Usually it is the other way. A lot of players have moved from shortstop to the outfield. But Betts is so talented it won’t matter. He can play anywhere and anything, probably even the bagpipes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *