ASK HAL: What Are David Bell’s Strengths And Weaknesses?

(Ask Hal)

By Hal McCoy

Q: Do many players engage frequently in reading books? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.
A: I never took a poll to ask if players were bookworms because I only saw them on the field or in the clubhouse, not places to extensively read. I do know Pete Rose said, “I wrote a book before I ever read one.” And pitcher Chris Hammond sat at his locker reading the Bible every day. Fellow pitcher Kent Mercker stopped at Hammond’s locker one day while he was reading his Bible and asked, “Haven’t you finished that book yet?”

Q: What is your take on the sliding mittens players wear on the basepaths? — BRAD, Kansas City.
A: They are great on Nadine when she pulls pies out of the oven, but they don’t belong on the hands of base stealers and should be outlawed. Let them use regular batting gloves to protect their hands and fingers while sliding. But those extended mittens make them look like Edward Scissorshands and give an unfair advantage. Aren’t the bigger bases enough of an advantage?

Q: In addition to fastballs, curveballs, change-ups and sinkers from the past, we now hear about sliders, splitters, sweepers, four-seamers and two-seamers, so how do the broadcasters know what each pitch is? — SCOTT, Springfield.
A: I played baseball for 25 years and covered baseball for 51 years and I never could tell the differences between some pitches, even before my eyes went into early retirement. How do broadcasters know? They are tuned in to GameDay on MLB’s web-site and it instantaneously reveals what each pitch is. It’s their cheat sheet and sometiimes they even get it right.

Q: What are the strengths and weaknesses of Cincinnaati Reds manager David Bell? — KEITH, Brookville.
A: His strengths are his pedigree, the grandson of Gus Belll and son of Buddy Bell, plus his own major-league playing exerience. And he is even keel, win or lose, keeps the team relaxed — perhaps too relaxed at times. He does show moxie when he argues with umpires, protecting his players. I fear, though, he might rely too much on analytics. Some of his many different lineups make no sense and probably are analytics driven. He doesn’t rely on his personal eye test. Players are not mathematical robots. They have hearts and souls that can’t be found on a computer. He should manage like Sparky Anderson, not Steve Jobs

Q: This might be the most stupid question you ever received, but why are the Kroger patches white on the Reds home white uniforms, white on the road gray uniforms, but black on the City Connect uniforms? — BILL, Rabbit Hash, KY.
A: Any question to which you don’t know the answer is not stupid. The City Connect costumes are black-and-red and the Nike designers didn’ want to despoil that theme with a splash of white. They remind me of Black Friday, not good for a baseball team, and the Kroger marketing department should be outraged because their patch is barely visible on those black pajamas.

Q: Why are the Reds playing all those American League teams? — ART, West Chester.
A: It’s called interleague play and it has been in existence since 1997. Before then, National League team never played American League team until the World Series. Interleague games give fans a chance to see all the teams and all the players in person. Back in the day, Reds fans never got to see in person American League stars like Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Al Kaline, Bob Feller and many others. Personally, I liked the old mystique. Now when teams reach the World Series, they’ve already met during the season. But then I liked the Edsel, phonograh players and Stetson hats.

Q: You mentioned Al Rosen in a recent column and do you remember his nickname and how he got it? — WALTER, Regina, Saskatchewan.
A: Rosen had two nicknames, most commonly referred to as ‘Flip,’ because he had a limp-wristed style of throwing, flipping the ball. He also was called the Hebrew Hammer, a reference to his Jewish heritage. He endured many slurs and was quick to challenge the slur-tossers to fights. Rosn was the MVP in 1953 by unanimous vote, ironically the first unanimous choice since Hank Greenberg in 1940. Greenberg also was Jewish.

Q: Why, for safety’s sake, did they not stop the Reds-Giants game when the pelican landed on the field? — CHARLIE, South Vienna.
A: I’m surprised the bird wasn’t a buzzard circling the Reds for their early-season performance. Birds invading ball parks in San Francisco are commonplace. Flocks of sea gulls often land in the outfield and the games go on. A minor league baseball team in New Orleans once was nicknamed the Pelicans so perhaps they thought a pelican was OK on the field. Or maybe in the interest of speeding up the game, commissioner Rob Manfred issued a special Bird Rule that says play on. At least it entertained the fans and drew attention from the cameras.

Q: Why don’t they put in a rule that a batter is automatically out if he swings and lets go of his bat because it is dangerous and it seem to happen all the time? — PENNIE, Springfield.
A: That’s a bit harsh because no player does it on purpose. It isn’t like when Bert Campaneris threw his bat at pitcher Lerrin LaGrow or when Roger Clemens threw a broken bat at Mike Piazza in a World Series game. Those guys deserved ejections, fines and suspensions. But when a bat slips, that’s an accident and I see now reason for the guy to be penalized. Just advise him, “Please, sir, put more pine tar on your bat handled and your gloves,” because that’s when the game needs a stick situation.

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