Bench unrivaled as top catching in last 60 years


Q: Are you in favor of the balanced schedule where a team plays every team even if it means more games that start at our bedtimes? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: A resounding yes. The old unbalanced schedule was unfair because not every team played the same teams. Some played strong teams and some played weak teams when it came to interleague matchup and one-division matchups. As for staying up late, I don’t mind staying up late, it’s the chores Nadine makes me do all morning and evening until the games on the West Coast start. And my three dogs beg me to go to bed before the games start.

Q: I feel sure you agree that Johnny Bench is the best catcher in the last 60 years, so who is the next best that you saw? — DICK, Hendersonville, TN.

A: Johnny Bench is on a pedestal above the rest. Despite what some might believe, I never saw Mickey Cochrane, Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella or Josh Gibson. But of those I did see, the best in my mind were Yadier Molina, Carlton Fisk, Buster Posey, Gary Carter, Mike Piazza and Pudge Rodriguez. And one who doesn’t get the respect he deserves is Dayton’s own Steve Yeager.

Q: Do you think Elly De La Cruz is going to surpass Adam Dunn in strikeouts? — ELVIS, Englewood.

A: Not this year and only because he didn’t start the season with the Reds. After 72 games, De La Cruz struck out 111 times. In 2004, Adam Dunn whiffed 195 times. If he played a full season this year, De La Cruz would easily surpass 200 whiffs and eradicate Dunn’s record. Dunn also drew 108 walks. Elly hasn’t learned patience and owns only 22 walks. So, in your vernacular, fans shouldn’t get All Shook Up while the 21-year-old Elly learns that patience is a virtue in the batter’s box.

Q: What would happen if TJ Friedl had laid down a bunt for a hit late in the game when San Francisco’s Alex Cobb was working toward a no-hitter? — ALAN, Sugarcreek Twp.

A: They might have found his body floating in San Francisco Bay. It is considered bad form to break up a no-hitter with a bunt, although I disagree. Friedl’s job is to get on base any way he can and not worry about the other team’s feelings. I noticed in the seventh inning, the third baseman was playing close to shortstop and Elly De La Cruz could have bunted up the third base line and crawled to first on hands and knees. He didn’t. He grounded out to second base. And he only struck out twice in that game.

Q: While watching a Cleveland-Minnesota game, I saw a runner on first with one out and Twins shortstop Carlos Correa let a pop-up drop so he could get a force at second, so why wasn’t the infield fly rule called? — JOEL, Cedarville.

A: The infield fly rule rivals Einstein’s Theory of Relativity when it comes to explaining. For the infield fly rule to be invoked, there must be runners on second and first or the bases loaded with less than two outs. If there is only a runner on first and less than two outs, the infield fly rule can’t be called. Next time just ask me how to split an atom.

Q: Does Reds manager David Bell have a uniform jersey because all he ever wears is a hoodie or a sweatshirt? — TOM, Cincinnati.

A: Yes, he has a locker full of home and away jerseys, he just prefers not to wear them. They are No. 25 in honor of his father, Buddy, who wore No. 25. It’s a personal preference. Actually, I don’t understand why baseball managers wear game uniforms. They don’t play. In no other sport do you see it, not in football, not in basketball, not in soccer. Connie Mack always wore a three-piece suit and a fedora when he managed the Philadelphia Athletics for 50 years until he retired at age 87. All managers since wear baseball uniforms, for no apparent reason.

Q: Which MLB managers will be relieved of their duties after the season? — MICHAEL, Beavercreek.

A: I was carrying my crystal ball last year when I fell in my driveway and broke both my hip and the ball. So, taking a wild guess, I fear my old friend and former Reds player Aaron Boone will feel the guillotine. As with most managers, bad seasons aren’t their fault, but they can’t fire an entire team. And since Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reindorf fired the top people in the front office, manager Pedro Grifol probably is gone. And if I’m St. Louis manager Omar Marmol, Angels manager Phil Nevin and San Diego manager Bob Melvin, I can make plans for a European vacation next summer.

Q: Is Hunter Greene a what you see is what you get pitcher? — BOB, Dayton.

A: That’s pretty much with every pitcher. What you see on a certain day is what you get that day. And it is seldom the same. After two horrible outings after he came of the injured list, some fans wanted him air mailed to Manchuria. Then he pitched a gem in his third start. He is young and learning. He has the arm and the stuff. He just doesn’t have the experience. Be prudent and have patience.

Q: Have any Reds players, managers or coaches ever given you compliments or appreciated the great stories you’ve written or the years? — GREG, Beavercreek.

A: An emphatic no. I was just happy every day that nobody complained about something I wrote or said I misquoted them. The Reds printed out every story a beat writer and/or a columnist wrote and distributed them in the clubhouse and press box. So, if they chose, the players could read them. I’ve had many players come at me shaking the printouts in my face. Fortunately, none of them ever game me a paper cut.

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