When they built you, brother, they broke the mold
Before I write another word today, I must first pay tribute to my friend Hal McCoy.
Frankly, I’m honored to call McCoy a friend. He is, as many of you know, the Hall of Fame beat writer covering the Cincinnati Reds for the Dayton Daily News. But not for much longer.
The 68-year-old McCoy is the latest victim of a recession that has hit newspapers particularly hard. That McCoy is retiring from the business at season’s end after 37 years on the beat is significant, in and of itself. That the Dayton Daily News, a paper with a vaunted tradition of churning out Hall of Fame writers, will no longer cover the nearby Reds next season is another sad commentary on the state of journalistic affairs.
But the point of this post isn’t to bemoan a dying business or speculate about the future of sportswriting, as it pertains to Major League Baseball. It’s to use this modest forum to voice public appreciation for a man who deserves every accolade being thrown his way in the wake of his announcement last week that he’s leaving the beat.
When I took over the Reds beat for MLB.com in 2005, the thought of working alongside McCoy was intimidating. I wasn’t sure how he’d treat the 23-year-old punk who was new to the scene. Most guys in Hal’s position wouldn’t have given me the time of day.
But Hal, in many ways, took me under his wing. He introduced me to players. He shared insight. He pointed me to the best Italian restaurants in the league (and even picked up the tab at a few of them). And when I left that beat after one season to take over this one, he sent me an e-mail in which he called me a “real pro.” It was about as high a compliment as I could have possibly received.
Somehow, I get the feeling this isn’t the bottom of the ninth inning of Hal’s career. I’m sure some other opportunities will present themselves, and I hope I’m right. But whatever his future holds, my personal past in this profession was better for having Hal in it.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- Sorry to hear the news on Jake Westbrook getting shut down, as I know how much it would have meant to him to make it back this season. It’s too soon to tell what this means for Westbrook and the rotation in 2010. The Indians had hoped a healthy Westbrook would front the rotation. That might still happen. But the recovery time from Tommy John surgery is billed as 12-18 months, and Westbrook, who will soon turn 32, will fall on the latter end of that timetable.
- With Westbrook out of the picture, the Indians will have more room to get a feel for the younger arms in the system. Carlos Carrasco and Hector Rondon are both in line for exposure to this level in September, with Carrasco further along and more likely to get a start.
- Brad Grant, the Indians’ director of amateur scouting, said the Indians continue to have consistent dialogue with Alex White, the No. 15 overall pick in the Draft. The club is still optimistic that it will sign White before Monday’s midnight deadline. But 19 players from the first round remain unsigned, and everybody is waiting for the dominoes to start falling in earnest.
- In case you missed it, here’s the link to my video interview with Mark Shapiro about the recent trades and the current state of affairs. Not sure when I’ll receive my local Emmy. The people in charge of such things have not yet responded to my phone calls and e-mails.
- LHP Scott Lewis, who has been told to pitch through elbow soreness, pitched four innings and threw 50 pitches in Goodyear, Ariz., on Sunday. He’ll make his next start in four days.
- RHP Anthony Reyes, about 10 weeks removed from Tommy John surgery, has regained motion in his arm and is in Cleveland rehabbing. He won’t be ready to return to action until midseason 2010, at the earliest.
- Eric Wedge said he views lefty Tony Sipp and right-hander Joe Smith as his setup men, and he feels they complement each other well. Chris Perez is also slipping into more of a setup role. As for Jensen Lewis and Rafael Perez, Wedge said the Indians are just trying to “pick their spots” with when to use those guys to try to eke out some semblance of consistent effectiveness from them before season’s end.
- Wedge said Chris Gimenez could become an everyday player at this level if his bat comes. But if in case it wasn’t already apparent, Wedge said Gimenez’s best chance of sticking up here initially is as a versatile utilityman.
- Always good to see Omar Vizquel, and he had these dates circled on his calendar when he signed with the Rangers. Nice of Ron Washington to give him the start in the leadoff spot tonight.
- The Indians haven’t signed White, but they did sign 32nd-round selection Matt Packer, a left-hander from the University of Virginia. The Tribe has now signed 27 of its 50 picks.
- LHP Scott Barnes, acquired in the Ryan Garko trade with the Giants, has been promoted to Double-A Akron, where he’ll make his debut Wednesday at Connecticut. Barnes was 0-0 with a 2.13 ERA in three starts for Class A Kinston.
- In other acquisition news, right-hander Jason Knapp, considered by some to be the most high-upside pickup in the Cliff Lee trade, will make his organizational debut tonight for Class A Lake County. Knapp had been shut down about a month with right biceps tenderness.
- You’ve probably seen this note by now, but it bears repeating. In the wake of the Carl Pavano trade, the Indians are down to just four players who have been here all year without any trips to the DL or the Minors. They are Jhonny Peralta, Shin-Soo Choo, Kerry Wood and Kelly Shoppach.
- The Indians have won five of their last six series and 12 of 18 games overall. During that stretch, their offense is averaging 6.17 runs per game and the pitching staff has a 3.93 ERA. It’s all coming together… and only two months too late.
UPDATE: Just got word that the Indians have outrighted Josh Barfield off the 40-man and onto the Columbus roster. It’s a housecleaning move, and Barfield cleared waivers to make it happen. Quite a fall from grace for the guy once viewed as the long-term answer at 2B.
In other roster news, the recently designated Jose Veras cleared waivers and was outrighted to Columbus. He had not yet decided whether or not to accept the assignment.
The 40-man is now at 33 players.