What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
Now that baseball is back upon us, it is time to revisit a discussion that pops up every year around this time…what to to do about the designated hitter rule. Some love it, some hate it, but only J-Dub and JFI are willing to take a swing at striking this issue out once and for all.
Issue #1: Baseball Rules Should be Uniform
I’ve decided that it seems pretty stupid to have a different set of rules for both leagues. No other sport does this. The rules in the NFL are the same for the AFC and the NFC. The Western Conference in the NBA may have a different style of play, but the rules are still the same as in the East. So why should baseball be different? Back in the days before Inter-league Play, it was fine to have the DH in one league and not the other, but now with the lines completely blurred and an Inter-league game being played almost every day, it only makes sense to even the playing field and have the same rules apply to both sides.
The way it is now, the DH is used in American League home parks, and not used in National League home games. This is unfair to both sides, but especially the American League. When they go to a National League park, they have to make a decision of either taking what is if not their best hitter, then at least one of their 3 best out of the games, or, run the risk of putting him somewhere in the field, thus hurting their defense. It also hurts the NL teams too, although to a lesser extent. I believe the DH position isn’t something every player can just do. I think they can probably adapt to it over time, but not in a 3 game series. NL teams aren’t built with a DH in mind.
I actually agree with this. The distinction between the separate leagues is gone, and has been so for close to two decades now. It’s actually time to consider scrapping the AL-NL model entirely and re-align baseball into regionally-based divisions; after all, the whole point was to get match-ups like Cubs-White Sox, Yankees-Mets, and Dodgers-Angels. It’s time to simply embrace that idea all the way, instead of doing half-assed shit like the DH.
Most importantly,while it may seem counter-intuitive, the designated hitter only furthers that weakening of the game. If you doubt that, ask yourself a question. The Pro-DH crowd hangs their hat on the idea that hitting for pitchers creates more offense in baseball. Granted, the DH may have been the first of many attempts to do so, but it was certainly the least effective. The DH started in 1973, and yet the era that everybody discusses as the “era of the offensive explosion” didn’t happen for two more decades.
There’s SEVERAL reasons for that. Look at what happens after 1993 in baseball. First, there’s expansion. Over the next five years, baseball would add four teams, which means there were 50 new pitchers in the majors who wouldn’t have been there previously. Add to that the 90s were the hey-day of the exceptionally hitter-friendly strike zone; you know, the one which was belt-high, right over the plate, and about the size of a sheet of printer paper. Add to that the spate of new hitter-friendly ballparks which began coming around in the 90s.
Lastly, for those of you so inclined, this is where you get to toss in that whole “steroid” thing. If the DH did what it was supposed to do, then baseball wouldn’t have needed “the steroid era” after the 1994 strike, and baseball wouldn’t need to pretend it is “getting tough” on performance-enhancing drugs now.
In other words, a lot of the pro-DH people are also the anti-steroid crowd, and let’s face it…while they have serious differences, they are both borne of a want to add more offense to baseball, which really isn’t necessary.
You’ll see what I mean as we walk through this.
Issue #2: Pitchers Can’t Hit
Yes, there are a few pitchers that can hit. A FEW. The majority of them look like me when I was about 13 and they started throwing curve balls. I see so many times a team gets a little rally going at the end of the batting order, and here comes the pitcher. Rally killed. Nowadays they can’t even get a bunt down properly. To me, it’s more of a nuisance than game strategy.
I’m so glad we got right to this one, because it is complete commie-pinko horseshit. Yeah, pitchers can’t hit now because we don’t make them hit. Don’t give me this shit about pitchers who can’t bunt there’s only about three guys in all of baseball who can. Take every pitcher in baseball and give them 30 minutes a day at the cage in spring training, and by Opening Day, every one of them could bunt. The fact is we’ve been screwing with pitchers for 50 years, and dumbasses who buy into the “pitcher can’t hit” argument are just extensions of the fucktards who created this problem in the first place.
We completely coddle pitchers, and it’s been happening for half a century. Doubt that? Consider the following.
You have to understand how we got the DH rule, and what expanding it means. First, the DH rule is the poster-child for this complete bullshit idea that baseball needs to “change” to be more “interesting to fans.” That load of crap has been floating in the sports media septic tank for close to 50 years. As I’ve pointed out before, both baseball and football have their strongholds of popularity in this country.
On top of that, baseball has one thing football would kill for…global growth potential. Nobody outside of North America gives a shit a bout what we call “football,” while baseball is growing steadily in popularity in Europe and is surging in Asia. Not to mention the Latin/Carribean factor. As the population of this country becomes more Hispanic, there are more people coming here from countries where baseball is massive.
In other words, baseball doesn’t need gimmicks like the DH.
Just look at the NFL for a classic example of this mentality gone to its logical and misguided conclusion. Football fans fell and continue to fall for the “fan interest/experience” argument which the NFL uses to justify just about every fundamental change it has made. It started with instant replay, and now we have a league which can’t figure out what a fucking catch is. The potential for bloated and ineffective use along with my conviction it wouldn’t solve the problem were my original objections to instant replay in baseball, and guess what? Even the slack-jawed mouthbreather fans of the NFL who worshipped at the altar of instant replay now admit they created a monster.
The Designated Hitter has exactly the same problems, and in a lot of ways most people don’t think of immediately.
This all starts in 1968 when the jerk-offs who become the pro-DH crowd start crying about the dominance of pitching. Bob Gibson posts an ERA of 1.12 and Carl Yasztremski wins a batting title with an average of .301, and the “baseball is too slow/boring/doesn’t have enough scoring” movement is born.
Then, these ass-clowns get the self-righteous attitude they can “fix” baseball. Then in 1969, baseball gets it worst commissioner EVER, Bowie Kuhn. There’s a host reasons why in his essential baseball book “Ball Four” Jim Bouton described Kuhn as “detrimental to baseball;” the one that matter here is Kuhn bought into the “we’ve got to fix baseball” twaddle. Don’t forget that baseball is by far the most popular sport in this country at the time.
The first thing Kuhn and his legion of asswipes did was to lower the pitcher’s mound. The idea behind this was to take away some of the advantage pitcher’s had in terms of generating velocity and the angle of delivery, thus helping hitters to produce more offense.
It didn’t work. This will be common theme for shit Kuhn and his ilk did.
But what it did do was force pitchers to change their mechanics. Guys who had been working off 15-inch mounds now were dealing with a 10-inch mound. This comp0letely changed the dynamics of pitching, and while hitters didn’t adjust to the flatter trajectory of incoming pitches, pitcher who now had less momentum generated by their bodies coming off the higher mound found more strain being placed on their arms, which led to a rise in injuries to pitchers. I’ll come back to that in a bit.
Since screwing with the mound didn’t produce the desired explosive growth, Kuhn and his cronies came up with the Designated Hitter rule. Don’t forget, at this time the American League and the National League are really separate entities, and it is the American League who with few exceptions had the smaller clubs in the smaller markets. They were eager to buy the “more offense brings more fans” horseshit; while the National League owners wanted nothing to do with it. Hence in 1973, the American League became the home of the DH, and it’s been a lesser brand of baseball ever since.
All along, the argument for the DH has been all about how putting a “regular” hitter in place of a “pitcher who can’t hit” would make for more offense in baseball, which in turn would improve the “fan experience.” Debunking that argument is easy. The real reason it didn’t do what it was suppposed to is also rather simple. Until recently, a team using a DH usually just threw at-bats at a regular bench guy, and even today, most teams don’t have a high-powered guy to put in that spot. The vast majority of DH at-bats go to some guy off the bench who barely hits better than a pitcher anyway.
Issue #3: The Effect The DH Has On Game Strategy
I know people say the National League manager has more strategy to think about. But really, a monkey can do a double switch, and what does that do for you? You have to take a starter out of the game and replace him with a bench player. Who wants to see more bench players deciding games at the end? Plus managers can actually evaluate their pitcher and not have to take a guy who’s pitching a good game out when he’s still capable of giving you another inning or two just on the outside chance that a pinch hitter coming into the game cold can deliver in the clutch. Hell, it might even cost you 2 players if the guy you sent up to pinch hit isn’t the guy you want to go into the field.
This is one of the best examples of a “straw-man” argument I’ve ever seen. A major portion as to why comes in the “Injury” part of this discussion, so keep that in mind later, since this part is about “strategy.” Nothing makes me laugh harder than when an “armchair” guy says shit like “a monkey can do a double switch.” When I hear that, I immediately know three things about the person who said it:
Not like I need more to be instantly dismissive of anything that person says, but there’s so many more important reasons to do so, I’d be remiss if I didn’t address them. Just look at the flawed suppositions used to construct that argument.
There’s really no other way to take that “monkey” comment. This is the same mentality of the crowd who thinks they could be an NFL Coach because they are good at a football video game. Second-guessing a guy who just got butt-banged by a decision that blew up on him is easy. People love to grab on to those failures and beat them to death; that’s really what takes zero skill. Baseball managers almost never get credit when a risk pays off, but they almost always get the blame when it doesn’t.
This is the one that blows the biggest whole in the “strategy” argument; American League managers pinch-hit all the fucking time, the difference being they just aren’t doing it for pitchers. Don’t even try to tell me that regardless of league, regardless of the spot in the order, managers in the 8th inning of a 3-2 ballgame don’t hit for a weak-hitting shortstop, or manage to that whole “righty v. lefty” thing, or just play a fucking hunch. American League managers burn bench players all the time doing that.
That’s pure bullshit. Like I’ve already said, Just look at who gets the majority of “DH” at-bats. Not every team has an aging bloated slugger with an artificially-extended career like David Ortiz. The vast majority of DH at-bats go to 4th outfielders and other bench jockeys, most of whom don’t hit much better than pitchers anyway. The average pitcher in the National League hits about .160. Baseball is full of guys who barely hit .230, and those guys get a shit-load of DH at-bats.
Look at it this way. The difference between a .160 and a .250 hitter in 300 at-bats is 20 hits. The average hit-to-earned run ratio for most teams is right around 3-1, which means the DH position is worth about 20 runs a season for most teams. That’s not exactly an “offensive explosion.”
As a Cubs fan, the last thing in the world I want to see is for Jake Arrieta to go up to the plate and take a 98 mph fastball off his dome and miss time. I know people will say if the pitcher doesn’t bat there are no repercussions if he hit a man while pitching. While I believe in pitching inside, which means occasionally somebody is going to get plunked, what I don’t believe in is intentionally throwing at anybody. That kind of crap is a different argument altogether. The bottom line is we have seen more than once in the postseason 1 man can make a difference. Pitchers are by nature already more susceptible to injury by nature. We don’t need to add to that risk by having them batting.
I can’t give a big enough “I should double-fist punch you right in your cunt” FUCK YOU to that shit. This is the classic “Soccer Mom/Commie-Pinko-Sissyfag” mentality which is turning this country into the biggest collection of wussies this side of the French Army. This is why we have “participation trophies” and an entire generation of soft-heads who need “safe spaces” so they aren’t hurt BY WORDS!
Pitchers are certainly more susceptible to injury now than they used to be, but that sure as fuck isn’t “by nature.” Dr, James Andrews, the guy who invented “Tommy John” surgery recently said that “specialization” is leading to a spike in youth sports injuries. But if you read the article, there’s a piece where he discusses about the dangers of doing things “year-round” and it doesn’t take much to see the “vicious cycle’ which has been created.
Think about it. It starts with the lowered mounds, which we’ve already established put more strain on pitcher’s elbows. It all goes downhill from there. If you are a fan my age, you remember the days before pitch counts and horseshit stats like “quality starts.” A starting pitcher was expected to pitch into the seventh or eighth inning, and to give up less than three or four runs doing it. Now, a starter gets a “quality start” if he gets into the sixth inning with a lead.
Gone are the days of guys like Bert Blyleven, who threw 60 career shutouts and over 3,700 strikeouts with his “money pitch” being the notoriously elbow-shredding curveball. Blyleven would be the first guy to tell you about how the conditioning program fort pitchers has changed; they have been told to spend too much time on strength training and not enough time running and throwing. Blyleven always said pitchers starting having issues when they stopped running and playing long toss on their off-days. We treat pitchers like their arms are made of glass, when in fact it is the coddling that makes them fragile.
Am I the only one who noticed the idea of “preserving” pitchers has actually back-fired? Thirty years ago, “Tommy John” surgery was virtually unheard of. Now it is so commonplace soon you will be able to get it as part of a combo meal at McBurger Queen.
Don’t try to hand me some crap about “advances in medical technology” because that’s just the back-end of the argument. The front-end of the argument is those advances happened because modern pitchers blow their arms out because they aren’t properly developing the ability to pitch like their forebearers did. Can you imagine if you told modern pitching and conditioning coaches about the Warren Spahn – Juan Marichal 16-inning 1-0 duel in which both pitched a complete game. Today’s batting and conditioning coach would immediately throw holy water on you, grab their rosary beads, and immediately begin mumbling in Latin as they thought you were the Anti-Christ. The modern religion of pitcher coddling dictates that stuff just isn’t possible, yet Spahn and Marichal each threw somewhere around 250 pitches and never blinked an eye. That’s what starters did, they did it in four-man rotations, and they didn’t get hurt nearly as often as they do today.
Again, look at football and what “specialization” has d0ne to it. Guys now spend all their time pumping weights, and the NFL has half the padded, full-contact workouts it used to. Again, the idea was to protect players, and the exact opposite happened. 60 years ago, players played both ways, and damn near beat each other to death, and yet there were far fewer injuries in the NFL then as compared to today. I lost count as to how many times last year I saw NFL players blow a knee or shred an Achilles just running. They conditioned themselves into that fragility, and baseball is trotting down the same path. ”
Issue #5: Extended Careers
I can make a list a mile long of guys that played longer in the American League because of the DH. Paul Molitor got his World Series ring thanks to the DH. We may never have even seen “Big Papi” become a great hitter, and maybe the Red Sox don’t break their curse. This isn’t the forum for the DH as a Hall of Famer argument, but would Edgar Martinez have been the hitter he was without it? Even a young guy like Kyle Schwarber would be a perfect fit. It’s pretty obvious the guy can rake, but he’s a catcher by trade, and the Cubs have that spot well covered. Having the DH would just give National League teams more options.
Again, I’m an old National Leaguer. It’s not like I’ve always wanted a DH. My opinion has evolved, and the N.L. needs to evolve also. Pitching is the most important part of a baseball team. If you want to say a DH is a part time player, I can say that all pitchers are too. A bullpen guy never knows for sure if he’s playing on any given day, and a starter plays twice a week. I’d rather see them focusing on doing what they do. Pitch.
Here’s where the hypocrisy of this argument goes on full display. JFI exemplifies this with the fact that on one hand, he has a rant about how closers are over-rated, but on the other insists on trumpeting the value of guys who spend even less time on the field that even the quickest-working closer.
It’s very curious to note the guys he lists. Paul Molitor did get to baseball’s Nirvana of 3,000 hits, but Molitor played the majority of his career as a third baseman. The funny thing about Molitor is how he fucks up the anti-PED crowd; you know, the people who get all jacked up over steroids, but don’t seem to give a shit about the uber-stimulant cocaine.
Then there’s Edgar Martinez. Here’s a guy who was so brittle he would shred his hamstrings answering his phone. Nobody personified the DH who couldn’t do anything else other than hit more than Edgar Martinez. How many times did Mariners fans watch E-Mart get a crucial late-innings base-knock only to see them need to pinch-run for him because just thinking about going from 1st to 3rd on a single would land him on the 15-day disabled list? By the way, doesn’t that totally destroy the “DHs save your bench players” argument?
It damn sure does, and Martinez was the best example of that until David Ortiz came along. JFI talks about “extended careers;” what about guys who owe their entire career to being a DH? That would be Ortiz, who 95% of his appreciable career comes in Boston as a DH. The only thing he could do was hit, and he couldn’t even that before he got to Boston and started
main-lining the same horse testicle juice that Manny Ramirez was on doinking the ball the other way off the Green Monster.
If you don’t want to buy that, think of it this way. Ortiz is admittedly a big part of the BoSox offense, yet he spends less time on the field than anybody else. Do you know what that makes him? Major League Baseball’s version of a field goal kicker. Kickers are always a team’s leading scorer, they are easily replaced, and in the era of instant replay, there are penalty flags that spend more time on the field. This is another example of the commie bullshit that is “specialization.” The annual award given to the best kicker in college football is named after Lou ‘The Toe” Groza, an offensive tackle who did the place-kicking for the Cleveland Browns, and retired as the NFL’s all-time leading scorer.
When football was still played by men, they didn’t need kickers. The glorification of the designated hitter just means baseball is inching closer to the day when guys like Eddie Harris stop using Vagisil to put more break on their curveball because they need it for it’s intended purpose. Maybe John Gibbons was right the other day about baseball players wearing dresses.
NOTE: JFI’s remarks about Kyle Schwarber were written before his season-ending injury occurred, but rest assured, J-Dub will address that subject in the “Gloom and Despair” segment of the next episode of Radio J-Dub.
You can contact JFI at firstname.lastname@example.org or @jbhickle on Twitter. It’s J-Dubs blog, so if you cant figure out how to contact him from here, maybe you should be a designated hitter.