REPLY #13 TO
are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.
prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.
My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text
and are prefaced by my initials (MB)
(R) I came across your opinion of the D.H. on your site, and I can only say
that I disagree with you on almost every point.
(MB) Fair enough. Let's see what you've got to
(R) You not the main argument against the DH as being that it removes
strategy...this is not so! If you know anything about the DH's history, you know
it was created to increase scoring...now scoring is at the point where it's
considered a problem, as it's far too high...
(MB) I'm old enough to have been a baseball fan since a
decade prior to the inception of the DH, so I'm well aware of the history of the
game and of the rule. Increased scoring was not the primary reason for the
adoption of the rule. It was 1969 when baseball made its rules changes that
were intended to increase scoring in the wake of the infamous "Year of the
Pitcher" in 1968. Those rules changes lowered the pitching mound and redefined
a smaller strike zone. The DH rule was adopt as obvious that it would produce
more offense by replacing a pitcher with a real hitter, but the 1969 rule
changes had a much bigger effect since they affected *every* hitter in the
lineup instead of just one. The DH is primarily designed to correct the
often-laughable spectacle of a pitcher attempting to hit. There was also a side
concern about the pitcher getting injured while on offense by getting hit by a
pitch, fouling a ball off his foot, stumbling around the bases, etc.
One can't blame the DH rule for the current explosion in
scoring since the rule has been in place for 26 years while football-type
scoring is a phenomenon of the 1990's. Also, how do you explain the increase in
scoring in the DH-free National League? There are many factors other than the
DH that have led to the offensive fireworks in today's game. Extensive
expansion with the concurrent dilution of quality pitching is probably the
single biggest contributing factor. The ever-shrinking strike zone and th e
increased strength conditioning of hitters are also major players. It should be
rather obvious that the DH is not the difference between 2-1 and 11-10
Also, one has to question why increased scoring is
considered to be a "problem". The excitement of baseball is in a close and
competitive contest and not in one where runs are hard to come by. I write this
response on 20 Oct 99, and last night's NLCS finale is a great case in point.
The final score saw Atlanta beat the Mets, 10-9 in 11 innings, and it was one
of the most exciting games of the year. Needless to say, this game produced 19
runs *without* any DH in use. I submit that the high scoring actually
enhanced the excitement of that game since neither team could feel safe even
with a five-run lead. They still had to play as if every at-bat and every run
was crucial. That is what makes for a memorable game. I well remember the
"good old days" of 1968 when a 2-0 lead was often all but insurmountable and
teams could sit on such leads much as they do in soccer or hockey. Do we really
want baseball to return to that?
(R) Also, there is DEFINETLY more strategy involved with the pitcher
batting! It's not as simple as taking your pitcher out when he's struggling
anymore...you have to weigh your options as a manager...how important is it to
lift your pitcher for a pinch hitter? Is it worth it? You have to think
ahead...you can't tell me that doesn't add to the game. And it's not easy to
tell whether or not your bullpen will hold the lead...it gets to the point where
you have to weigh how certain you are that they can, against the odds that your
pinch hitter will come through.
(MB) This is called "strategy", but real "strategy" comes
when you have something other than no-brainer decisions to make. Let's face it.
Almost every decision that a manager makes in regards to pinch-hitting for a
pitcher is automatic and simple. This is not "strategy". You and I and any
other non-trivial fan of the game could make all of these decisions easily in
any circumstance. There is absolutely no such decision that is so
nerve-wracking or brilliant that it overrides the improvement that comes from
putting a real hitter in the lineup in place of the pitcher.
(R) I fully admit that pitchers are futile when it comes to batting, but
some of them are fairly decent, and the addition in strategy makes it
worthwhile. Above all though, keep in mind why the DH was created...to increase
scoring...since then, baseball has gotten more than it can handle.
(MB) Some pitchers are "decent" hitters as compared to
what? The history of baseball has shown conclusively that even the best hitting
pitchers are much less productive at the plate than any position player. In
fact, using the Total Average stat and grouping all hitters by position, we find
that the difference between the best and worst hitting positions (1B and SS,
respectively) is still less than the difference between the worst hitting
position and the pitcher. As if any additional proof was needed, consider that
only 9 pitchers in the last 50 years have produced as many as 10 runs in any
single season (according to Total Baseball's Batting Runs stat). It would
appear, therefore, that pitchers can only be considered to be "decent" hitters
when compared against other pitchers.
Does today's baseball really generate more scoring that
it can handle? I don't think one can make a good case in support of such a
claim. Certainly, the fans respond very positively to the home run feats of
Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, as well as to the assaults on the RBI record by
Manny Ramirez and Juan Gonzalez. Even in this time of increased offense, 1999
still witnessed a pitcher (Pedro Martinez) produce the third-greatest individual
season of all time. We've also seen perfect games in consecutive years along
with Randy Johnson's assault on the all-time single season strikeout record.
Good pitching still beats good hitting. It's just that expansion and the
universal usage of 5-man rotations has given us too many *bad* pitchers.
Abolishing the DH rule will not correct that.