Night Owl Mk. II

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Boldfaced statements are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.

Italicized/emphasized 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 say...

(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 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 games.
    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 have to weigh your options as a important is it to lift your pitcher for a pinch hitter? Is it worth it? You have to think 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 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 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.

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