Last Update: 08 May 00
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REPLY #18 TO
(R) I notice a hole in your arguements. It stems from the fact that you seem to misunderstand one of the responces to your essay. The responce states something like "the most difficult decisions a manager has to make are in the 5th or 6th inning". Your responce was basically that a team had time to recover, so they weren't the most difficult decisions.
(MB) This was in Reply #1. My response was:
The difficult decisions are the ones made with the game on the line in the late innings, since there will be little or no opportunity to salvage the results of a bad choice. Decisions made in the middle of the game will contribute to the situation at the end of the game, to be sure, but you will always have 3 or more innings left to try to rectify the situation.
(R) What I think the intent of the message was is that EVEN IF those decisions in the 8th or 9th innings are no-brainers, the decisions that must be made in the 6th inning are not. You have to weigh in how much longer your pitcher will last, how good he is, how well he can hit, what kind of pinch hitter you have, and other aspects of the specific situation to make a pretty tough decision: whether you should take the pitcher out or leave him in. Not only that, but then if you leave the pitcher in, you must decide whether to have him hit or bunt.
(MB) The intent of my response was stated exactly as quoted above. Critical decisions are the ones you must get right because they are essentially "do or die". If a manager finds himself facing a real decision about whether or not he pinch-hits for the pitcher in the 5th or 6th inning, the only thing on his mind will be how effectively the pitcher is performing.
Let's face it, no manager in his right mind is going to take out a pitcher like Randy Johnson or Greg Maddux at that point of a game unless he's losing by a pile of runs -- and that could hardly be called a "critical" decision. The manager might well consider taking out a 4th or 5th starter at that point, but he's not expecting to get more than 6 innings of work out of that guy in the first place. Again, there's not much room for real strategy here. The other considerations you mentioned would barely even merit a moment's attention. The pitcher's hitting prowess isn't even a factor and any major league club who doesn't have a superior available pinch-hitter in the 5th inning of a game is in sorry shape, indeed.
(R) You say that you live in Georgia, like me, so you must be familiar with the hitting capabilities of pitchers like John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and many others like them. They make that decision even MORE difficult.
(MB) How? Atlanta is unique in having four front-line starters. They're not totally incompetent with the stick, but none of them hit for themselves in any situation where a pinch-hitter would normally be called for. None goes up there hacking away when it's time to lay down a bunt. None gets pitched to in the same way that real hitters get worked.
(R) I've even seen situations where good ole Bobby Cox put Tom Glavine in to pinch-hit for a pitcher! That's what I call strategy.
(MB) To put Bobby Cox and "strategy" together is a contradiction in terms. He consistently gets out-managed in the playoffs and is fortunate that he has the luxury of a loaded ball club. In the particular situation to which you refer, it was an extra-inning game where the only available position player was Rafael Belliard. Belliard is one of the weakest-hitting position players in the game, but is invaluable for his defensive versatility. You don't waste him as nothing more than a pinch-hitter in an extra-inning contest. Also, Belliard hits right-handed while Glavine is a lefty and that also came into play. Glavine was used simply because there was nobody else available.
(R) I also have to answer your arguement that the DH increases offence. If, for the last 100 years, the DH was used in every league, great hitting pitchers like the Babe and others may never have been discovered! I must say that not having Babe Ruth hit would detract from the game of baseball more than an extra .150 increase in batting average for one batter per team would.
(MB) Hitters on the scale of Babe Ruth are not going to slip through the cracks whether or not the DH is in use. For what it's worth, Babe Ruth is the only pitcher in the 20th century to hit more homers than he allowed.
(R) Also, like you say, the best little league athletes are pitchers. If the DH rule that you advocate is utilized, then you run a huge risk of having a great potential batter never approach the plate!
(MB) Nope. You forget that little league pitchers play other positions on the days when they aren't on the mound. I was one of them myself and played shortstop in between my turns on the hill. Truly great hitters will be discovered.
(R) Finally, I present un-mencioned (I think) arguements in favor of banning the DH.
1) The pitchers would rather hit than sit on the bench, especially the likes of Smoltz and Glavine.
(MB) Any major league player would rather hit than ride the bench. I'll bet that those same pitchers would just as soon have somebody else face Randy Johnson or Pedro Martinez, though. In any case, any pitcher who is a team player would prefer having a real hitter up there in his place.
(R) 2) It would be good for inter-league games, the all-star game, and the world series. It would take away excuses for the losing teams. (note: this arguement is against the status quo, not against universal DH)
(MB) Why would this be "good"? I assume that you think this hurts the American League teams, but I'm pretty sure that the Yankees may dispute this since they have won three of the last four World Series -- twice beating the "brilliant strategist" Bobby Cox.
(R) 3) Even if the "average" fan would like more offence and less strategy, the huge majority of the biggest, most rabid baseball fans would rather see great strategy and be able to question managers' decisions than to see a brainless slugfest night after night.
(MB) The problem with that argument is that there are just as many "brainless slugfests" in the DH-less National League as there are in the American League. As far as what the most rabid fans want to see, I'm confident that most would rather *not* see yet another rally snuffed out by the futile flailings from the 9th spot in the batting order. Fans go to the ballpark to see the players play and not to see the managers manage. They want to see Big Mac pound out 500-foot homers and the Big Unit blow away 18 overmatched hitters. They don't start chanting, clapping and singing when Bobby Cox waddles out of the dugout to execute the double switch that everybody already knows is coming.
(R) 4) The DH justifies things like having completely separate sets of defencive and offencive players! Hey, the same arguements you make would apply just as much. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think you want that.
(MB) The DH justifies no such thing. It has one purpose and one purpose only -- to get rid of the pathetic hitting attempts of the pitcher and keep his role the purely defensive part of the game that it is meant to be. Everybody else must contribute both ways.
(R) 5) I'm pretty sure that a majority vote of owners, managers, and players (excluding the actual DHs) would come up in favor of banning the DH.
(MB) Owners would vote for banning it because it would save them salary money. Managers seem to be split on the issue with the only arguments in favor of banning it being the old, tired "strategy" non-issues. Players are almost all in favor of keeping it.
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