Last Update: 15 Aug 00
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REPLY #19 TO
(R) While you make a plausible argument for the DH, I still must disagree. I am hesitant to compare the DH with other sports, because baseball is unique from other sports.
(MB) All sports have their own points of uniqueness. However, they all also have similarities which allow for points of comparison. My point was that all team sports which have one player who performs a unique and critical function also have rules which deal specifically and preferentially with that position. The DH is such a rule.
(R) Having a DH, produces the 17-15 slugfests that are so common now.
(MB) That argument is not supportable. So far in the 2000 season (through games of May 6), American League teams have combined to produce 11.0 runs and 2.61 homers per game while National League teams have combined to produce 10.4 runs and 2.56 homers per game. Six-tenths of a run and five-hundredths of a homer per game are hardly the stuff which produces any perceived overabundance of slugfests. Also, this argument will have to address why there should be so many similar slugfests in the DH-less National League.
Also, what's so terrible about a slugfest? Shouldn't good hitting be appreciated just as much as good pitching, good fielding or any other skillful performance in a baseball game? Would those who denigrate increased scoring prefer that we go back to the dead ball era or that we turn baseball into the offensive equivalent of fast-pitch softball? Good pitching still shuts down good hitting even in today's baseball. You don't see any 17-15 slugfests when Randy Johnson or Pedro Martinez are on the mound. It's the marginal-to-awful 4th and 5th starters which most teams have to throw out there who serve up the majority of the meatballs to today's salivating hitters. This happens in *both* major leagues and has nothing to do with the presence of the DH.
Finally, my criteria for a good game is one which is close and competitive. A 17-15 slugfest and a 3-1 pitchers' duel are equally close games. There's an equal amount of excitement in each as fans agonize over which team will overcome or subdue the other's strengths in order to pull out the win. Baseball needs both types of games and it generally delivers.
(R) While I am not discounting the technological advances made in sports, which have undoubtedly had a hand in the current state of scoring in baseball today, the DH is as much a contribtuting factor.
(MB) What statistical evidence supports that position? Increased scoring is undeniably a general characteristic of modern baseball more than a side-effect of the DH.
(R) I may be in the minority, but I enjoy the flawless execution of the hit and run, more than the home run trot.
(MB) Since pitchers almost never execute the hit-and-run while they are at the plate, how would the elimination of the DH have any effect on your enjoyment of that play or on the amount of times you'd get to see it? In fact, I would argue that the presence of the DH would present teams with *more* opportunities to execute the hit-and-run since teams can't rely on issuing the incredibly-exciting intentional walk to the 8th-place hitter in order to bring the hapless pitcher to the plate to kill yet another potential rally and disappoint the fans.
(R) You also seemed to miss the other end of the spectrum with regards to the DH; that being the fact the DH does not have to field either. This allows for horrendous fielders and/or broken-down veterans, both of which have no business playing, to be slotted into someone's everyday lineup.
(MB) Many pitchers are also incapable of fielding and/or running. How is their effectively one-dimensional contribution different or better than that of the DH? Your argument only reinforces my point that the pitcher is purely a defensive spot on the team. Let's also not forget that there are still plenty of horrendous fielders and broken-down vets still playing on National League teams. If they were able to DH, they could still contribute to their teams in a positive way while also permitting a younger and/or more capable player to get playing time while the fans are spared the spectacle of the pitcher's futile efforts at the plate. It would seem to be a good deal all the way around with no downside.
(R) The Los Angeles Dodgers have to deal with the handicap of having someone like Todd Hundley catching for them, because while he hits well, he throws out runners about as well you or I.
(MB) How is the game "improved" by having to play such a player in the field as opposed to having the option of using him as a DH to take advantage of his hitting ability? Also, by playing Hundley, the Dodgers have decided (as do most teams) that offensive ability outweighs defensive liabilities. They figure that he will produce more runs at the plate than he will surrender in the field.
(R) The Seattle Mariners, in contrast are able to trot out Edgar Martinez, a fantastic hitter, that with two bad knees is not able to play the field with any regularity.
(MB) I'm sure most people would agree that Seattle games have been improved by the ability to put such a top-notch hitter in the starting lineup on a daily basis. Actually, Martinez is an exception rather than the general rule. Full-time DHs who never play in the field (either by choice or by necessity) are few and far between. Harold Baines is the only other example who comes immediately to mind.
(R) Now, I am from Seattle, and while I love the Mariners and Edgar, I cannot, with good conscience, justify his presence in the lineup.
(MB) Why not and who would you prefer to see instead of Edgar Martinez? Would it be better to see John Halama, Jamie Moyer, or Brett Tomko hit for themselves? How would this improve Seattle Mariners games?
(R) In conclusion, the pitcher is only looked at as a defensive-only position, BECAUSE of the presence of the DH.
(MB) The nature of the pitcher has been looked on that way since *long* before the inception of the DH since the pitcher's "contribution" at the plate has never meant anything compared to what he does on defense.
(R) Shortstops, like Ozzie Smith for example, weren't looked upon to produce much offense in the past. It's a good thing they weren't allowed to sit him down. He hit .303 in 1987.
(MB) That's merely a part of the evolution of modern baseball. It has only been in recent years with the rise to prominence of such shortstops as Larkin, Rodriguez, Jeter, Ripken and Garciaparra that shortstops have become an integral part of the offense in addition to their role in anchoring the infield defense. However, in the days of poor hitting shortstops, all of them were still much better hitters than pitchers have ever been or ever will be.
Ozzie Smith developed into a decent hitter later in his career through the experience of a couple thousand games and many thousands of at-bats. No pitcher will ever get the same experience -- and nobody will ever care that he doesn't. Let him do his job in the field and let a real hitter go to the plate in his place. The game will be better off for it.
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