Baseball Crank
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April 7, 2005
BASEBALL: Dump the DH

Michele noted the dubious anniversary yesterday of the introduction of the DH. I had long tolerated the DH rule - and, more controversially the hybrid DH/no DH AL/NL setup - maybe just because it's what I grew up with. But I've recently come to the conclusion that, like Astroturf in outdoor parks, it's time for the DH to go. I have two major reasons for this.

Eliminating the DH would have two overdue beneficial effects. First, it would reduce the number and stress of pitches thrown by starting pitchers (it's easier to get past Al Leiter in the lineup than David Ortiz), improving the ability of pitchers to go deep in games and to stay healthy. Seeing more of the best starters and less of marginal middle relievers is good.

Second, the DH is an extra everyday player. The more everyday players, the more opportunities for some teams to spend more money and thus gain advantages solely through their financial position. This is especially true of DHs, who tend to be well-paid veterans rather than cheap rookies. (Of course, the fact that dumping the DH would reduce payrolls by eliminating well-paid jobs is precisely why the union would never let it happen).

In other words, eliminating the DH would mean better pitching and less economic inequality. It's time for the DH to go.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:30 AM | Baseball 2005 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

You missed the part about Ballplayers being SKILLED and about the good hitting pitchers not being able to show their skills other than pitching. The DH is a joke, why not DH for a shortstop? Why not bring in pinch runners too! How many hitters only know the Home Run trot yet, consistently finish the season with 0 Stolen Bases 0 attempts. The DH, has turned into a posistion that brings players into the league that can't field a position. This, in affect, has held back flip/flops in the batting order and managerial decision making. Thus, fringe players are not as valuable in the AL. Also a fringe player loses an oppurtunity because the DH takes a spot on the roster. Plus during inter-league play teams have a disadvantage because the strategy of the game changes. AL teams, because they now have pitchers who seldom ever touch a bat and potentially could lose their cleanup hitter and the NL teams, because their teams are designed with defensive replacements and not a thud for DH-ing. What is really sad is seeing little league baseball using the DH, excuse me, but has the DH grown so much that we now promote kids not to be the best they can. What's wrong with having to catch and field a ball? Could it be they can't afford to by a glove other than batting gloves?

Posted by: Glen Swanson at April 7, 2005 11:45 AM

I don't think there is a shortage of reasons to sump the DH, but your first seems like a bit of a stretch. Any evidence on that? From a casual glance, it seems that there are more young SPs with arm trouble in the NL, which runs counter to your theory. On the other hand, Dusty may skew all results.

Posted by: guy incognito at April 7, 2005 5:45 PM

Well, you'd have to look back over the 32 years' experience with the DH to get a systematic answer as to the direct line to pitching injuries. But it can't be difficult, as a start, to prove that the average DH sees more pitches than the average #9 hitter (even counting pinch hitters in with the pitchers) in the NL, and I'd bet a higher percentage of breaking balls as well, which put more strain on the arm.

Posted by: The Crank at April 7, 2005 5:52 PM

Early in my career, I hated the designated hitter and thought baseball should get rid of it. But toward the end of my career, I realized that it allows older players to play a few more years. Paul Molitor is a great example. If there were no DH, it would've been difficult for him to accomplish all he did later in his career. I'm a National League guy, so I personally like the NL style of play. As Lou Brock once said, "You gotta earn it." You can't hide in the NL; you have to go out and play defense in order to have the right to hit. But now that I'm coaching at San Diego State — we have a DH in college baseball — I like having that extra offensive guy in my lineup and the extra possibilities it gives me (like giving a guy a "day off" by making him the DH). I realize a lot of fans don't like the DH, but it's a chance for a guy like Rickey Henderson to play another year. It's great for players who've had success in the game, but maybe can't take the grind of playing a full season at the end of their careers. It allows them to stay in the game — and that's a good thing." - Tony Gwynn on ESPN.com (April 4, 2003)

Posted by: jim at April 7, 2005 6:42 PM

Very valid arguments, but I still like the DH. I like the fact that baseball is unique in playing two different sets of rules in the same sport. None of the other major sports do this and I think it adds something to the game. You dont hear about players adjusting to play when they switch from the NFC to the AFC or from the Eastern Conference to the Western Conference.

Posted by: Juskimo at April 8, 2005 1:25 AM

Get rid of it. Surely some part of baseball's appeal is the lineup juggling that goes on in the late innings of a close game. Not having the DH adds to the tension. Fact is the DH and steroids are related. People running baseball want more offense, especially by slugging, because they think it draws fans. Some day we'll have complete two platoon baseball with unlimited substitution, unless they decide to do away with the game altogether and just stage home run derbies.

Posted by: jim linnane at April 8, 2005 3:17 AM

I just wish MLB would decide to go one way or the other -- either DH in both leagues or no DH. I find it absolutely ridiculous that each league plays by separate rules, especially now that we have interleague play.

No offense Juskimo, but I do not wish to see the AFC allow the offense a 5th down while keeping only 4 in the NFC!

Posted by: philthyrat at April 8, 2005 11:23 AM
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