Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
October 25, 2007
BASEBALL: The DH Issue

After last night's thrashing, the Red Sox served notice that the Rockies' hot streak will most likely not, all by itself, decide the Series. But with David Ortiz cracking a single and two doubles and Colorado batting its 0-for-2 DH ninth, the issue of the home park DH rule - on top of the fact that Colorado and Boston traditionally are unique parks that lend significant home-field advantages (the BoSox were 6 games better at home this season; the Rockies were 12 games better, and had a losing road record, as they almost always do) - may be bigger than it has been in years. I'd say there are pretty strong odds that the Rockies will win the Series if and only if they take all three games in Colorado.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure there really is a better answer as long as the two leagues are playing by fundamentally different rules. The irony is that in almost every other way - especially with the advent of interleague play - the lines between the two leagues has been blurring in recent years, the sense that there are separate league offices, different umpiring styles and a real rivalry between the leagues' players and fans all having evaporated.

As I have said a number of times, while I'd like to see the DH eliminated (I don't hate it as much as older traditionalists do, but we can do better without it), the problem with the split DH system is economic: an everyday DH makes more money than an equivalent bench player. Thus, the NL owners won't budge on adding it; thus, the Players' Union won't budge on removing it from the AL.

UPDATE: Cheer up, Rockies fans! The Red Sox became the fourth team to win Game One of the World Series by 10 runs or more, joining the 1959 White Sox (11-0), the 1982 Brewers (10-0), and the 1996 Braves (12-1). None of them won the Series.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:23 AM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

"After last night's thrashing, the Red Sox served notice that the Rockies' hot streak will most likely not, all by itself, decide the Series."

Not necessarily, if anything, after a 9 day layoff the streak is an albatross. Love the Rox, but they never had a chance. It is over, enjoy jim.

Posted by: abe at October 25, 2007 11:28 AM

Does it really entertain you to see an unskilled hitter flail at the ball ~twice a game? I think baseball's revenues would increase if they simply removed this unskilled liability from all parts of the game. The NL owners are fools if they do not believe this and oppose the dh because they would somehow have to give up revenue.

Posted by: joe at October 25, 2007 1:13 PM

Watching Ortiz hobble around the basepaths last night, I was thinking the Sox may be better off with him coming off the bench as a Pinch Hitter in Colorado. The franchise has a pretty painful history with banged up players playing first base in the World Series.

At one point in the early innings, he was on first, Manny was up with a full count, and then fouled off a slew of pitches. I am sure Ortiz was ready to keel over, running on each pitch. And of course, he went on to round the base paths a few more times that night.

Posted by: Patrick at October 25, 2007 1:26 PM

While I believe the Red Sox are a vastly superior team to the Rockies somewhere along the lines of John McEnroe vs. Chris Lewis at Wimbledon it does not mean this is over. The Sox won a game. They need to win 3 more. Baseball is unique in pro sports in that a high percentage of the time a lesser team wins a series. In basketball it is a true rarity as it is in the NFL playoffs. While I like tonight's match up I take nothing for granted. I have been a Sox fan for 33 years and while 2004 definitely changed the way I look at things I still know that weird stuff happens, not just to the Sox but just in general.

I think the big difference in the quality of play between the two leagues has a lot to do with the DH and while things may be cyclical I think the NL will be hard pushed to come up to the overall level of the AL without having a DH. Last night is a perfect example; even while having the opportunity to have a player hit in place of the pitcher the Rockies simply don't have any position player that is of AL DH quality. Clearly even few AL teams have a David Ortiz caliber guy there but they usually have someone that does not need to hit 9th. Times have changed, baseball struggles to attract new fans (and why do they shoot themselves in the foot with the way they schedule their games? I have no idea how you East Coasters do it with games starting at 8:30 at night) and double switches and .122 hitting pitchers constantly laying down 1-out bunts does not appeal to a newer generation of sports watchers.

Posted by: jim at October 25, 2007 3:36 PM

Upsets are pretty common in the NHL as well.The primary reason is,of course,because more than any other sport,in hockey a single player can effect the outcome of a series(up until recently it also had alot do with the way games were called in the playoffs, which led to more interference,holding,and a generally more physical style of play,allowing less talented players to level the ice,so to speak).Pitchers in baseball come close to having that effect,the difference being that a hot goaltender can come back night after night,while pitchers need their 3 or 4 days rest (which raises the question, why the hell was Beckett left in for the seventh inning?)Nevertheless,one or two guys can change a short baseball series and carry an inferior team.
I think the big difference in the quality of the two leagues has more to do with the quality of the players than the DH and the NL is well positioned presently.Much of the young talent in baseball is in the National League right now.That being said,even though I'm an AL fan,I don't like the DH.Among other reasons,I like the fact that NL managers are forced to earn a little of their pay.

Posted by: AnonE.Mouse at October 25, 2007 7:19 PM

Well, they could give the All Star game even more meaning than home field, which is big. How about which rules to play by for all seven games?

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at October 25, 2007 7:52 PM

Yeah, the NHL. I was referring to actual professional sports. I am a former hockey player and one time, long time Boston Bruins fan. No longer. The NHL runs itself like a rinky-dink league these days and is sort of hard to take seriously. That's a whole 'nother topic. However, the point is well taken that goalies and pitchers are similar in their unique sense that one certain individual can have a profound effect on a game and series generally beyond the scope of any other position.

Posted by: jim at October 25, 2007 9:15 PM

On the topic of DH...Why are there DA's (designated announcers) during the playoffs? Shouldn't the two teams in the playoffs get to hear their own home town announcers broadcast the games? If I lived in Denver I wouldn't want to hear Joe Buck and Tim M announce the game. With today's technology fans should be able to hear the hometown announcers and let the rest of the country hear the network appointed voices. For that matter all viewers should be able to choose from all three potential announcers: the home team's, the visiting team's, and the network announcers.
Any comments or I ideas?

Posted by: joe at October 25, 2007 10:04 PM

You mean Joe "Helton was never aided by Coors" Buck? We've been (ahem) blessed by some really awful announcers this year. I know there is only one Vin Scully, but damn, couldn't someone at least try to copy him?

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at October 25, 2007 10:54 PM

We actually do get to hear the local radio announcers here, and if the local ESPN affiliate reached east of downtown at night, we could choose between the homers & Jon Miller. As for the TV announcers, so few games are broadcast on TV that I don't think most Denverites could recognize their voices, anyway.

Posted by: Joshua Sharf at October 26, 2007 9:31 AM

Not to stray too far off-topic,but I also played(early days of the CCHA)and still skate once a week,so hockey is near-and-dear and it's bothersome to see the NHL referred to as non-professional,however tongue-in-cheek. I think many of the problems of the NHL have been caused by Gary Bettman and his ill advised rule changes as well as his forays into non-traditional markets.As a Wings fan,I can say with some confidence that most in Detroit would be thrilled to have an Original Six division so that we could see the Bruins as frequently as we're forced to watch the Coyotes or Blue Jackets.
I agree about the Fox announcers,joe.They live down to the standards guys like O'Reilly and Hannity establish on their sister network.The guy who did the WTBS games was not bad,however.I spent a couple years living in SoCal and can say with some authority that Vin Scully was great,almost the equal of Ernie Harwell.

Posted by: AnonE.Mouse at October 26, 2007 9:32 AM

After you here Jerry Remy call a Sox game you are ruined for anyone else, especially the talking airheads Fox, et. al throws out there. I have had to listen to the games on radio and I get John Miller and Joe Morgan and that is painful.

I am a bit jaded on hockey. I rooted for the Bruins for years knowing that they were a cheapskate (ha ha) organization that only cared about filling up the Gah-den and that as long as they put a semi-decent team on the ice with at least one star (Ray Bourque carried that mantle for many years) they were fine. Then they traded Joe Thornton during the middle of the season and he went on the be the freaking MVP of the league. Only time in ANY sport that has happened. I was done with them at that point. If we got an NHL team here in Portland I would go to games. I love hockey but hate seeing what they have done to themselves.

Posted by: jim at October 26, 2007 12:36 PM

Don't give up.It could be worse-you could be a Blackhawks fan.
The Thornton trade was inexplicable.I've been waiting a long time for someone to do something as stupid as the Red Wings trading away Marcel Dionne.

Posted by: AnonE.Mouse at October 26, 2007 4:53 PM

I love hockey and I really love basketball (great sport, maybe the best -- certainly the most enjoyable to play), but I literally can't watch the NHL or the NBA.

Just awful products, bearing occasional resemblance to the sports they supposedly sell.

And with the constant video booth delays and un-reviewable judgment calls, I sometimes feel like the NFL is going in the same direction.

MLB is the only league in which they play something that even looks like its signature sport.

Posted by: Mike at October 27, 2007 10:11 AM
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