Saturday, April 18, 2009

Zen Dayley: Designated hypocrisy...

The next stop along the Long Tail could be a blog that tracks pitchers getting injured trying to hit.

The St. Louis Cardinals lost their ace, Chris Carpenter, after the lifetime .091 hitter injured himself while batting. Future Hall of Famer Tom Glavine, at age 43, might never pitch again after injuring his shoulder while batting in a minor-league game.

It Is About The Money, Stupid, have noted that this has been an occasional column trope for more than a year. It does no harm to join the chorus. Watching National League pitchers try to hit, and putting up with the craven semi-intentional walk to the No. 8 hitter whenever he comes up with two out and first base open, harkens back to H.L. Mencken's line about he hated sports as rabidly as those who like sports hate common sense,

Rob Neyer of had his say, "I still say the game's just a little more interesting if there's a difference between the leagues. So, no."

There is some truth to that. College football often has more novelty than the NFL, since on a given Saturday, you can see one team trying to move the ball with the run-oriented option or and another using a pass-wacky offence like Texas Tech's. The difference there is you're seeing different approaches to doing something well.

Pitchers hitting goes against that grain. Think about it. Tom Glavine, over the run of his 20-plus season, has had a rep for knowing how to handle a bat. His career average is .186, with a sub-McGlovin .454 on-base-plus-slugging (OPS). This is a good-hitting pitcher. Like Jason at IIABTMS says:
"I'd rather watch a skilled hitter work against the opposing pitcher. I think a league with uniform rules is better than a league with half the teams playing by different rules. Especially a rule as major as the DH, particularly when it comes to the World Series."
There is some mild hypocrisy on the part of the National League dinosaurs. The DH is used in the minor leagues, except when two NL-affiliated teams play each other, so they don't mind using it for the purpose of player development. NL teams regularly use the DH during spring training games.

Baseball tends to be progressive as a business (case in point: the MLB Network, not that we'll ever know in Canada, thanks again, Rogers) while liking the illusion of permanency on the diamond. Don't expect the National League to add the DH. Even borrowing the minors' rules, which allow the DH to be used in all interleague games, is probably too radical.

That doesn't mean we can't point out this idiocy, time and agan.

Damn, the Jays

  • One game never proves a whole lot, but you could have set your watch to the Jays coming from ahead to lose 8-5 to Oakland on Friday. It just felt like an evenout was due after that 8-3 start fashioned against the AL Central, and the Jays have lost the season series. vs. the Athletics in seven of the past 10 seasons.


Ron Rollins said...

Have you ever seen Tony Pena try to hit major league pitching?

Anonymous said...

Having grown up with the NL, with Seattle now my team (it's close, and a great town), I'll still find the AL-DH game pretty dull in the fact that NOTHING EVER HAPPENS. A team who's not hitting, just keeps running up the 9 starters until they run out of outs. Having to pinch-hit for the pitcher often seems to shake the game up a bit and something usually happens. Doesn't happen in the AL. There's NO reason the pitchers shouldn't bat. I also often wonder why the AL didn't just have 8 players bat. Or why you couldn't have a DH rule that allowed the DH to hit the first 3 times around the order, 4th time the pitcher is obliged to hit. That would keep the strategy that NL fans like, and would not subject the AL fans to much (if any) pitcher at-bats. Only if the guy's going to pitch a complete game would he bat. Otherwise, the double-switches and strategy comes back into the game for the late innings. Would allow teams to use their depth (and expose lack of it), and we'd see who the real strong teams were......

sager said...

I kind of like your idea ... maybe we say you can use a DH in the first six innings.

How would that work, though? Would the DH have to be in the 9-hole ... or would at the end of the sixth inning, would he have to assume a fielding position, with the the pitcher going into the lineup?

The reason they probably didn't go to an 8-man lineup was probably b/c they saw a 9-man lineup as sacrosanct. An 8-man lineup would mean probably mean about an extra 75-80 at-bats for an everyday player, and then you get into concerns about all-time records for RBI, hits and home runs being threatened.

I'm not saying those must be protected at all costs, I'm just trying to see the logic.

Frankly, as a guy that does the agate for the newspaper, I like the DH for one reason — it's easier to compile a boxscore! :)

Thanks for your comment, made my day.