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Monday, April 27, 2015

Pitchers batting is dumb and the DH should be universal | HardballTalk

Watching pitchers hit is like watching the bathing suit competition in a senior citizen beauty pageant.

Jim Furtado Posted: April 27, 2015 at 08:43 AM | 402 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: designated hitters, rules of play

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   201. . Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:54 PM (#4941437)
You're missing the real argument. It's not about spreadsheets tallies. It's about what those tallies support, which is that pitchers are simply not evaluated one whit on their ability to hit. It simply is not a factor. It has absolutely no basis on their job security. The numbers simply back that position up.

I'm hitting the real argument. People care more about the spreadsheets being out of balance than they do having to watch pitchers hit for about 7 minutes per game. (Pitchers don't hit five times per game; they typically hit 2-3). If they cared about the actual hitting part, they'd be trying to explain the aesthetic differences between watching pitchers hit, and slow, shitty baserunners run the bases, or slow, shitty fielders bungle around like oafs. But instead they're simply turning to the spreadsheets and prattling on about the aggregate differences the spreadsheets reflect.
   202. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:54 PM (#4941438)
That's precisely the point! Despite similar overall value, the better pitcher stayed in the rotation while the superior hitter moved to the pen and became a curiosity: A mop up man who can occasionally pinch hit.


The point is that the team preferred to use a pitcher who was healthy enough to play, rather than a pitcher who wasn't?

What does that have to do with the DH? Position players who spend too much time on the DL tend not to get their contracts picked up the next year, either.
   203. Shredder Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:55 PM (#4941441)
I've never seen a punter play quarterback, but I have seen a quarterback punt, and it was tremendously entertaining.
I'd venture to guess you see punters passing the ball about as often as you see quarterbacks punt. Danny White notwithstanding.
   204. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:55 PM (#4941442)
Reiterating: last year, NL pitchers as a whole had a .312 OPS. In the entire history of baseball, no position player ever had a season of as many as 150 PA with an OPS that low.
   205. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:55 PM (#4941443)
For all of the talk about balance and symmetry, why isn't anyone arguing that players should be asked to do nearly everything? Why not cut rosters in half? Little League teams do OK with just 12-14 players. Sometimes a guy plays third base, sometimes he pitches, sometimes he catches. I mean, if you really want to be pure about it, why set aside an entire class of players as simply pitchers?


That actually sounds kind of cool.

The union would never stand for it, though, so it's a dead letter.
   206. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:56 PM (#4941445)
You're missing the real argument. It's not about spreadsheets tallies. It's about what those tallies support, which is that pitchers are simply not evaluated one whit on their ability to hit. It simply is not a factor. It has absolutely no basis on their job security. The numbers simply back that position up.


The ironic thing is that marginal relief pitchers COULD be chosen based on their ability to hit, since there's such a large supply of otherwise undifferentiated relievers, but there is no opportunity for them to hit unless a game is going into 15 innings.
   207. Kiko Sakata Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:57 PM (#4941446)
It's about what those tallies support, which is that pitchers are simply not evaluated one whit on their ability to hit. It simply is not a factor. It has absolutely no basis on their job security. The numbers simply back that position up.


But that position does not lead logically and inexorably to a position on the DH debate. Pitchers are, with very, very few exceptions, very, very bad at hitting and pitchers' playing time and salaries are, again, with very, very few exceptions, completely independent of their hitting ability. This is true and largely not in dispute in this thread. People who like DH-less baseball like DH-less baseball in spite - or, even, because - of that. I think that Baldrick's #169 is an excellent description of the DH argument. I disagree with his next-to-last paragraph (where he ends up pro-DH), but that just amounts to us making different subjective decisions: he's not "wrong" there.
   208. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:58 PM (#4941447)
Reiterating: last year, NL pitchers as a whole had a .312 OPS. In the entire history of baseball, no position player ever had a season of as many as 150 PA with an OPS that low.


Yeah, those seven points of OPS that separate it from Bill Bergen's 1909 are a hugely meaningful distinction.
   209. Shredder Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:59 PM (#4941449)
I'm hitting the real argument. People care more about the spreadsheets being out of balance than they do having to watch pitchers hit for about 7 minutes per game.
No, people think it's dumb that we force a player practice a skill that has absolutely no bearing on his value as a player. None. It's not that they aren't good at it. It's that no one cares that they aren't good at it.
   210. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:59 PM (#4941450)
A DH can be used, but only if they're on PEDs and are registered republicans.

Since they're baseball players, that is kind of a tautology.
   211. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:00 PM (#4941452)
I doubt it. I also doubt that the numbers support a claim that NL ball is more appealing. Therefore we must conclude that the 20 people in this thread who care are the only people who care.


Huh?

I didn't claim NL ball was more appealing. Just that if you and your wife really don't like the DH, you have a viewing option that lets you avoid it. Yet people aren't doing that in great numbers.

If you get rid of the DH, then those people who find the DH unappealing don't have an option at all. That seems like a bad business decision to me.

   212. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:00 PM (#4941453)
Yes, #208, it's really just a technicality. If 2014 pitchers as a whole were worse than every non-pitcher in baseball history except one, instead of being worse than literally every non-pitcher in baseball history, the argument would be ruined.
   213. Shredder Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:01 PM (#4941455)
Yeah, those seven points of OPS that separate it from Bill Bergen's 1909 are a hugely meaningful distinction.
Argument by extreme outlier is always a sure winner.
   214. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:01 PM (#4941458)
The ironic thing is that marginal relief pitchers COULD be chosen based on their ability to hit, since there's such a large supply of otherwise undifferentiated relievers, but there is no opportunity for them to hit unless a game is going into 15 innings.

In today's NL, with 8 relief pitchers and 4 bench players, you'd think there are more and more opportunities to use relievers as pinch hitters.
   215. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:02 PM (#4941460)
a skill that has absolutely no bearing on his value as a player


So runs created at bat by a pitcher no longer count, then?

If teams aren't good at properly assessing that value, and making decisions relating to it, that doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.
   216. TomNY Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:02 PM (#4941461)
51. Jim Furtado Posted: April 27, 2015 at 11:09 AM (#4941133)
OK, so how many people don't watch any games with the DH? No interleague games at AL parks. No World Series games at AL parks.


I'm a fairly casual baseball fan. I grew up as a Mets fan in the 70s and 80s and always preferred the NL style of play – even though that differentiation between the leagues went away a lot during the so-called "steroid era." There is something about the rhythm of the game and the double-switches and the pitcher bunting and having to decide what to do when the pitcher's spot is coming up in the batting order that is not in the American League game. Consequently the AL game has always seemed kind of foreign to me and more boring.

If I am flicking around and the MLB channel has an NL game on I might check it out for a few innings. If it's an AL game I rarely watch more than half an inning. I don't like the World Series games in the AL parks. I like the concept of the same 9 men playing the field that come to the plate. When I was a kid, that was always the rule when you showed up to a stickball game or wiffleball game in progress – you had to play the field before you were allowed to hit. It just seems right to me :-)

I've been encouraged by lower-scoring in recent years and stricter PED testing. This has renewed my interest in watching baseball. But I still really can't watch AL games. I generally won't watch any AL playoff games and my interest in the World Series is diminished because half the games are played with the DH. I know it's probably just because it's what I'm used to but I do think things like double-switches, how we handle the pitcher coming up to bat, pitcher bunting and the new reliever vs. which type of pinch-hitter situation are all elements of the game that I enjoy a lot more than basically the same 9 guys who start the game playing the entire game with very little substitution outside of defensive replacements.

I will occasionally go to an NL game in person but I have no interest in going to an American League game in person unless it's to see a ballpark that I have not seen before, like when Camden yards opened or when I wanted to make sure I had seen a game at Fenway Park.
   217. Random Transaction Generator Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:02 PM (#4941462)
I've never seen a punter play quarterback


A punter threw for a touchdown during this year's NFL playoffs. It was a pretty big deal when it happened, as it helped the Seahawks come from behind in the 2nd half against the Packers.
   218. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:06 PM (#4941468)
A punter threw for a touchdown during this year's NFL playoffs. It was a pretty big deal when it happened, as it helped the Seahawks come from behind in the 2nd half against the Packers.


I missed that one.

Pretty awesome, though. Thanks for pointing it out.
   219. Baldrick Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:08 PM (#4941471)
A DH can be used, but only if they're on PEDs and are registered republicans.

#ThanksObama
   220. Ray (CTL) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:10 PM (#4941473)
I didn't claim NL ball was more appealing. Just that if you and your wife really don't like the DH, you have a viewing option that lets you avoid it.


This is a rather dumb argument. It's like suggesting to people that if they really don't like watching commercials when they watch CSI they can just watch a movie on HBO instead.

Pitchers hitting are commercials. Some people enjoy watching them. Most people get up to go to the bathroom or get a snack.
   221. Sunday silence: Play Guess How long season lasts Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:13 PM (#4941476)
there are some guys who can steal 80 bases a year and others who cannot get any. Isnt this a sufficient disparity comparable to the hitting of pitchers vs position players?
   222. . Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:16 PM (#4941480)
Reiterating: last year, NL pitchers as a whole had a .312 OPS. In the entire history of baseball, no position player ever had a season of as many as 150 PA with an OPS that low.

Who cares about "pitchers as a whole?" That's another fussy, spreadsheety argument. Nobody watches "pitchers as a whole" bat. They watch a bunch of different guys who play pitcher, bat. Those different guys have different stances, different swings, wildly differing talents -- the kind of thing that should be, you know ... kind of ... fun?

And of course when the pitcher comes up in, say, the sixth inning of a close game, the manager has an interesting strategic decision to make. He doesn't just get to sit on his ass, scratch himself, spit, and watch -- American League managing for American League baseball.

   223. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:18 PM (#4941482)
This is a rather dumb argument. It's like suggesting to people that if they really don't like watching commercials when they watch CSI they can just watch a movie on HBO instead.


Not really.

If people find pitcher hitting in major league games so unappealing that it has them considering not watching, there are seven or eight games going on at pretty much the exact same time that don't force you to endure that. Now, he doesn't have the option to avoid DH ball AND watch the Phillies most nights, but everything else is there.


Pitchers hitting are commercials. Some people enjoy watching them. Most people get up to go to the bathroom or get a snack.


For future reference, this is what a dumb argument looks like.

You're welcome.
   224. . Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:18 PM (#4941483)
Most people get up to go to the bathroom or get a snack.

Then get up and go to the bathroom or get a snack. The rest of us have a baseball game to watch.
   225. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:18 PM (#4941484)
Yes, #208, it's really just a technicality. If 2014 pitchers as a whole were worse than every non-pitcher in baseball history except one, instead of being worse than literally every non-pitcher in baseball history, the argument would be ruined.


Actually, they are still worse than literally everyone. Bergen's .319 OPS was good for a 1 OPS+. NL pitchers last year were -10.
   226. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:19 PM (#4941485)
Pitchers hitting are commercials. Some people enjoy watching them. Most people get up to go to the bathroom or get a snack.


Yet another blind assertion presented without any evidence to support it.
   227. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:22 PM (#4941490)
there are some guys who can steal 80 bases a year and others who cannot get any. Isnt this a sufficient disparity comparable to the hitting of pitchers vs position players?


No, just like there are some guys who can hit 40 HR and others cannot get one. Or some guys can play SS and others can't. But everyone has to hit. Not everyone has to play SS.
   228. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:23 PM (#4941491)
I'm hitting the real argument. People care more about the spreadsheets being out of balance than they do having to watch pitchers hit for about 7 minutes per game. (Pitchers don't hit five times per game; they typically hit 2-3). If they cared about the actual hitting part, they'd be trying to explain the aesthetic differences between watching pitchers hit, and slow, shitty baserunners run the bases, or slow, shitty fielders bungle around like oafs. But instead they're simply turning to the spreadsheets and prattling on about the aggregate differences the spreadsheets reflect.


The difference is that if I watch a National League baseball game, I am going to see somewhere between 3 and 8 plate appearances where the batter has no idea what he is doing. This isn't simply a matter of trying and being bad; this is complete ineptitude. If the batter is not trying to give an out away, he is lucky to make hard contact. Furthermore, this is by design. The batter in question has not made any sort of attempt to improve in his capacity as a hitter. In fact, he is instructed not to, and to focus the vast majority of his effort outside of a game at improving his pitching.

Unless I'm watching Adam Dunn or Jack Cust (or a very select few others), no fielder or baserunner even approaches the level of failure that pitchers do when they attempt to hit. I don't like watching terrible, bungling fielders as much as I don't like watching terrible, bungling hitters. But there aren't enough of the the former to warrant introducing a designated fielder or baserunner. There are many, many of the latter, and they are almost exclusively pitchers.

I don't think the fact that there are degrees to the argument invalidates it. The number of awful fielders and the difference between awful fielding and poor, but acceptable fielding does not approach the number of awful hitting pitchers and the difference between the aesthetic value of those pitchers hitting compared to the aesthetic value of another poor hitter.
   229. . Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:23 PM (#4941492)
It's also hilarious that a guy who wants every manager fired during the playoffs for the lineup card decisions he makes, runs to the bathroom or refrigerator at critical strategic inflection points in games.
   230. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:25 PM (#4941494)
Actually, they are still worse than literally everyone. Bergen's .319 OPS was good for a 1 OPS+. NL pitchers last year were -10.


I'm not a subscriber, so I can't tell who it is, but it looks like there's one post-1901 position player with 150+ PA and a season OPS+ of -11.
   231. Ithaca2323 Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:25 PM (#4941496)
there are some guys who can steal 80 bases a year and others who cannot get any. Isnt this a sufficient disparity comparable to the hitting of pitchers vs position players?


No, because guys who can't steal bases don't have to attempt any. A SP who can't hit still has to come to the plate and try to hit.
   232. bunyon Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:26 PM (#4941497)
But everyone has to hit. Not everyone has to play SS.

Not everyone has to hit in your world.
   233. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:28 PM (#4941500)
The difference is that if I watch a National League baseball game, I am going to see somewhere between 3 and 8 plate appearances where the batter has no idea what he is doing. This isn't simply a matter of trying and being bad; this is complete ineptitude. If the batter is not trying to give an out away, he is lucky to make hard contact.


And yet, somehow, they manage to get on base about one and a half times out of ten, anyway. Must be a miracle.

Furthermore, this is by design. The batter in question has not made any sort of attempt to improve in his capacity as a hitter. In fact, he is instructed not to...


Wha? I can't speak for any other teams, but the Pirates definitely have their pitchers take BP.
   234. . Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:28 PM (#4941501)
But there aren't enough of the the former to warrant introducing a designated fielder or baserunner.

Says who?

Moreover, no team in a high-leverage situation is going to let their pitcher hit. OTOH, shitty fielders and shitty baserunners routinely #### up in high-leverage situations. Prince Fielder bumbling and stumbling away an ALCS is far more displeasing -- aesthetically and otherwise -- than watching a pitcher hit in the fourth inning of a Wednesday night game in June.
   235. Ray (CTL) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:30 PM (#4941506)
Not everyone has to hit in your world.


The anti-DH argument basically boils down to "Pitchers should hit because all fielders should hit."

The problem is that pitchers are not in the same class as fielders. This is evident because fielders are selected in part for their batting skill (as well as their fielding skill) and pitchers are not selected for either.

If Jon Lester hits .000 he will pitch anyway. If anyone disputes this, please come forth and go on record now.

If Jon Lester can't throw to first base he will pitch anyway. But not being able to throw to first base effectively ended Chuck Knoblauch's career.
   236. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:31 PM (#4941507)
Moreover, no team in a high-leverage situation is going to let their pitcher hit.


John Farrell accepts your challenge.
   237. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:31 PM (#4941508)
Who cares about "pitchers as a whole?" That's another fussy, spreadsheety argument.


Would you prefer I talk only about the Jon Lester's and Bob Buhl's of the world the way you cling to extreme outliers at the other end?
   238. Moeball Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:32 PM (#4941513)
For the time being - as of now, pitchers are still being required to step to the plate in the NL. Whether the DH eventually gets adopted or not is anybody's guess.

Question - how advanced have the pitching machines become? I am always fascinated when watching pitchers demonstrate how they grip a 2-seamer, 4-seamer, cutter, slider, splitter, changeup, etc. It seems like minor adjustments in the grip can change how the ball rotates because of the seams. So, can machines be programmed nowadays to do all of this stuff while still throwing in the 90s? It would seem to me that spending some hours batting against every type of pitch at every speed imaginable would help all hitters, including pitchers. Is the technology this advanced yet? If so, are pitchers actively using this to try to improve? Or are they staying away from very much hitting practice because they are afraid of somehow getting injured? Really have no idea so I was wondering if someone else was really up on this stuff. Or have pitchers themselves given up on trying to improve as hitters in the belief that they soon won't need to bat anyways?
   239. bunyon Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:33 PM (#4941515)
The anti-DH argument basically boils down to "Pitchers should hit because all fielders should hit."

And the pro-DH side basically boils down to "I don't like watching bad hitters try to do something useful."


As others have said but you can't seem to figure out, it's an aesthetic argument on both sides. There is no "right". Which is why having two leagues with different rules is a nice place to be. You'd like to see the NL rules go away, though, resulting in me and others like me not being able to see our game. But we're the psychos.
   240. Kiko Sakata Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:34 PM (#4941516)
The anti-DH argument basically boils down to "Pitchers should hit because all fielders should hit."


Yes, it does.

The problem is that


you're trying to make an objective argument against a subjective statement.
   241. Lassus Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:36 PM (#4941518)
The difference is that if I watch a National League baseball game, I am going to see somewhere between 3 and 8 plate appearances where the batter has no idea what he is doing.

Eight? Can someone look up the last time a pitcher batted more than three times in a game? Or was something else meant?
   242. Ray (CTL) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:38 PM (#4941521)
Eight? Can someone look up the last time a pitcher batted more than three times in a game? Or was something else meant?


I presume he means PAs of pitchers from both teams, added up.

Plus any time Dan Uggla bats.
   243. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:40 PM (#4941523)
By the way, I think the Farrell moment I mentioned above is somewhat relevant here. John Farrell opted to let his ace pitcher bat in a high-leverage situation in perhaps the highest-leverage game in the 2013 season, a move that, at least, didn't burn him (though I would have pinch hit for him).

But regardless where one stands on Farrell's choice (and we gave the issue ample coverage), the one thing that choice can't really be described as is not interesting.
   244. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:40 PM (#4941524)
And the pro-DH side basically boils down to "I don't like watching bad hitters try to do something useful."


Not merely bad hitters. Didi Gregorious is a bad hitter. Late career Omar Vizquel was a bad hitter. Pitchers are historically awful hitters. Only the very best of them rise to the level of merely bad.
   245. . Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:41 PM (#4941526)
The problem is that pitchers are not in the same class as fielders. This is evident because fielders are selected in part for their batting skill (as well as their fielding skill) and pitchers are not selected for either.

Not only are pitchers "in the same class as fielders," pitchers are in fact ... fielders. They get Gold Gloves and everything.


   246. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:42 PM (#4941527)
Not merely bad hitters. Didi Gregorious is a bad hitter. Late career Omar Vizquel was a bad hitter. Pitchers are historically awful hitters. Only the very best of them rise to the level of merely bad.


That changes everything.
   247. Ray (CTL) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:42 PM (#4941528)
But regardless where one stands on Farrell's choice (and we gave the issue ample coverage), the one thing that choice can't really be described as is not interesting.


It was "interesting" in the same way that managers bunting in the first inning is "interesting."

Which is to say, only in the dumb-as-Kim-Kardashian or intriguing-as-a-car-wreck fashion.

Or as stupid as sitting your best player in an elimination game. Sometimes Don Mattingly and co. do idiotic things. That doesn't mean those things are "interesting."
   248. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:42 PM (#4941529)
They get Gold Gloves and everything.


So do DHs.
   249. bunyon Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:42 PM (#4941530)

Not merely bad hitters. Didi Gregorious is a bad hitter. Late career Omar Vizquel was a bad hitter. Pitchers are historically awful hitters. Only the very best of them rise to the level of merely bad.


And you don't like that. Which is fine. Some of us do (given the larger symmetry it gives the game and the moments for strategic decisions). Only one side has any practical chance of forcing their views on the other.
   250. Lassus Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:43 PM (#4941531)
I presume he means PAs of pitchers from both teams, added up.

Oh, duh. Been a long day.
   251. bunyon Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:43 PM (#4941532)
So do DHs.

Primey.
   252. Ray (CTL) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:44 PM (#4941533)
Not only are pitchers "in the same class as fielders," pitchers are in fact ... fielders. They get Gold Gloves and everything.


Which nobody takes seriously. It's trivia.

But this is the type of intellectually dishonest argument we're talking about. People seriously claiming that pitchers are fielders just like shortstops or catchers are fielders. It's specious.

Guess which "fielder" is told to get the hell out of the way when a pop-up goes up in the middle of the infield? Pitchers are, despite already being camped directly underneath the thing while one of the infielders has to run to the spot of the ball to get there.
   253. Ray (CTL) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:47 PM (#4941534)
Oh, duh. Been a long day.


Well, your confusion is still warranted, because he said between 3-8 PAs, and if we're talking about both teams then obviously it'll be more than 3.
   254. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:48 PM (#4941535)
It was "interesting" in the same way that managers bunting in the first inning is "interesting."


I've noticed that you're really, really bad at making comparisons. You should work on that.

It presented an interesting choice, one that baseball fans had strong views on both sides of the decision. We had a couple of good threads batting it back and forth. I like that, and based on the post counts, it seems others did too.

Well, your confusion is still warranted, because he said between 3-8 PAs, and if we're talking about both teams then obviously it'll be more than 3.


Not necessarily. One team's pitcher, having given up a few runs, gets pinch-hit for before his second trip to the plate. And the opposing pitcher gets removed before his third time up (either for a PA or becuase he's hit 97 pitches after 5 innings).

Three is probably the minimum, barring injury. But I imagine it happens more often than 8.
   255. Astroenteritis Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:48 PM (#4941536)
I'm always hesitant to get into the DH argument, because what else is there to say? But we don't let that stop us, do we? The Astros have been in the AL for a few years now and I can't honestly say I enjoy the games any less. I think the DH is an abomination and a concession to short attention span, instant gratification thinking as well as a solution looking for a problem. I like nine-man baseball and all that. DH supporters seem to cling to the fact pitchers don't hit well. That was never a problem for me; pitchers were never supposed to hit as well as other players. It never occurred to me once in the sixties that pitchers shouldn't be batting. Some hit better than others, and that's nice, but they're baseball players. Now we have 2 out of 10 players in the lineup who are not really called upon to be baseball players. So, I'm glad some pitchers still bat, but the day is coming when they won't, and I've accepted that. The universal DH is coming, but I'll still enjoy baseball.

Also, I'm not supposed to say this, but I'm starting to like the Astros being in the AL. Don't know exactly why yet, but I'm sure it's not the DH!

   256. . Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:49 PM (#4941537)
Which nobody takes seriously. It's trivia.

Pitchers' Gold Glove awards are now "trivia"? In what sense? Commentators, annnoucers, fans don't take note of good fielding pitchers? That's absurd.

People seriously claiming that pitchers are fielders just like shortstops or catchers are fielders. It's specious.

Not "just like" shortstops or catchers,(*) but they're fielders. Not only do they catch batted balls, they also make pickoff throws. They differ wildly in their ability to execute these skills.

(*) Whatever that means. Left fielders aren't fielders "just like" shortstops or catchers, either.
   257. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:49 PM (#4941538)
there are some guys who can steal 80 bases a year and others who cannot get any.

I dunno...they're major leaguers, so they're probably all getting some.
   258. BDC Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:51 PM (#4941540)
If Jon Lester can't throw to first base he will pitch anyway

Wait, how can he pitch if he can't throw to first base? :)

But I see what you mean. It's probably more like if he can't cover first base. That's rare, but … in his last two seasons in Texas, Nolan Ryan had a total of three putouts (over 40 starts). Kevin Brown had 66 in 69 starts. Didn't keep Nolan from starting ballgames when his arm was healthy.
   259. Ray (CTL) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:51 PM (#4941541)
Not "just like" shortstops or catchers, but they're fielders. Not only do they catch batted balls, they also make pickoff throws. They differ wildly in their ability to execute these skills.


Not only do they "field," they also "bat"! But that doesn't make them fielders or hitters. You can call dog crap a rose but it would still smell as crappy as dog crap.
   260. Ray (CTL) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:53 PM (#4941543)
(*) Whatever that means. Left fielders aren't fielders "just like" shortstops or catchers, either.


Yes they are, because they can lose their jobs for fielding badly. Lucas Duda had to be moved to 1B.
   261. Howie Menckel Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:55 PM (#4941545)

Based on this thread and on MLB baseball attendance, it appears that many people prefer the DH, and that many prefer there be no DH.

That sounds like a pretty good argument for keeping the status quo - and I'd think so even if the next article is by someone angrily insulting people who prefer the DH and saying that "DHs batting is dumb."


   262. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:56 PM (#4941547)
And the pro-DH side basically boils down to "I don't like watching bad hitters try to do something useful."


Trying is more than simply stepping into the box or taking BP the day they pitch. Fine. Do they get in the cages on other days? Do they come in early and work with hitting coaches? Are they watching video on opposing pitchers? I would be very, very surprised if any significant time was spent on any of these activities. So I don't think pitchers are trying in any meaningful sense of the word. I don't mean that to disparage pitchers' work habits; they are asked by their coaches to focus on other tasks.
   263. . Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:57 PM (#4941548)
Yes they are, because they can lose their jobs for fielding badly. Lucas Duda had to be moved to 1B.

Your obsession with this is reaching Andy/BM levels. The test for whether pitchers are fielders isn't whether teams sort them on their fielding ability (*); it's whether they, you know ... field. And they do, in fact, field. They field bunts, they field ground balls, they field line drives, they throw batted balls to bases for putouts. The really good, athletic ones are way better at it than the really shitty ones. Watch a game sometime, you'll see. The pitcher doesn't just throw the ball and stand there.

And since they are in fact fielders, it stands to reason that, like all the other fielders, they should also hit. Why there should be a hitter who isn't also a fielder, when every other hitter is also a fielder, is an exercise best left for the reader. It makes no logical sense; it makes no aesthetic sense. It is in no way, "progress." It was a leisure suit-ish, vintage early 1970s idea that somehow, inexplicably, has been allowed to linger and fester.

(*) And of course, the only reason you're arguing pitchers aren't fielders is because you need to for your DH argument.
   264. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:58 PM (#4941551)
Not only do they "field," they also "bat"! But that doesn't make them fielders or hitters.


Actually, I'm thinking that batting and fielding are pretty much the only qualifications needed to be classified as batters and fielders, respectively.
   265. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:59 PM (#4941552)
Plus any time Dan Uggla bats.


I was referring to Jeff Mathis, but Uggla works.

And yes, I meant combined plate appearances for pitchers on both teams. Both pitchers might get 2 - 3 appearances with the occasional 4 plate appearance game.

Edit: It was just a generality, but I wasn't being inclusive with my endpoints. So for clarity's sake, we can say from 4 - 7 plate appearances per game, although 4 - 6 is probably closer to the number that you'll see in a vast majority of games.
   266. Ithaca2323 Posted: April 27, 2015 at 02:59 PM (#4941554)
Moreover, no team in a high-leverage situation is going to let their pitcher hit.


But isn't this a point against the argument that pro-DH people often make, that when a pitcher comes up, NL managers are faced with a strategic dilemma, and thats one thing that makes NL ball interesting? If it's such a foregone conclusion that a pitcher won't hit in a high-leverage situation, then the decision isn't strategic, but obvious.

I mean, fall wherever you want to on this argument. But many of pitcher's PAs seem to fall into one of two categories:

1. The manager would have no reason to pinch-hit: Early/mid game situations where a P is throwing well
2. The manager would have no reason to let the pitcher hit: Late game situations where the game is tied or the hitting team is trailing, or early if the pitcher is being dreadful but wasn't pulled mid-inning, or a situation where the manager knows the pitcher isn't going out for the next inning anyway (like a relief pitcher)
   267. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 27, 2015 at 03:03 PM (#4941562)
(*) And of course, the only reason you're arguing pitchers aren't fielders is because you need to for your DH argument.


I don't think he needs to. I think he just inadvertently wandered down that path and now he's scrambling for a way out.

I don't think there's anything inaccurate about saying pitchers aren't hitters. It's a much more difficult case to make that they aren't fielders, and redefining fielder to someone who can be replaced because they're fielding is bad isn't doing the trick. Because it's also true that just as Jon Lester can hit as poorly as Jon Lester hits and they still let him pitch, Gary Sheffield and Adam Dunn and Derek Jeter could field just as poorly as they were and they still didn't get replaced.
   268. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 03:03 PM (#4941563)
Not merely bad hitters. Didi Gregorious is a bad hitter. Late career Omar Vizquel was a bad hitter. Pitchers are historically awful hitters. Only the very best of them rise to the level of merely bad.


Over the last 5+ seasons (2010 - 2015), the best pitcher with 100 or more plate appearances had a .273 wOBA. Only eight qualified hitters came in below that level.

There are a few extreme outliers who could use a designated baserunner or fielder - Adam Dunn, Billy Butler, Derek Jeter - but every single pitcher is an extreme outlier when it comes to hitting.
   269. Gaelan Posted: April 27, 2015 at 03:05 PM (#4941565)
Baseball is not, and never has been, about putting "the best against the best." It is about the relative ability of players and the opportunity for some to succeed where others fail. Of course any professional hitter is going to be better than the pitcher, but I don't understand why that is relevant. What matters isn't whether pitchers are worse hitters. They are. What matters is whether they are all equally bad.

So long as there is meaningful differentiation in the quality of pitcher hitting then the argument in favour of the DH has no merit because it is irrelevant that pitchers are bad at hitting.

The fun of baseball (or any sport) is the tension between result and expectation of result. In this respect the DH reduces the tension (and hence entertainment) by introducing more of the mean element into the game. You get more Brad Fullmer and less Micah Owings. So while it is true no one like's watching a pitcher who never gets a hit, no one like's watching Brad Fullmer either.

That's what the DH does. It reduces the spread of outcomes. Sure it increases the absolute level of play but it does so at the cost of variance that makes outcomes meaningful.
   270. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 03:07 PM (#4941567)
But isn't this a point against the argument that pro-DH people often make, that when a pitcher comes up, NL managers are faced with a strategic dilemma, and thats one thing that makes NL ball interesting? If it's such a foregone conclusion that a pitcher won't hit in a high-leverage situation, then the decision isn't strategic, but obvious.


The decision of whether or not to pinch hit in that situation is fairly easy. The selection of the actual pinch hitter from among the available options, on the other hand, is fairly complex and multi-layered.
   271. Lassus Posted: April 27, 2015 at 03:16 PM (#4941570)
Gaelan expressed what I would have said if I had been a lot better at saying it.
   272. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 03:19 PM (#4941572)
Agreed on #269. The DH makes in-game managing easier, I say make 'em work.
   273. Jim Furtado Posted: April 27, 2015 at 03:20 PM (#4941575)
If the DH were instituted in the NL tomorrow, there would be no discernible impact on attendance or ratings. None.


If the DH were eliminated tomorrow, there would be no discernible impact on attendance or ratings.

Ya know, this whole discussion already took place years ago. One of the nice things about getting older is you remember things like that. A lot of AL "purists" were making the same points before the AL implemented the DH. Yet, baseball attendance did not drop in AL cities after the DH rule was implemented. So, there is data to support my assertion.
   274. Random Transaction Generator Posted: April 27, 2015 at 03:21 PM (#4941580)
Wait, how can he pitch if he can't throw to first base? :)

But I see what you mean. It's probably more like if he can't cover first base.


Lester has an "issue" with throwing to first base.

He made ZERO pick-off attempts at first base in 2014, and a total of 12 attempts between 2012-2014.
He had gone 66 starts without a pick-off attempt.

And when he made his first pick-off attempt this season...it didn't go well.


So he's not really joking when he says "Jon Lester not throwing to first base"....
   275. BDC Posted: April 27, 2015 at 03:30 PM (#4941590)
Ah, sorry, yes, I missed the Lester in-joke. OK, throw to first on a pickoff move … that really is a minor duty. And one that, like trouble fielding, gets reflected in his ERA, for better or worse.
   276. PreservedFish Posted: April 27, 2015 at 03:34 PM (#4941596)
It's also hilarious that a guy who wants every manager fired during the playoffs for the lineup card decisions he makes, runs to the bathroom or refrigerator at critical strategic inflection points in games.

I like this comment.
   277. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 03:41 PM (#4941600)
But isn't this a point against the argument that pro-DH people often make, that when a pitcher comes up, NL managers are faced with a strategic dilemma, and thats one thing that makes NL ball interesting? If it's such a foregone conclusion that a pitcher won't hit in a high-leverage situation, then the decision isn't strategic, but obvious.

But, there's a wide range of situations in between that are not clear cut.

Top of the 6th inning, tied 2-2, men on 1st and 3rd with 1 out, with your ace up. PH or no?
   278. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 03:42 PM (#4941601)
Baseball is not, and never has been, about putting "the best against the best." It is about the relative ability of players and the opportunity for some to succeed where others fail. Of course any professional hitter is going to be better than the pitcher, but I don't understand why that is relevant. What matters isn't whether pitchers are worse hitters. They are. What matters is whether they are all equally bad.

So long as there is meaningful differentiation in the quality of pitcher hitting then the argument in favour of the DH has no merit because it is irrelevant that pitchers are bad at hitting.

The fun of baseball (or any sport) is the tension between result and expectation of result. In this respect the DH reduces the tension (and hence entertainment) by introducing more of the mean element into the game. You get more Brad Fullmer and less Micah Owings. So while it is true no one like's watching a pitcher who never gets a hit, no one like's watching Brad Fullmer either.

That's what the DH does. It reduces the spread of outcomes. Sure it increases the absolute level of play but it does so at the cost of variance that makes outcomes meaningful.


Well said. Count me as an anti-DH AL fan.
   279. Ray (CTL) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 03:54 PM (#4941612)
My basic reason for disliking pitchers hitting is that you're not watching a MLB quality PA. That point cannot be disputed.

I don't find that matchup "interesting"; I find it stupid.
   280. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: April 27, 2015 at 03:59 PM (#4941618)
From my years of managing games in OOTP on both sides of the fence, I can tell you: Man, is managing a bullpen a million times easier with the DH. You can set a relief pitcher on a specific pitch count and pull him when he hits it, allowing him to go into the game knowing exactly what's going to be expected of him; you can lift a struggling pitcher in favor of a GOOD reliever without having to worry about, "Well, the pitcher's spot's due up next inning, so I need to double switch if I want to use this guy beyond just this one out... or should I go with a lesser reliever and hope for the best..."

Managers' lives are definitely easier with the DH. Whether the managers having to make those kinds of tactical decisions every game makes for a better fan experience is a matter of taste.
   281. . Posted: April 27, 2015 at 03:59 PM (#4941619)
So he's not really joking when he says "Jon Lester not throwing to first base"....

Someone can crunch the numbers on what it would really mean, but I'm not convinced Lester could survive as a pitcher if he literally could not throw to bases, such that among other things, every time the ball was hit to him it would be a single. Certainly borderline starters couldn't survive said affliction.

Top of the 6th inning, tied 2-2, men on 1st and 3rd with 1 out, with your ace up. PH or no?

Who cares, when that fresh bag of Doritos is calling?
   282. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: April 27, 2015 at 03:59 PM (#4941620)
For all of the talk about balance and symmetry, why isn't anyone arguing that players should be asked to do nearly everything?


I would prefer a game with less specialization, both at the DH position and at the relief position. It's just a better game when you don't have guys who basically only do one thing.
   283. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: April 27, 2015 at 04:01 PM (#4941621)
My basic reason for disliking pitchers hitting is that you're not watching a MLB quality PA. That point cannot be disputed.


IF it happens in MLB, it's a MLB quality at bat. By definition. *That* point cannot be disputed.
   284. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: April 27, 2015 at 04:02 PM (#4941622)
That point cannot be disputed.

It is, by definition, a MLB quality PA.*

The strategy bit is more than just the binary of pinch hitting/not pinch hitting. The imbalance of offensive abilities found in NL lineups fosters interesting, but otherwise unproductive, small ball strategies. The difference is larger than the pitcher's PA; it's the looming specter which encourages plays like the double steal, squeeze, and hit and run. Without pitcher PAs I think these would be basically gone from baseball. I don't watch much AL (and I can't find numbers on it) but I suspect these strategies are virtually nonexistent over there.

*carbonated beverage IOU
   285. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: April 27, 2015 at 04:02 PM (#4941624)
Ya know, this whole discussion already took place years ago. One of the nice things about getting older is you remember things like that. A lot of AL "purists" were making the same points before the AL implemented the DH. Yet, baseball attendance did not drop in AL cities after the DH rule was implemented. So, there is data to support my assertion.


That might be interesting if anyone were arguing otherwise. The point isn't that the DH will cause major drops in attendance, but that the opposite is also true. As such, attendance is a meaningless frame to ask the question.
   286. Ithaca2323 Posted: April 27, 2015 at 04:03 PM (#4941625)
Because it's also true that just as Jon Lester can hit as poorly as Jon Lester hits and they still let him pitch, Gary Sheffield and Adam Dunn and Derek Jeter could field just as poorly as they were and they still didn't get replaced.


I think the difference is there was a level Jeter could have reached with his poor fielding that would have made it not worth his offensive contributions—he just never reached that point, because even if your range stinks, you're still going to get to hundreds of balls. He was lousy defensively, but he was way above how lousy he could have been.

I don't know that there is a point where a good pitcher becomes such a liability with the bat that he loses his job. In 2004, Doug Davis made 34 starts and threw 207 innings for the Brewers. He went 1-for-64, with one walk, 43 strikeouts, and one double play. His slash line was .016/.031/.016. That's not the theoretical floor, but it's a heck of a lot closer than a guy like Jeter or Dunn were.
   287. Ray (CTL) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 04:07 PM (#4941632)
It is, by definition, a MLB quality PA.*

...

*carbonated beverage IOU


I expected this unlettered reply.
   288. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 27, 2015 at 04:08 PM (#4941637)
That might be interesting if anyone were arguing otherwise. The point isn't that the DH will cause major drops in attendance, but that the opposite is also true. As such, attendance is a meaningless frame to ask the question.


To be fair to Jim, my point has been that there's a much greater downside potential due to removing an option than there is upside potential by creating another set of games under the same rules. So I think attendance/ratings declines are possible for NL games, far more likely than a bounce.

   289. bbmck Posted: April 27, 2015 at 04:11 PM (#4941639)
Worst OPS+ min 150 PA in a season, non-pitcher:

Rk          Player OPS+  PA Year
1    Frank ORourke  
-11 216 1912
2      Bill Bergen   
-3 250 1911
3    Andy Anderson   
-2 152 1949
4      Pat Rockett   
-0 157 1978
5      Bill Bergen    1 372 1909
6    Morgan Murphy    1 222 1897
7      Billy Riley    1 163 1879
8       Bob Didier    2 183 1970
9      Maury Wills    3 152 1972
10      Doc Powers    3 192 1906 


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/27/2015.

Worst since the DH was introduced in 1973:

Rk          Player OPS+  PA Year
1      Pat Rockett   
-0 157 1978
2        Luis Cruz    5 187 2013
3     Brandon Wood    6 243 2010
4        Tony Pena    7 235 2008
5    Angel Salazar    9 184 1984
6     Joel Skinner   11 154 1987
7        Tim Bogar   12 169 1998
8     Leury Garcia   14 155 2014
9     Doug Strange   14 201 1998
10   Marc Sullivan   14 173 1987 


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/27/2015.

Seasons since the DH, min 150 PA and under X OPS by a non-pitcher - 30: 62, 40: 184, 50: 519
   290. Ithaca2323 Posted: April 27, 2015 at 04:12 PM (#4941640)
But, there's a wide range of situations in between that are not clear cut.

Top of the 6th inning, tied 2-2, men on 1st and 3rd with 1 out, with your ace up. PH or no?


He hits, and there's no hesitation in my mind. Pulling the ace after 5 innings when they're pitching well?

Also, I don't think those tough situations come up all that much. If we were to go back and look at what, 800-900 times a year where the pitcher's spot comes up, I'd bet that an overwhelming majority of them would fall into clear cut scenarios.
   291. Ray (CTL) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 04:12 PM (#4941641)
To be fair to Jim, my point has been that there's a much greater downside potential due to removing an option than there is upside potential by creating another set of games under the same rules. So I think attendance/ratings declines are possible for NL games, far more likely than a bounce.


Based on zero evidence.

The idea that more than a handful of whiney NL fans would leave the game is fanciful. It wouldn't register as the slightest bit significant. (As opposed to something like the 1994 strike, which DID cause huge losses in fans and took several years to incrementally recover from.)

I do agree that implementing the DH in the NL wouldn't increase fans either, but I've not argued otherwise.
   292. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: April 27, 2015 at 04:16 PM (#4941644)
To be fair to Jim, my point has been that there's a much greater downside potential due to removing an option than there is upside potential by creating another set of games under the same rules. So I think attendance/ratings declines are possible for NL games, far more likely than a bounce.


Okay. I don't imagine there would be a statistically significant drop in attendance. A few people left the Astros when they went to the AL, but most Astros fans are still Astros fans. Sports run on tribal allegiances. A simple rule change won't undercut that for any long term.

That said, there's no non-aesthetic reason to require the NL to adopt the DH outside of World Series "fairness." All of the other arguments are simply preference of style. Some people like classic rock. Some people like nu-metal.
   293. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: April 27, 2015 at 04:17 PM (#4941645)
The idea that more than a handful of whiney NL fans would leave the game is fanciful. It wouldn't register as the slightest bit significant


Of course, there's no REASON aside from your need to impose your aesthetic preferences on everyone to require those "whiney NL fans" watch AL baseball. All of this strum and drang aside, this is nothing more than you demanding that everyone recognize that BLUE IS THE FAVORITE COLOR DAMMIT!
   294. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 27, 2015 at 04:18 PM (#4941646)
Based on zero evidence.


It's based on a significant number of people here saying they would have less interest in baseball if the NL adopted the DH, and figuring they don't represent the only NL fans who feel that way. Just because you insist these people are lying doesn't make it so.

And, again, they don't have to leave the game entirely. I doubt most would, even the Vladdiest of NL fans. But if they're watching fewer games, or attending fewer games, that counts.

Since I don't see any reason for a corresponding increase in fandom as a result of this move to standardization (given that the hardcore "won't watch a game if the stinking pitcher is hitting crowd" already has a viable outlet), I think it's a risk baseball would be foolish to undertake.
   295. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 27, 2015 at 04:19 PM (#4941648)
I'm not convinced Lester could survive as a pitcher if he literally could not throw to bases, such that among other things, every time the ball was hit to him it would be a single.


Just a small point: Couldn't they just have Ross charge toward the mound on a comebacker and have Lester flip it to him and then Ross throws it to first? Not a perfect solution, of course, but there's probably enough time to still get the runner on most comebackers.
   296. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 04:22 PM (#4941650)
I expected this unlettered reply.


What's your big beef with tautologies, Ray? I never thought I would see someone mount an extended series of objections to the concept of a thing being identical to itself.
   297. Ray (CTL) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 04:24 PM (#4941653)
All of the other arguments are simply preference of style. Some people like classic rock. Some people like nu-metal.


No. Arguing that pitchers hitting are MLB quality PAs, as you did above, is not "style." It's simply factually incorrect and an intensely intellectually dishonest argument. Which is par for the course for your "side."
   298. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 04:37 PM (#4941671)
No. Arguing that pitchers hitting are MLB quality PAs, as you did above, is not "style." It's simply factually incorrect and an intensely intellectually dishonest argument. Which is par for the course for your "side."


A equals not A. Therefore, ad hominem.
   299. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 04:43 PM (#4941678)
OK, so how many people don't watch any games with the DH? No interleague games at AL parks. No World Series games at AL parks.

I very rarely watch AL baseball, but when I do, I occasionally find myself very confused/have trouble following for a second because I'm so unused to the DH. It's pretty weird, considering it's still the same sport.

Then again, I have a lot of trouble watching March Madness re: the shot clock on the same token, so it is definitely my own flaw. Never had that problem with different kinds of cricket, though.

I like watching pitchers hit. I like pinch-hitting and double-switches. I don't really like the DH. I'd rather we didn't add it. I fully admit this is entirely subjective opinion. I don't care.
   300. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: April 27, 2015 at 04:50 PM (#4941683)
Arguing that pitchers hitting are MLB quality PAs, as you did above, is not "style." It's simply factually incorrect and an intensely intellectually dishonest argument.


A = A, Ray.
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