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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Rogers: MLB sets up mechanism that could ban DH

To be fair, it’s premature to ask such a potentially provocative question. But thanks to Commissioner Bud Selig’s decision to turn recommendations for on-field matters over to a newly created version of the NFL’s Competition Committee, the DH rule could face its first real threat since the American League accepted it permanently for the 1976 season, after a three-year experiment that began as a way to create run scoring and increase attendance.

Nothing in baseball during the modern era has sparked stronger feelings than the DH rule. The AL has used it for 37 seasons, but the National League never has considered it strongly.

Selig’s 14-member committee to consider all on-field issues, which was announced on Tuesday, will not have formal authority. It includes four current managers, four current or former general managers and four ownership representatives, along with MLB official Frank Robinson and journalist/baseball fan George Will.

Selig said he will “be guided by what this committee comes up with” on matters including “scheduling, postseason format, umpiring, pace of play and instant replay.” The commissioner did not mention the DH rule, but Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and longtime Braves executive John Schuerholz, who joined Selig on a conference call, both listed it as the one thing they potentially would change if they could.

...La Russa said he would be in favor of eliminating the DH, except for the All-Star Game.

“I think the game is more complete without the DH,” he said.

Then do away with LRLRLRLRLRLROOGY’s if you want more complete games!

Repoz Posted: December 16, 2009 at 05:18 AM | 103 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. villageidiom Posted: December 16, 2009 at 05:34 AM (#3414404)
An alternate headline would be:
MLB sets up mechanism that could allow squirrels as pinch-runners

Of course, there are fewer quotes about that possibility. But it's true.
   2. Harry Balsagne Posted: December 16, 2009 at 05:35 AM (#3414406)
La Russa said he would be in favor of eliminating the DH, except for the All-Star Game.

That would be stupid.

While I don't have a problem with the DH as things are now (it's been in place during my entire lifetime, and I've always lived in AL markets), I'm all for getting rid of it. Also, it would be cool if teams tried to cultivate better hitting pitchers.
   3. Sam M. Posted: December 16, 2009 at 05:41 AM (#3414412)
That would be stupid.

Actually, the ASG is the one place I favor the DH. It's a glorified exhibition, so we shouldn't care about the purity of the competition. We want to see the greatest players doing what they do best, which does not include pitchers hitting, even once when it comes to the starter. By having the DH, you get one more great hitter into the game, and that seems all to the good.

Why the hell not use it there?
   4. CraigK Posted: December 16, 2009 at 05:44 AM (#3414413)
MLB sets up mechanism that could allow squirrels as pinch-runners


And despite the fact that it sounds mind-numbingly idiotic, somehow the squirrels would never get caught and always score.
   5. PreservedFish Posted: December 16, 2009 at 05:46 AM (#3414414)
Why the hell not use it there?


I absolutely agree with you, but as a practical matter you would have, at most, 2 pitcher ABs during the all-star game. Maybe zero. And with 60+ all-stars every year, or whatever it is, having those pinch-hitting slots open makes it easier for everyone to get involved.
   6. Zipperholes Posted: December 16, 2009 at 05:49 AM (#3414415)
An alternate headline would be:

MLB sets up mechanism that could allow squirrels as pinch-runners


Right. The only mention of banning the DH is an NL manager and former NL GM bringing it up as a personal preference. Another deceptive headline concocted just to lure readers.
   7. Sam M. Posted: December 16, 2009 at 05:53 AM (#3414416)
And with 60+ all-stars every year, or whatever it is, having those pinch-hitting slots open makes it easier for everyone to get involved.

Well, you can just PH for the DH, of course. But I admit that might be too complex for some of the guys who manage in that game from time to time, whereas they are used to pinch-hitting for the pitcher, so that comes easier to them.
   8. shozzlekhan Posted: December 16, 2009 at 05:57 AM (#3414418)
Nothing in baseball during the modern era has sparked stronger feelings than the DH rule.


Would there be any controversy had both leagues adopted it?
   9. danielj Posted: December 16, 2009 at 06:02 AM (#3414420)
And despite the fact that it sounds mind-numbingly idiotic, somehow the squirrels would never get caught and always score.

How awesome would it be if they required a tree to placed between 1st and 2nd base?
   10. Lassus Posted: December 16, 2009 at 06:03 AM (#3414422)
Would there be any controversy had both leagues adopted it?

Baseball being generational, I'd think so. And I'd have a hard time believing a DH would go over that great in little league and high school where there are plenty of pitchers who love to hit and do well at it.
   11. Sam M. Posted: December 16, 2009 at 06:06 AM (#3414424)
How awesome would it be if they required a tree to placed between 1st and 2nd base?

Imagine the press release:

Baseball Does Its Part in Fight Against Global Warming!
   12. TerpNats Posted: December 16, 2009 at 06:17 AM (#3414432)
My idea, for now, would be to alter the interleague format for the next three years (covering all interdivision rotations), with the game played by the visiting league's rules. Let people in Cincinnati and Colorado see games firsthand with a DH; let people in Seattle and Toronto experience games where the pitcher bats. It might change minds one way or the other, whereas currently people are for the most part only directly exposed to the style their team's league plays in. Then decide what to do for 2013.
   13. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 16, 2009 at 06:29 AM (#3414434)
My idea, for now, would be to alter the interleague format for the next three years (covering all interdivision rotations), with the game played by the visiting league's rules. Let people in Cincinnati and Colorado see games firsthand with a DH; let people in Seattle and Toronto experience games where the pitcher bats. It might change minds one way or the other, whereas currently people are for the most part only directly exposed to the style their team's league plays in. Then decide what to do for 2013.


While I'm actually in favor of your idea of having the DH in NL parks and the pitcher hit in AL parks, just to mix things up, do you really think folks need to see its implementation in person to decide which method they prefer? Presumably most folks who care enough about the issue have watched a game or two from the other league on television to form an opinion.
   14. MM1f Posted: December 16, 2009 at 06:29 AM (#3414435)
I'd be ok with keeping the DH in the minors as well, at least at the lower levels.
   15. The George Sherrill Selection Posted: December 16, 2009 at 06:44 AM (#3414441)
How would you measure the squirrel's performance? Nuts Above Replacement Squirrel?
   16. bads85 Posted: December 16, 2009 at 06:50 AM (#3414442)
And I'd have a hard time believing a DH would go over that great in little league and high school where there are plenty of pitchers who love to hit and do well at it.


It already exists in high school --- often it is not used for pitchers.
   17. Yclept Posted: December 16, 2009 at 08:44 AM (#3414454)
I believe Bill James said in one of his Baseball Abstracts that the DH actually increases, not decreases, the need for actual strategy.

Any 11 year old who has been watching baseball for a year or two and possesses a functioning long term memory knows a major league manager will pinch hit for the pitcher late in the game with a two run or so deficit. That isn't really a decision, it's a reflex. On the other hand, with the DH, the manager actually has to decide whether the pitcher is too tired or too ineffective to keep in the game, whether that pitcher will be negatively affected in his next start if left in to pitch the eighth or ninth, etc.

For those reasons and because I like to see great hitters such as Edgar Martinez, who because of injuries, would have had an even more injury plagued career than he did, put me down in favor of the DH.

In my opinion, it would be better to change the rules so that a relief pitcher has to stay in the game either until the end of the inning or until an opposing batter gets on base. Though I've always been a fan of the Cardinals, there are few things on earth more boring or disruptive to the flow of the game than a typical Tony LaRussa late-inning parade of right-left-right-left relief pitchers.
   18. Dr. Vaux Posted: December 16, 2009 at 09:28 AM (#3414457)
In the past, I've advocated as a compromise a limited two-platoon system, under which the starting pitcher could be lifted and replaced once in a game, either for a hitter or for an alternate pitcher.

I also hope that this competition committee actually does have some authority, because they would implement tweaks that would at least be meant to increase the pace of the games and decrease the three true outcomes and overall levels of scoring.
   19. PreservedFish Posted: December 16, 2009 at 09:35 AM (#3414458)
I believe Bill James said in one of his Baseball Abstracts that the DH actually increases, not decreases, the need for actual strategy.


I remember that he reached this conclusion in a silly manner. He looked at player substitutions per game, or something like that.

I like the DH just fine, for the very simple reason that I don't care to watch pitchers at the plate. I would rather see 9 MLB quality hitters.

But the DH absolutely diminishes in-game strategy, and every argument to the contrary reads like self-deluding nonsense, including #17.
   20. Repoz Posted: December 16, 2009 at 09:37 AM (#3414459)
I believe Bill James said in one of his Baseball Abstracts that the DH actually increases, not decreases, the need for actual strategy.

Didn't Bill later on move away from this somewhat?
   21. Tuque Posted: December 16, 2009 at 09:59 AM (#3414461)
How would you measure the squirrel's performance? Nuts Above Replacement Squirrel?

I'm for it, if only because NARS is a great acronym.
   22. Greg Goosen at 30 Posted: December 16, 2009 at 10:08 AM (#3414462)
Kill DH and squirrel. (Boris Badenov quote).
   23. Zipperholes Posted: December 16, 2009 at 10:20 AM (#3414463)
Any 11 year old who has been watching baseball for a year or two and possesses a functioning long term memory knows a major league manager will pinch hit for the pitcher late in the game with a two run or so deficit. That isn't really a decision, it's a reflex. On the other hand, with the DH, the manager actually has to decide whether the pitcher is too tired or too ineffective to keep in the game, whether that pitcher will be negatively affected in his next start if left in to pitch the eighth or ninth, etc.

All of this is true, but there are many other strategy decisions in the NL. For example, it's a close game and you have the pitcher coming up next inning. Do you double switch, bringing in a position player who might be a defensive downgrade, in order to take the bat out of the pitcher's hands? Or do you roll with your pitcher and just pinch hit for him? And what about a man on 2nd with 1 out and the pitcher up? Do you bunt and slightly increase the chance of the next guy knocking the runner in, or do you give yourself two chances at a run-scoring hit? There are plenty more situations throughout a game that only an NL manager has to deal with.
   24. Morty Causa Posted: December 16, 2009 at 10:20 AM (#3414464)
If I remember correctly, Bill James looked at bunting in the AL and the NL and found that in the NL it tended to be used as a matter of rote. No strategizing involved.

"I'm not an advocate of the Designated Hitter Rule; I'm only an advocate of seeing the truth and telling the truth. What the truth comes down to here is a question of in what does strategy reside? Does strategy exist in the act of bunting? If so the Designated Hitter Rule has reduced strategy. But if strategy exists in the decision about when a bunt should be used, then the DH rule has increased the differences of opinion which exist about that question, and thus increased strategy...[the research shows] that there is more of a difference of opinion, not less, in the American League." - Bill James in The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract (1986)

"The best case for the DH is this: It represents that rarest of things, the triumph of evidence over ideology. The anti-DH ideology is that there should be no specialization in baseball, no division of labor: Everyone should play "the whole game." That theory is obliterated by this fact: Specialization is a fact with or without the DH. Most pitchers only go through the motions at bat." - George F. Will in his book, Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball
   25. Nick Esasky's "Vertigo" Posted: December 16, 2009 at 10:26 AM (#3414465)
I'd be ok with keeping the DH in the minors as well, at least at the lower levels.


That's almost what you've got now.

The DH is universal through High-A, but at AA & AAA pitchers bat when when 2 NL affiliates play each other.
   26. Nick Esasky's "Vertigo" Posted: December 16, 2009 at 10:46 AM (#3414466)
"The best case for the DH is this: It represents that rarest of things, the triumph of evidence over ideology. The anti-DH ideology is that there should be no specialization in baseball, no division of labor: Everyone should play "the whole game." That theory is obliterated by this fact: Specialization is a fact with or without the DH. Most pitchers only go through the motions at bat." - George F. Will in his book, Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball


Seems like a good time to link to: George F. Will's Sports Machine
   27. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 16, 2009 at 10:49 AM (#3414468)
How awesome would it be if they required a tree to placed between 1st and 2nd base?
Depends. Would it have a Spider-Man logo on it, too?
   28. Something Other Posted: December 16, 2009 at 10:59 AM (#3414469)
How would you measure the squirrel's performance? Nuts Above Replacement Squirrel?

I'm for it, if only because NARS is a great acronym.
Allow me to respectfully suggest NUts above ReplacemenT Squirrel.
   29. Zipperholes Posted: December 16, 2009 at 10:59 AM (#3414470)
"The best case for the DH is this: It represents that rarest of things, the triumph of evidence over ideology. The anti-DH ideology is that there should be no specialization in baseball, no division of labor: Everyone should play "the whole game." That theory is obliterated by this fact: Specialization is a fact with or without the DH. Most pitchers only go through the motions at bat." - George F. Will in his book, Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball


This is illogical. For one, it equates a desire for the elimination of one type of specialization to a desire for the elimination of all specialization. It's not inconsistent, for example, to be anti-DH while supporting a rule allowing pinch-running. Two, the fact that most of one group of players are inept at a particular task doesn't equate to "specialization" in the same sense as a division of labor. And in any event, the phenomenon of pitchers "going through the motions at bat" isn't inherent in the fact that they bat; it's merely a result of several nuances of today's game, one of which is that a given pitcher's hitting respresents such a relatively small impact on his team that he doesn't put many resources into it.
   30. Morty Causa Posted: December 16, 2009 at 11:12 AM (#3414473)
How awesome would it be if they required a tree to placed between 1st and 2nd base?


Or make it official that should pitchers happen to get on base, they be required to immediately don Ronald McDonald shoes (instead of simply acting as if they are wearing Ronald McDonald shoes)? That, too would increase strategy, after all.
   31. AndrewJ Posted: December 16, 2009 at 11:25 AM (#3414474)
I'm no DH fan, but I could live with a system linking the starting pitcher with the DH -- when the starter leaves the game, the starting DH must also leave. You'd add a lot more strategy to the game (What if your pitcher's getting clobbered but your DH is red-hot? What if your DH is slumping but your pitcher's in the middle of a no-hitter?). As a result you might see an uptick in pitchers throwing complete games, which I could also live with...
   32. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq., LLC Posted: December 16, 2009 at 11:29 AM (#3414475)
Like many matters that the new committee may consider, including expanding the role of instant replay, a change in the DH rule would require approval of the players' union.
   33. Nick Esasky's "Vertigo" Posted: December 16, 2009 at 11:40 AM (#3414477)
I think the supposed abomination of "having to watch pitchers bat" is vastly overstated.

After all, except for certain rare occasions, only starters bat. And even then only so long as they earn their keep by pitching effectively.

With most starting pitchers only going 6 to 7 innings these days, that usually amounts to only 2, maybe 3, AB's per game.
   34. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 16, 2009 at 11:52 AM (#3414480)
Good. Kill the DH. Drive a stake into it's rotten little heart, then cut off the head and burn the body, just to be sure it never comes back.

Honestly, I wouldn't complain if you gave George Will the same treatment, the useless prat. But the DH first.
   35. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 16, 2009 at 12:08 PM (#3414488)
What LaRussa and Schuerholz really want is for NL teams to be spotted two runs in every interleague game.
   36. Koot Posted: December 16, 2009 at 12:23 PM (#3414490)
Nothing in baseball during the modern era has sparked stronger feelings than the DH rule. The AL has used it for 37 seasons, but the National League never has considered it strongly.


I feel more strongly about the stupidity of interleague play.
   37. Gamingboy Posted: December 16, 2009 at 12:31 PM (#3414492)
What LaRussa and Schuerholz really want is for NL teams to be spotted two runs in every interleague game.


And the All-Star Game.
   38. Downtown Bookie Posted: December 16, 2009 at 12:33 PM (#3414493)
From the article, partially quoted in # 32 above (with emphasis added by me):

Like many matters that the new committee may consider, including expanding the role of instant replay, a change in the DH rule would require approval of the players' union. Owners never have gone to the union to consider a change in the rules but could do that in the round of talks expected to begin in early 2011.


Perhaps I'm misremembering, but I seem to recall that during the early stages of one of the collective bargaining negotiations in the 1990s, the owners proposed the elimination of the DH in exchange for an additional roster spot (from twentyfive to twentysix). The union declined.

DB
   39. Nick Esasky's "Vertigo" Posted: December 16, 2009 at 12:35 PM (#3414494)
I feel more strongly about the stupidity of interleague play.


Agree...
   40. AndrewJ Posted: December 16, 2009 at 12:44 PM (#3414496)
I have stronger feelings against HFA going to the league winning the All-Star Game myself...
   41. calhounite Posted: December 16, 2009 at 12:51 PM (#3414498)
Solution. Leave the thing alone. It's the perfect tension between strategy and excution, and having a battle between the two augments the game. Getting a guy out there who can hit versus flexing around one who can't.

Plus there's a vast variability within. Some dh's suck. Some pitchers can hit. DH's can suck because a player who's worth a crap generally brought up with a glove. Really no such thing as a dh prospect. So that leaves the old farts who can't especially since the dh leads them to stick around too long anyway.

And there's never been a pitcher who "goes through the motions." You don't bat 030 against major league stuff doing one of the hardest jobs possible (getting a hit) going through the motions.
   42. Lassus Posted: December 16, 2009 at 01:02 PM (#3414501)
It already exists in high school --- often it is not used for pitchers.

Well, that's just disgusting.
   43. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq., LLC Posted: December 16, 2009 at 01:24 PM (#3414510)
Perhaps I'm misremembering, but I seem to recall that during the early stages of one of the collective bargaining negotiations in the 1990s, the owners proposed the elimination of the DH in exchange for an additional roster spot (from twentyfive to twentysix). The union declined.
It's not surprising that the MLBPA would decline that. Eliminating the DH today would replace 14 starting player with 14 bench players, and I don't think adding 30 more bench players would even that out.
   44. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 16, 2009 at 01:43 PM (#3414526)
Well, that's just disgusting.

Not only can you DH for any player on the field, but the DH can be inserted on defense and even become the player DH'd for. You can double-switch with the DH! The DH can become the pitcher and the pitcher can become the DH! Cats and dogs living together, I tell you.
   45. Cooper Nielson Posted: December 16, 2009 at 01:59 PM (#3414535)
But thanks to Commissioner Bud Selig’s decision to turn recommendations for on-field matters over to a newly created version of the NFL’s Competition Committee,

Selig never shies away from making the difficult decisions... like the decision to form a committee to make the difficult decisions.
   46. Frisco Cali Posted: December 16, 2009 at 02:14 PM (#3414551)
Wait, what kind of tree would it be?
   47. Hack Wilson Posted: December 16, 2009 at 02:25 PM (#3414563)
Wait, what kind of tree would it be?


I'm not sure but colleges would probably use aluminum trees.
   48. Sheer Tim Foli Posted: December 16, 2009 at 02:36 PM (#3414574)
I've said it before and I'll say it again. Transparent walls along the foul lines forcing all balls to stay in play. Let's get rid of fouls and keep the game moving.

Also I like the tree between home and the mound.

Also can we please allow stealing first as an option.

Also - a serious point - the commissioner is only an employee of the owners. This committee has no authority and advises the commissioner who advises the owners. The owners have had the power and the opportunity to make all the changes they see fit. I expect whatever changes the owners have planned are going to come anyway committee or not.
   49. Shredder Posted: December 16, 2009 at 02:50 PM (#3414597)
Yeah, I'm sure the MLBPA would have absolutely no problem with killing the DH.

How awesome would it be if they required a tree to placed between 1st and 2nd base?
It would be awful. Games would last forever. The squirrel would break for second, climb the tree, and no one would ever be able to tag him out. Teams would have to train monkeys to play second base, which, coincidentally, could also be studied and recommended by this panel.
   50. Sheer Tim Foli Posted: December 16, 2009 at 02:52 PM (#3414599)
Teams would have to train monkeys to play second base, which, coincidentally, could also be studied and recommended by this panel

What if we compose the panel entirely of monkees?
   51. TerpNats Posted: December 16, 2009 at 02:53 PM (#3414600)
Were the DH to be phased out, it could be done by having each AL franchise designate one player on its roster as its only DH; once he leaves the roster, through trade or retirement, that team no longer has a DH. The DH would be employed only in games where both teams had a DH on the roster and in the starting batting order.

Someone would end up as the Burleigh Grimes of DHs...but who?
   52. Hack Wilson Posted: December 16, 2009 at 02:55 PM (#3414603)
Someone would end up as the Burleigh Grimes of DHs...but who?


Julio Franco
   53. SouthSidePat Posted: December 16, 2009 at 02:56 PM (#3414604)
As far as the DH goes, why are people always either for or against it? The DH defines the AL. The lack of it defines the NL. Also, it lends itself to good debates, which baseball fans love. I like it the way it is.
   54. Sheer Tim Foli Posted: December 16, 2009 at 02:56 PM (#3414605)
Were the DH to be phased out, it could be done by having each AL franchise designate one player on its roster as its only DH; once he leaves the roster, through trade or retirement, that team no longer has a DH.

I would for that as long as he can bring his grandfathered DH with him - even to NL teams.
   55. OsunaSakata Posted: December 16, 2009 at 02:56 PM (#3414606)
Put me down as in favor of the status quo. And don't give me that B.S. about having two sets of rules. The differences in ballparks are bigger than the DH rules.

The MLBPA would never go for eliminating the DH in exchange for adding a roster spot. That would reduce salaries. Whether a full time DH becomes a pinch hitter or drives a regular to the bench, that's one less full time player with a full time size salary to pay. Most likely, those roster spots would go to 30 ineffective relief pitchers.

The MLBPA might agree to trading the DH for two expansion teams.
   56. The Lovesong of J. Alfredo Griffin Posted: December 16, 2009 at 03:09 PM (#3414623)
Yeah, I'm sure the MLBPA would have absolutely no problem with killing the DH.


I think that's murder 1, they'll put you away for that. That said, I'm all for it.
   57. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: December 16, 2009 at 03:19 PM (#3414638)
Selig never shies away from making the difficult decisions... like the decision to form a committee to make the difficult decisions.


Right, because Selig would be embraced by this Board, the Union, Owners and Fans, if he unilaterally issued a press release announcing that the DH will be phased out in 2012 among other changes.
   58. Craig in MN Posted: December 16, 2009 at 03:38 PM (#3414663)
I have no problem with the status quo. The one interesting suggestion I've heard is to allow the home team to decide if there will be a DH or not for each game. That was mostly suggested for interleague/WS games, but could work in broader use as well. I think if there is any change....this should be it.

Also, I think it would be interesting to take a poll of owners/GMs to see if they would like to see the DH expanded/eliminated. For being such a sticking point for so many, no one seems to really ask the people in charge to think about if there should be a change.
   59. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 16, 2009 at 03:43 PM (#3414671)
"As far as the DH goes, why are people always either for or against it?"

As far as pederasty goes, why are people always either for it or against it?
   60. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 16, 2009 at 03:43 PM (#3414673)
"I have no problem with the status quo."

I agree. "Pictures of Matchstick Men" makes up for a lot of ills.
   61. SoSH U at work Posted: December 16, 2009 at 03:51 PM (#3414682)
As far as the DH goes, why are people always either for or against it? The DH defines the AL. The lack of it defines the NL. Also, it lends itself to good debates, which baseball fans love. I like it the way it is.


That's me. I'm on record as preferring more differences between the leagues, not fewer.
   62. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: December 16, 2009 at 04:23 PM (#3414728)
Ooh, a committee! Those are always really effective.
   63. Bunny Vincennes Posted: December 16, 2009 at 06:09 PM (#3414950)
I have no problem with the status quo. The one interesting suggestion I've heard is to allow the home team to decide if there will be a DH or not for each game. That was mostly suggested for interleague/WS games, but could work in broader use as well. I think if there is any change....this should be it.



I'm envisioning Dusty Baker deciding to go with the DH, and then using Shawn Dunston to be the DH.
   64. Sexy Lizard Posted: December 16, 2009 at 06:40 PM (#3414995)
That's me. I'm on record as preferring more differences between the leagues, not fewer.

Agreed. I'd love to see the NL adopt a few of the various suggestions people have put forth to limit offense (starting with a thicker bat handle) and stake out a real divide in the leagues. Make the NL a contact and speed league while the AL goes down the Three True Outcomes route. That would also make interleague play into great theater, with players on the visiting team forced to deal with changes in the basic equipment they're using.
   65. I am Ted F'ing Williams Posted: December 16, 2009 at 07:11 PM (#3415062)
"the DH rule could face its first real threat since the American League accepted it permanently for the 1976 season"

Or the DH rule could be cemented as part of the National League. But Phil Rogers would have a hissy fit over that. The more hissy fits from Phil Rogers the better.
   66. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: December 16, 2009 at 07:14 PM (#3415066)
Agreed. I'd love to see the NL adopt a few of the various suggestions people have put forth to limit offense (starting with a thicker bat handle) and stake out a real divide in the leagues. Make the NL a contact and speed league while the AL goes down the Three True Outcomes route. That would also make interleague play into great theater, with players on the visiting team forced to deal with changes in the basic equipment they're using.

That would be pretty awesome (although I would be in favor of eliminating interleague play, making the World Series into great theater), but unfortunately that's the opposite of the direction things have been going. MLB has been moving to make the leagues more like each other ever since Selig took over. The DH is really the only distinguishing feature left.
   67. AJMcCringleberry Posted: December 16, 2009 at 07:18 PM (#3415073)
I think the supposed abomination of "having to watch pitchers bat" is vastly overstated.

Clearly you have never seen Al Leiter "hit".
   68. The Original SJ Posted: December 16, 2009 at 07:22 PM (#3415078)
I am fine with keeping it as is, though I would like to see the DH in NL parks during interleague, bring something different to the hometown fans, ya dig?
   69. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 16, 2009 at 07:22 PM (#3415080)
Teams would have to train monkeys to play second base

So it's all just a plot to benefit the Angels.

I'm envisioning Dusty Baker deciding to go with the DH, and then using Shawn Dunston to be the DH.

Nothing Joe Torre hasn't already done.
   70. Miserable, Non-Binary Candy is all we deserve CoB Posted: December 16, 2009 at 07:23 PM (#3415081)
Why not let the playing field decide?

Why not make the question of the use of the DH a true "grounds rule"?

Let every team decide, prior to each season whether the DH would be used in games played at their home stadium.

Instant strategy, as every team would be acting and reacting to each other in deciding whether to permit the DH to leverage an advantage they might have, or eliminate the DH to remove the advantage of another team.
   71. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: December 16, 2009 at 07:26 PM (#3415087)
Clearly you have never seen Al Leiter "hit".

My favorite is Aaron Harang. He's actually gotten better the past couple of seasons (and hit his first career home run in 2009), but his career line is pretty hilarious - .091/.101/.107 in 442 plate appearances.
   72. SoSH U at work Posted: December 16, 2009 at 07:29 PM (#3415094)
He's actually gotten better the past couple of seasons (and hit his first career home run in 2009), but his career line is pretty hilarious - .091/.101/.107 in 442 plate appearances.


That's the only game I've ever attended at Wrigley. As far as I could tell, few in the crowd appreciated the magnitude of that blast.
   73. Davo Posted: December 16, 2009 at 07:34 PM (#3415107)
It already exists in high school --- often it is not used for pitchers.

Well, that's just disgusting.
I was the designated right-fielder on my high school team.

I would support allowing a designated hitter, but not allowing him to take the pitcher's place--ie, the designated hitter would bat for each team's light-hitting defensive specialist. Adam Everett would be an MVP!!!
   74. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: December 16, 2009 at 07:35 PM (#3415110)
As far as I could tell, few in the crowd appreciated the magnitude of that blast.

I wonder if Randy Wells appreciates it.
   75. Downtown Bookie Posted: December 16, 2009 at 08:01 PM (#3415146)
I'd love to see the NL adopt a few of the various suggestions people have put forth to limit offense (starting with a thicker bat handle) and stake out a real divide in the leagues. Make the NL a contact and speed league while the AL goes down the Three True Outcomes route. That would also make interleague play into great theater, with players on the visiting team forced to deal with changes in the basic equipment they're using.


Personally, I would find this very interesting. However, it should be pointed out that the National League did do this, back in the 1930's. After the offensive explosion of the 1930 season, the National League began using a less lively ball than the American League, creating quite a difference in the amount of runs scored between the two leagues (the intended result) along with quite a difference in the size of the fan base between the two leagues (the unintended result). The bottom line was that the American League, with more fans had more money to sign more young stars (remember, this was long before there was a player draft), which gave them more fans and thus more money to sign even more young stars, which led to the American League being the dominant Major League for the better part of two decades.

So, again, while I personally would find it interesting, you can see why the National League owners may be reluctant to go that route.

DB
   76. Steve Treder Posted: December 16, 2009 at 08:12 PM (#3415162)
along with quite a difference in the size of the fan base between the two leagues (the unintended result). The bottom line was that the American League, with more fans had more money to sign more young stars (remember, this was long before there was a player draft), which gave them more fans and thus more money to sign even more young stars, which led to the American League being the dominant Major League for the better part of two decades.

Um ... no.

NL vs. AL attendance/game, 1925-60:

1925 0.84
1926 1.00
1927 1.15
1928 1.16
1929 1.05
1930 1.16
1931 1.18
1932 1.22
1933 1.06
1934 0.86
1935 0.98
1936 0.93
1937 0.89
1938 1.03
1939 1.10
1940 0.81
1941 0.97
1942 1.03
1943 1.01
1944 0.82
1945 0.93
1946 0.93
1947 1.10
1948 0.87
1949 0.88
1950 0.91
1951 0.81
1952 0.77
1953 1.06
1954 1.02
1955 0.86
1956 1.09
1957 1.07
1958 1.40
1959 1.09
1960 1.15

The difference in ball resilience, and thus in scoring rates between the leagues, was in effect from 1931-41.
   77. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 16, 2009 at 08:17 PM (#3415177)
Why not make the question of the use of the DH a true "grounds rule"?


Because if you did, some of them might decide to use it.
   78. PreservedFish Posted: December 16, 2009 at 08:38 PM (#3415201)
Were the DH to be phased out, it could be done by having each AL franchise designate one player on its roster as its only DH; once he leaves the roster, through trade or retirement, that team no longer has a DH. The DH would be employed only in games where both teams had a DH on the roster and in the starting batting order.

Someone would end up as the Burleigh Grimes of DHs...but who?


I love this idea. But I'm ignoring the last rule.

As long as the DH could hit over .150 he would be a strong component to the team. A talented and willing player would surely be able to go past age 50.

If you choose the right guy you have an opportunity of getting 30 years out of your DH, probably 20 of them coming after almost every other team has forfeited the position. Most of the teams would have a very difficult choice, though. Maybe all of them.
   79. Downtown Bookie Posted: December 16, 2009 at 08:44 PM (#3415208)
Um ... no.


Really? Am I reading your chart wrong? Because unless I am, it shows the American League leading the National League in 1934,35,36 & 37, four straight years after the National League had led or tied the AL for eight straight years. It seems obvious to me that something happened to cause that shift, so I don't see how you can say "um....no" (unless, again, I'm totally misreading your chart).

DB
   80. Downtown Bookie Posted: December 16, 2009 at 08:53 PM (#3415214)
Just to follow-up, if we look at the period from 1934 to 1953 (since I had said, in my earlier post "which led to the American League being the dominant Major League for the better part of two decades" we have 20 seasons, 14 of which the American League led the National League in attendence (70%). Considering that the National League had led or tied the American League for eight straight seasons prior to that streak, I don't see how this can be viewed as anything other than a dramatic shift in the fan base from the one league to the other.

DB
   81. Steve Treder Posted: December 16, 2009 at 08:55 PM (#3415216)
Am I reading your chart wrong? Because unless I am, it shows the American League leading the National League in 1934,35,36 & 37, four straight years after the National League had led or tied the AL for eight straight years. It seems obvious to me that something happened to cause that shift, so I don't see how you can say "um....no" (unless, again, I'm totally misreading your chart).

Well, if something happened to cause that shift, then something further must have happened to cause the immediate shift right back in the opposite direction for the next two years, and then something yet again further must have happened to cause yet another immediate shift again for the next two years ... all of which is going on while the NL is using the lesser-resilient ball.

And do different offensive levels between the leagues explain the shifts occurring in 1926-27, 1947, 1948, 1953, 1955, and 1956?

And in any case, the overall attendance between the leagues was precisely equal over the 1931-41 period in question (exactly 1.00, in fact): how in the world does one square that fact with the sweeping conclusion that, "the American League, with more fans had more money to sign more young stars (remember, this was long before there was a player draft), which gave them more fans and thus more money to sign even more young stars, which led to the American League being the dominant Major League for the better part of two decades."

Instead what the facts very strongly suggest is that any attendance advantage between the leagues wavered back and forth in the 1920s, 30s, 40s, and early 50s in a more or less random pattern that was independent of any run-scoring rates in either league. And most definitely the facts don't support any assertion that either league had "more fans and thus more money" to be doing any dominating throughout this period.

Now, the late '50s through late '70s -- there the facts do strongly suggest otherwise.
   82. Gaelan Posted: December 16, 2009 at 08:57 PM (#3415220)
The AL is never going to drop the DH. It strikes me as likely, however, that the NL will adopt the DH during our lifetime. This competition committee makes this more likely. Hence the writer has everything backwards.
   83. Steve Treder Posted: December 16, 2009 at 09:01 PM (#3415228)
if we look at the period from 1934 to 1953 (since I had said, in my earlier post "which led to the American League being the dominant Major League for the better part of two decades" we have 20 seasons, 14 of which the American League led the National League in attendence (70%).

Over that carefully-endpoint-chosen 20-year period, the AL did indeed enjoy an overall attendance advantage over the NL -- of a whopping 6%.

THAT's what you're basing your conclusion of economic/competitive dominance upon?

EDIT: If we just change the endpoints to 1931 through 1950 -- just as arbitrary a 20-year span -- the difference shrinks to 2%.
   84. O Tempura, O Morays ('Spos) Posted: December 16, 2009 at 09:10 PM (#3415241)
DH for everyone!
BOOOOO
Ok No DH for anyone!
BOOOOO
Ok DH for some Tiny American flags for others!
YAY!!!!!


Why not raise the mound in NL parks too?
   85. Downtown Bookie Posted: December 16, 2009 at 09:14 PM (#3415247)
Over that carefully-endpoint-chosen 20-year period, the AL did indeed enjoy an overall attendance advantage over the NL -- of a whopping 6%.


Well, I did say the better part of two decades in my first post, right? 8-) And certainly it's not unreasonable to suggest that it took some time for the fans to see what was going on, and then to actually do something about it (I mean, you wouldn't expect them to notice on Opening Day, 1931, and immediately start watching games played by the other league, would you? Look how long it took the modern day fan to figure out something different was going on Coors Field, until MLB 'fessed up and admitted they were using a humidor).

Still, I can see in your numbers how "dominance" is an overstatement of what was going on; so therefore I retract that unfortunate phrasing, as it's clear that I overstated my case. Still, I stand by my (now considerably modified) point that the National League's switch to a less lively ball in the 1930's created a significant shift in the fan base between the two leagues.

DB
   86. Steve Treder Posted: December 16, 2009 at 09:25 PM (#3415258)
Still, I can see in your numbers how "dominance" is an overstatement of what was going on; so therefore I retract that unfortunate phrasing, as it's clear that I overstated my case.

Thank you for your gracious retraction.

Still, I stand by my (now considerably modified) point that the National League's switch to a less lively ball in the 1930's created a significant shift in the fan base between the two leagues.

Well, I'm unconvinced that the attendance data supports a "significant shift" beyond the oscillations that were regularly occurring through every decade of the first half of the 20th century, and thus unconvinced that we can deduce any causality to the 1931-41 ball resilience difference. But I'm fine if we agree to disagree on that.
   87. 185/456(GGC) Posted: December 16, 2009 at 09:31 PM (#3415265)
The AL is never going to drop the DH. It strikes me as likely, however, that the NL will adopt the DH during our lifetime. This competition committee makes this more likely. Hence the writer has everything backwards.


The MLBPA never did anything, AFAICT, but I think some players felt that the DH might lead to roster shrinkage back in the early days of its implementation.
   88. Downtown Bookie Posted: December 16, 2009 at 09:34 PM (#3415271)
Well, I'm unconvinced that the attendance data supports a "significant shift" beyond the oscillations that were regularly occurring through every decade of the first half of the 20th century, and thus unconvinced that we can deduce any causality to the 1931-41 ball resilience difference. But I'm fine if we agree to disagree on that.


Sounds good to me.

DB
   89. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 16, 2009 at 09:52 PM (#3415298)
I'd be absolutely amazed if attendance had much at all to do with anything like average runs scored. Far more likely would be the competitiveness of the league, the number of recognizable stars, the newness of the ballparks, the general economy, and in the case of the 1950's and 60's, the existence of Milwaukee / Los Angeles / San Francisco / the Mets.
   90. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: December 16, 2009 at 10:04 PM (#3415304)
I think the supposed abomination of "having to watch pitchers bat" is vastly overstated.

Clearly you have never seen Al Leiter "hit".


Al Leiter, hell--Dean Chance blows everyone away
   91. Steve Treder Posted: December 16, 2009 at 10:06 PM (#3415308)
I'd be absolutely amazed if attendance had much at all to do with anything like average runs scored.

I've analyzed it. It doesn't.
   92. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 16, 2009 at 10:10 PM (#3415311)
I'd be absolutely amazed if attendance had much at all to do with anything like average runs scored.

I've analyzed it. It doesn't.


Do you have a down and dirty on what the most important factors would be, other than what I just listed above?
   93. Steve Treder Posted: December 16, 2009 at 10:39 PM (#3415342)
Do you have a down and dirty on what the most important factors would be, other than what I just listed above?

Well, the NL absolutely dominated in attendance from the mid-1950s until about 1980. And I mean, dominated, there was no back-and-forth oscillation, the NL absolutely dominated in attendance in those years. Here, let's look at the data:

NL/AL attendance/game, 1955-1980:

1955 0.86
1956 1.09
1957 1.07
1958 1.40
1959 1.09
1960 1.15
1961 1.13
1962 1.13
1963 1.25
1964 1.31
1965 1.53
1966 1.47
1967 1.14
1968 1.04
1969 1.24
1970 1.38
1971 1.45
1972 1.36
1973 1.24
1974 1.30
1975 1.25
1976 1.13
1977 1.13
1978 1.15
1979 1.10
1980 1.12

After the introduction of the DH rule in the AL in 1973, the gap closed somewhat, but it was still huge. And overall through this period, relative scoring rates between the leagues were essentially equal. So runs had precious little if anything to do with it.

The explanation for this rests largely upon the NL's far more aggressive racial integration, which established a distinctly higher quality of play in the NL that persisted until at least the mid-1970s. And on top of this, the NL was almost always first to grab the most lucrative new markets: first Milwaukee, then Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, and Atlanta, while the AL was settling for Baltimore, Kansas City, and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Here's what happened following 1980:

1981 1.03
1982 1.09
1983 1.05
1984 1.01
1985 1.06
1986 1.04
1987 1.06
1988 1.00
1989 0.99
1990 0.94
1991 0.90
1992 0.89
1993 1.11
1994 1.06
1995 0.99
1996 1.02
1997 1.02
1998 1.04
1999 1.05
2000 1.09
2001 1.06
2002 1.05
2003 1.04
2004 1.07
2005 1.09
2006 1.06
2007 1.09
2008 1.12

With the DH in place in the AL through this entire period, the AL has unequivocally been the higher-scoring league. Yet in only a few seasons in these years did the AL have higher attendance/game, and interestingly, through the decade of the 2000s, when nearly every knowledgable observer assesses that the AL has presented a higher quality of play, the NL has reasserted its attendance advantage.

I'm not sure what to make of the pattern in recent decades, but what's utterly certain is that league-wide scoring conditions have absolutely nothing to do with it.
   94. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: December 16, 2009 at 10:39 PM (#3415343)
Al Leiter, hell--Dean Chance blows everyone away

By OPS+ (which has its flaws) -

Leiter - -34
Harang - -46
Chance - -46

That's some terrible hitting right there.
   95. Blackadder Posted: December 16, 2009 at 10:58 PM (#3415375)
I'm pro-DH, but I don't feel too strongly about it. I think it would be pretty funny if the NL adopted it, though, just to see mass ritualized suicide of all the anti-DH zealots.

I'm also somewhat amused that fans of a vastly inferior league are accusing the superior league of not watching "real" baseball.
   96. Ron Johnson Posted: December 16, 2009 at 11:09 PM (#3415386)
After the introduction of the DH rule in the AL in 1973, the gap closed somewhat


That's somewhat deceptive (not on your part, but rather the AL's). The AL changed the way attendance was counted in 1973 while the NL didn't change until sometime in the 80s. They went to tickets sold rather than tickets used and it appears to have inflated attendance by ~10%.
   97. Steve Treder Posted: December 16, 2009 at 11:12 PM (#3415393)
That's somewhat deceptive (not on your part, but rather the AL's). The AL changed the way attendance was counted in 1973 while the NL didn't change until sometime in the 80s. They went to tickets sold rather than tickets used and it appears to have inflated attendance by ~10%.

Ah! Very good point.

OTOH, a ticket sold is revenue; not as much revenue as an attending fan shelling out for concessions, but a lot more revenue than zero. I'm not sure that accounting isn't more accurate.
   98. Ron Johnson Posted: December 16, 2009 at 11:24 PM (#3415403)
Steve, I think it's pretty clear that the reason they switched was to bolster the argument for the DH. That it happens to have theoretical merit is a nice bonus.

To be clear -- I'm ambivalent/leaning towards support for the DH, but I'm always in favor of beating back the attempts to lie via manipulating the numbers.

Incidentally I've looked for evidence to support the contention that run scoring increases attendance and have never found any. Basically from what I can see fans will take winning by any manner it happens.
   99. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: December 16, 2009 at 11:28 PM (#3415407)
I've looked for evidence to support the contention that run scoring increases attendance and have never found any. Basically from what I can see fans will take winning by any manner it happens.

So you're saying that chicks don't dig the long ball?
   100. karkovice squad (0OPS) Posted: December 16, 2009 at 11:34 PM (#3415416)
MLB sets up mechanism that could ban DH


If they're really interested in evening out the level of competition, they ought to first ban the "tremor hit" and "iron ball," or let everybody use them.
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