Blog Entry

Interleague Play Brings Us Back to DH Discussion

Posted on: May 19, 2009 1:29 pm
 
This weekend is the first weekend of interleague play for the 2009 Major League Baseball season.  Only the Padres and Cubs are exempt from interleague play this weekend as they have a series in San Diego beginning on Friday.  So the question is, as it will be asked mainly by visiting team announcers this weekend, should there still be a DH rule in the American League, and should the National League allow the pitcher to bat or should both leagues adopt the same rule?  Here are my thoughts on both the DH rule and allowing the pitcher to bat.

I'll start first with the Senior Circuit.  Growing up in the 1980's if you had cable, you got 162 games of the Braves and Cubs.  There was the about once a week Orioles game shown on local TV here in North Carolina as we are in their market as far as the American League goes, but unless the American League had the Saturday Afternoon game of the week, there was no other American League exposure here until playoff time.  Watching the pitcher bat can be sometimes painful, what's worse was seeing the batter hitting 8th get walked, who was batting around .223 with no homeruns so they could get to the pitcher's spot was even more painful.  However, not only does the pitcher pitch, he fields a position as well.  How many of you grew up wanting to bat first at your neighbor's or family's house and get told, you know after you bat, you have to go out there and field the ball?  It sounds like a reward to bat doesn't it because you put time in catching flyballs and fielding grounders to justify you get your time to hit.  National League rules make it where the pitcher gets "rewarded" for fielding their position, even though American League fans probably don't see that as a reward.  The DH allows a player to not have to go to the field, all he has to do is swing a bat, thus exempt from playing the field, against the ideals I grew up with.  There are some very good hitting pitchers though and that spans into both leagues.  Micah Owings, Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster swing a decent bat in the National League, and CC Sabathia can swing the bat too with the Yankees and what about Andy Sonnanstine.

Another pro National League ideal about letting the pitcher bat is he can help his own cause.  The days of walking the number eight hitter have dwindled quite a bit.  I'm unsure if Rey Ordonez having an absurd amount of intentional walks when he was with the Mets batting eight had anything to do with this, but it seems like the pitcher's spot leads off a lot of innings in today's game.  It is up to the pitcher to usually sacrifice a runner over to second or third when there are less than two outs in the inning.  He gets the job done, the leadoff hitter gets an RBI chance, if not, he strikes out and the runners are still there.  Wins and losses are a team stat, but also a pitcher's as well.  Tight ballgame, pitcher get the job done, if you get the loss though by a run and you didn't help your cause, shoulder the blame.

The DH rule does have it's positives.  First thing that comes to mind before anything is injuries to pitchers.  Chien Ming Wang has not recovered from running the bases at the Astros last year.  He hurt his right foot running the bases because he was not used to it.  The Yankees have stated his pitching woes this season stem from that incident last season.  Also as mentioned earlier Carlos Zambrano is a very good hitting pitcher, and he will come off the DL this Friday in San Diego.  He led off the fifth inning vs the Marlins with a bunt single and pulled his hamstring.  Had the DH been in place, neither would have gotten hurt.

Also not having to hit, the pitcher has one thing to focus on, getting the other team's batters out.  The pitcher does not have to worry about any batting practice, running the bases, and what the other pitcher may throw him in his at bat.  He does not have to worry about coming out of the game in the sixth or seventh inning in a tight game because the number nine spot is due up that inning.  Any extra time studying the other teams hitters on film, in who cannot catch up to a fastball, who will go for the slider in the dirt can be invaluable to a good performance.

There are more arguments to this debate, I just touched on two for each side.  We know the American League will always have the DH, because the Player's Union does not want to see it go out the door.  I cannot see the National League accepting the DH because something needs to distinguish both leagues, as now they both have the same umpires, so really besides that rule both leagues are pretty much the same.

One final argument it seems comes up quite a bit and did again this past Saturday.  John Lackey threw two pitches at Ian Kinsler and was ejected after pitch two hit him.  On TV that night, retired players were saying oh if the pitchers hit in the American League, they would not do that, since they would have to bat.  That theory should be dismissed for one reason.  When have you seen a pitcher throw at another pitcher?  You don't the reason, that's pretty much a guarenteed out.  The strategy that goes into a National League game with the pitcher batting, or seeing a very good batter hit for the pitcher all game, which rule do you prefer?  
Category: MLB
Comments

Since: Apr 17, 2009
Posted on: May 20, 2009 4:35 pm
 

Interleague Play Brings Us Back to DH Discussion

I agree with  that MLB may be better off doing away with interleague. The novelty has worn off for the most part. Although the games do sell out more than the average game, so while most fans I hear don't like it, the ticket sales tell a different story. And the almighty dollar will dictate how MLB deals with interleague play.

I have been an advocate for the DH over the years. I get the purist argument too. I also see the point where if a team has a good hitting pitcher, that is part of the natural advantage. It's also fun to see pitcher against pitcher, especially when the batting version shows up his hurling counterpart. But lets remember that its special only because it happens so infrequently. Most of these guys go up there & feign at a couple bunt attempts, then waive at a third pitch & walk back to the dugout. To me there is a lot more value in seeing guys like Edgar Martinez, or Jim Thome have long careers who otherwise wouldn't have. Both of these guys were athletic enough to play some D when they came up. But injuries & their bad legs / back would have made it impossible for them to play for so many years were it not for the DH. Today's game is a game of specialization, for better or for worse. So the DH is a natural fit. Look at the newest guy on the block; Matt Gamel. Gamel by all accounts will be a terrefic hitter, but really has no position. One side of the arguments would put him on the bench because he is behind a great bat already at 1B, & has nowhere to go. But in my opinion he has a tremendous skill on the offensive side of the game, so there should be a place for him to display it & help a team.

This skill is at the krux of my argument. If a guy like Pat Burell, who is still good enough to be very productive at the plate wants to continue his career & can help a club like Tampa for a few more season's, why not? In the N.L. he may struggle to see consistent action because of his detoriating speed & overall defensive ability. So those two guys right there are prime examples. The DH could give a young guy an oppertunity he might not have otherwise recieved, and it can extend the career of a slugger who is not able to put in a full season in the field. And in some ways it helps the attending fans too. If I go see my favorite team only once or twice a year, there is a chance he will have the day off, especially if it's a day game. But with the DH, that day off translates into 4 AB's (unless your manager is Joe Maddon). Basically like I say, the pitcher hitting is maybe a more natural way to play the game. But the pitcher is a specialist, who (for the majority of pitchers) only does one thing well. Most offensive players do two things well, or at least well enough. But there are a few who excel in one area (hitting), and can't help a team with the glove. I think there is a place for those guys in MLB.

I don't really advocate adding the DH in the N.L. I think the split adds an element to the dynamics of baseball. It allows for a more traditional style, while allowing a player who fits the criteria the oppertunity to extend his career by playing in th A.L. But if I were forced to choose one style of play, I would choose the DH for both leagues. I just think it adds value by improving the product on the field.



Since: Jun 18, 2007
Posted on: May 20, 2009 12:48 pm
 

Interleague Play Brings Us Back to DH Discussion

I have never been bothered by the DH.  I can't honestly say that I find anything compelling about watching a pitcher swing like an overmatched Little Leaguer and I enjoy watching some of the older stars continue lengthen their careers by DHing.  Of course I can understand the purist's viewpoint, especially being a follower of baseball lore.

The bottom line for me though is that I like the fact that the two leagues are different and play different styles of baseball.  Baseball is unique among the major sports in this area and I think it give the game a certain charm.  That said, I have no interest in interleague play and frankly, I would like to see the plug pulled on the interleague experiment right now.

Being a Yankee fan, I would rather see my team play anyone other than the Nationals.  Furthermore, the fact that the defending champs from Phillies are coming in for three games this weekend is irrelevent.  What is the point since we aren't competing with them for anything.  Then we have the home-and-home with the Mets which is just a carnival.

I know that interleague has been a money-maker for baseball, especially in the smaller market cities, but when you are matching teams up with opponents witch whom they do not compete, the games come off as little more than exhibition games.  Inerleague play reminds me more of the World Baseball Classic, than it does actual major league baseball.

I would like to see MLB go back to separating the leagues completely until the World Series.  It's nice to have that air of mystery surrouding the unknown quantity from the other league.  So let the leagues evolve by their own rules, and then in October we'll see which is better and we can keep arguing these points forevermore.




Since: Jan 21, 2008
Posted on: May 20, 2009 12:47 pm
 

Interleague Play Brings Us Back to DH Discussion

weather its the AL or NL pitchers need to bat. Think about it, growing up and playing baseball if u were a pitcher u took ur turn to bat. Pitching is just one part or being a baseball player, u also need to hit. its not like they never took an a bat before and this is there first time. im TIRED of all the AL fans who argue about this, for god sakes ur a pro baseball player and act like, go up to the plate and take ur hacks just like everyone else. if u get hurt running the bases or swinging at the ball then u just not in good shape to begin with. case in point, the yankees pitcher last year who hurt him self running the bases and then all AL managers through a big fit over AL pitchers shouldnt bat cause it could hurt ur star pitcher. boo hoo, stop ur crying injuries are part of the game no matter what position u play. next thing u know managers wont want there  star Pitchers to pitch in case of a liner comeing back up the middle and hitting them. then we will just be paying them to sit the bench and give advice to the younger guys until they get good and then the cycle continues. GIVE IT A REST AL FANS UR PITCHER NEEDS TO COME TO THE PLATE AND BAT LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.



Since: Jan 24, 2007
Posted on: May 20, 2009 8:47 am
 

Interleague Play Brings Us Back to DH Discussion

i think they should do away with the DH in the American League and get back to baseball as it was when it started...just think if pitchers didn't hit we would have never known what Babe Ruth could have done!

sure it adds offense to the American league games, but takes away the thinking part of the game from the manager and other players.  it is great to see opposing managers have to work their lineups for pinch hitters and double switches when the time is needed...the DH has turned the American league into an offensive league with an emphasis on pitching second. 

you can argue that the pitcher is an easy out, so why not make it harder with another hitter, well why not let the pitcher help himself out, heck this year Gallardo hit a 3 run homer for the brewers to win the game against the Giants, without it we would have had extra innings or who knows what.  well being a brewer fan and watching them since the switch to the National League has been great, more players get a chance to play, if it is pinch hitting, pinch running, fielding decision switches, etc...more of a game of a baseball vs the American League where whoever has the most home run hitters wins.  that is why i feel it takes away from the game of baseball.  also there is no way a pitcher should not be able to hit, they hit all the way through high school, and some play other positions in college, then all of sudden they get to the American League and they don't have to hit? why? what is the point?  and as for National league pitchers, not sure why they all of sudden look foolish with a bat in their hands after they leave high school for 3 years...

basically i think the DH has no place in baseball, i believe their is enough offense in the game and that is all this position is there for is to provide additional offense for the fans that don't respect a complete game of baseball, the action, the thinking, the talent, the sportsmanship, the underdog pitcher coming through with a hit or a bunt to win the game.

everyone has their own opinion to this which is great, i don't agree with the injury issue as a reason for a DH, if your pitcher can't run to first, then he should be out there anyways, he has just as much as of chance to get hurt reaching for the remote at home as he does running the bases.

lets get back to pure baseball, the way we grew up playing, when was the last time you were playing in a game in your backyard or in the street where the pitchers didn't hit because you wanted a DH!



Since: May 3, 2007
Posted on: May 20, 2009 3:31 am
 

Interleague Play Brings Us Back to DH Discussion

This weekend is the first weekend of interleague play for the 2009 Major League Baseball season.  Only the and are exempt from interleague play this weekend as they have a series in San Diego beginning on Friday.  So the question is, as it will be asked mainly by visiting team announcers this weekend, should there still be a DH rule in the American League, and should the National League allow the pitcher to bat or should both leagues adopt the same rule?  Here are my thoughts on both the DH rule and allowing the pitcher to bat.

I'll start first with the Senior Circuit.  Growing up in the 1980's if you had cable, you got 162 games of the and Cubs.  There was the about once a week game shown on local TV here in North Carolina as we are in their market as far as the American League goes, but unless the American League had the Saturday Afternoon game of the week, there was no other American League exposure here until playoff time.  Watching the pitcher bat can be sometimes painful, what's worse was seeing the batter hitting 8th get walked, who was batting around .223 with no homeruns so they could get to the pitcher's spot was even more painful.  However, not only does the pitcher pitch, he fields a position as well.  How many of you grew up wanting to bat first at your neighbor's or family's house and get told, you know after you bat, you have to go out there and field the ball?  It sounds like a reward to bat doesn't it because you put time in catching flyballs and fielding grounders to justify you get your time to hit.  National League rules make it where the pitcher gets "rewarded" for fielding their position, even though American League fans probably don't see that as a reward.  The DH allows a player to not have to go to the field, all he has to do is swing a bat, thus exempt from playing the field, against the ideals I grew up with.  There are some very good hitting pitchers though and that spans into both leagues.  , , swing a decent bat in the National League, and can swing the bat too with the and what about .

Another pro National League ideal about letting the pitcher bat is he can help his own cause.  The days of walking the number eight hitter have dwindled quite a bit.  I'm unsure if Rey Ordonez having an absurd amount of intentional walks when he was with the batting eight had anything to do with this, but it seems like the pitcher's spot leads off a lot of innings in today's game.  It is up to the pitcher to usually sacrifice a runner over to second or third when there are less than two outs in the inning.  He gets the job done, the leadoff hitter gets an RBI chance, if not, he strikes out and the runners are still there.  Wins and losses are a team stat, but also a pitcher's as well.  Tight ballgame, pitcher get the job done, if you get the loss though by a run and you didn't help your cause, shoulder the blame.

The DH rule does have it's positives.  First thing that comes to mind before anything is injuries to pitchers.  Chien Ming Wang has not recovered from running the bases at the last year.  He hurt his right foot running the bases because he was not used to it.  The Yankees have stated his pitching woes this season stem from that incident last season.  Also as mentioned earlier Carlos Zambrano is a very good hitting pitcher, and he will come off the DL this Friday in San Diego.  He led off the fifth inning vs the with a bunt single and pulled his hamstring.  Had the DH been in place, neither would have gotten hurt.

Also not having to hit, the pitcher has one thing to focus on, getting the other team's batters out.  The pitcher does not have to worry about any batting practice, running the bases, and what the other pitcher may throw him in his at bat.  He does not have to worry about coming out of the game in the sixth or seventh inning in a tight game because the number nine spot is due up that inning.  Any extra time studying the other teams hitters on film, in who cannot catch up to a fastball, who will go for the slider in the dirt can be invaluable to a good performance.

There are more arguments to this debate, I just touched on two for each side.  We know the American League will always have the DH, because the Player's Union does not want to see it go out the door.  I cannot see the National League accepting the DH because something needs to distinguish both leagues, as now they both have the same umpires, so really besides that rule both leagues are pretty much the same.

One final argument it seems comes up quite a bit and did again this past Saturday.  threw two pitches at and was ejected after pitch two hit him.  On TV that night, retired players were saying oh if the pitchers hit in the American League, they would not do that, since they would have to bat.  That theory should be dismissed for one reason.  When have you seen a pitcher throw at another pitcher?  You don't the reason, that's pretty much a guarenteed out.  The strategy that goes into a National League game with the pitcher batting, or seeing a very good batter hit for the pitcher all game, which rule do you prefer? 


I wish that the DH would be allowed in both leagues...for the most part the pitcher is an easy out. This was an excellent piece of writing...very thought provoking,concise, and well thought out!




Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: May 19, 2009 10:24 pm
 

Interleague Play Brings Us Back to DH Discussion

i agree with that assesment. One thing to consider is that there is virtually no chance of the american league losing the dh. That would eliminate jobs from major league rosters and do you think mlb union would go along with that? Also that would have to be something done with collective bargaining agreement. It seems to work ok the way it is for now so i dont think its necessary right now either



Since: Apr 13, 2009
Posted on: May 19, 2009 7:24 pm
 

It's the History of the Game

I'd have to think that, although there are a good number of people clamoring for consistency between leagues, that there will be huge resistance to a possible change, if it becomes fairly likely. Given it's very long history, baseball is the one sport in which tradition is probably most important. We've had no DH in the NL and a DH in the AL for so long, it'll be very hard for myself and plenty of others to adapt to such a change, especially since it's relatively unnecessary, unlike, for example, removing certain bats from the game that, when shattered, may cause harm to spectators or players.

I don't really understand why everyone is clamoring for change now, when this system has worked so well for such a long time. Injuries, I think, are part of the game, and even with the DL rule, injuries to pitchers batting or running the bases are few and far between. Please...these pitchers are athletes just the same as guys like Alex Rodriguez or Albert Pujols; they aren't delicate guys who can't take anything.

I just can't accept such a big change to the gameplay of baseball, considering that it's not necessary. It might be a primitive view, but you don't need to fix what isn't broken.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com