No really, the DH should be universal

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

23 thoughts on “No really, the DH should be universal

  1. This idea that the DH is an affront to the "purity" of the game is a joke. Yes, it's not how things were done in the roaring twenties. However, those "good old days" also allowed such things as spitballs, segregation, and the reserve clause. Where was the outrage when those were discarded?

    Baseball today is more than ever a business, with most issues boiling down to economic ones. In the DH, there is also an economic issue at heart – more jobs for hitters. Don't you think that if the NL had the DH players like Damon, Guerrero, and Matsui would have been signed before spring training? Don't you think that the potential for big paydays for hitters like Konerko and Ortiz would be increased with double the number of teams having a DH in play?

    The marked increase in interleague play starting next season will increase the imbalance of teams not built for DHs having to use them. I think the MLBPA should push to implement this at the earliest convenience. Hell, if purist managers really want to they can still pencil in the pitcher to bat…

  2. jay_robertson

    One point – and one point only; what about the old argument of needing the pitcher to hit, in order to "keep them honest." The argument that a pitcher is less likely to bean the other team's star if its his own skin being the target of retaliation. I recall reading about pitchers that made the switch from AL to NL, and how they'd have to "clean up" their game. Its probably just my imagination – but I thought there was a little fire to go with the smoke.

    No?

    • BrienJackson

      Seems to me that you could probably do that just as effectively (maybe even more effectively) by imposing discipline from the league office in a way that wouldn't involve watering down the quality of the game.

      • jay_robertson

        Your tongue must have been sticking out of your cheek on that one – excellent concept, but expecting any kind of rational policy and enforcement from the league? Really? :D

    • R Johnston

      If I were a pitcher I might be willing to take the risk of the opposing pitcher retaliating against me, but I'd never take the risk of an opposing pitcher retaliating against a teammate of mine because I never came to the plate.

      I can't say if any major league pitchers think the way I'd think, but there's really no reason to suppose they don't. Team camaraderie is a highly ingrained aspect of organized sports, and part of that is a willingness to put yourself on the line and a reluctance to put your teammates on the line by your own actions.

  3. lazlosother

    Personally I don't like the DH, probably because I'm old, crabby and out of touch. I agree that it is aesthetic. I like to see how the game unfolds and decisions are made with the pitcher's bat in the order. Seeing your team taken out of a rally because pitchers can't hit is annoying, seeing the other team go through the same thing isn't – it evens out. As far as injuries go, position players get hurt running the bases as well – they are not a good argument for the DH. The argument for a DH is just as much an aesthetic one as the argument against.

    On the other hand, the DH isn't going away, and it would be sad not to be able to appreciate an Edgar Martinez, Frank Thomas, or Ortiz level hitting talent. At this point with inter-league play (another low hanging fruit for the crabby, older, change is bad fan) it would seem to serve the game better for both leagues to have it.

    • ProfRobert

      I agree. What's wrong with an aesthetic argument anyway? One of the reasons I love baseball is beautiful aesthetics of the game, starting with the fact that there's no clock. I think there's a lot more strategy involved when the pitcher hits. To take Brien's example, you can either walk the eighth place hitter, meaning the lineup turns over next inning (I'm assuming there are two outs), or you go after him and try to get a quick out next inning — or force the manager to pull the pitcher and burn a pinch hitter.

      I realize that the universal dh is inevitable, and I would rather see aging sluggers hit four times a game than maybe once (remember when teams had a speciality pinch hitter — Rusty Staub, Vic Davallio, Manny Mota?). But it comes with a price of there being less strategy and less aesthetics.

      • BrienJackson

        There's nothing wrong with the aesthetic argument. That's sort of my point. It's the people who are chronically trying to come up with some non-aesthetic reason why the DH is bad that would appear to think it's an insufficient argument.

  4. Eli

    I like the difference between the two leagues.

  5. Aaron

    Why is it of to think that those that take the field should not also bat. In baseball there is an offense and a defense. Also in baseball those are the same players… with one kinda random exception. Derek jeter is a bad fielder, but a good hitter, why can't we have a designated fielder for him? It's the same logic. I understand that the DH is here to stay, and I do think the NL should adopt it, but not from a baseball as a sport perspective. I do think it takes away from the game, and in a ideal world from my preference, both leagues will drop it, but that's not gonna happen.

    • BrienJackson

      "Why is it of to think that those that take the field should not also bat."

      You don't see why it makes little sense to lump a left fielder and a pitcher together as merely "two guys playing in the field?"

      • Aaron

        No I dont. It was how the game was played for a long time. In fact for the entire history of the older league people don't see a difference. You state things like they should be obvious, but I really don't see it. Yes they play a more demanding position, yes they don't play every day, but they still field the ball, they take the field with the rest of the defense. Ceasar isturez is worse at the plate then Carlos zambrano, should he get a DH too?

  6. Chris G.

    You lose points by using "their" instead of "there" in the final paragraph, and using words like "stupid" and "overweight 60 year old manager". It undermines a perfectly reasonable and valid argument.

    I do disagree, though. I enjoy the National League not so much for the pitcher batting, but the underlying strategy that it involves. A manager's decisions on when to bunt, when to take the pitcher out, using double switches, etc makes for very intriguing baseball. For instance, if Pettite has gone 6 strong innings, but the Yankees are down two runs in an interleague game and A-Rod is sitting on the bench, should they pull him? I like the DH as well, but the contrasting leagues allows for more variety, and in some cases, more strategy.

  7. forged

    The fact that comes up when I think about the DH is that baseball missed the boat with interleague play. You want the novelty of the fans seeing players from the other league come into town to play. Especially teams with large national fan base like the Yankees and Red Sox.

    So play by the visiting team's rules for the game. Give the fans of a NL team a chance to see live their team play with a DH for a change of pace during the regular season. And vice versa, give the fans of an AL team the chance their team play NL ball at home … live.

    As far as DH goes, there is more potential for strategy when pitchers have to bat, and it does slow down some of the shenanigans of bean ball wars. On the other hand, there is something to be said about not having pitchers who mostly can't hit effectively at the Major League level batting.

    The DH rule for both leagues seems unlikely that is something that will change any time soon.

  8. Edmund_Dantes

    I'd rather watch paint dry….on Rosie O'Donnell,than watch a pitcher try to hit. Maybe decades ago it was a different story and players were good at both,but pitchers now are hardly making an effort. It's not like the team wants them taking batting practice every day.These guys are getting paid millions to do one thing: PITCH.No one wants a 15 mil or higher per year pitcher getting hurt making an easy out. Just put the damn dh in both leagues and stop the nonsense already.

  9. tommydee

    I call the pitcher batting the "mercy out". I can't 9 real batters out, so you give me a freebie.

  10. billy

    9 players take the field and 9 players hit. That makes sense. No need for any other players. Except, we don't like when pitchers hit. So, instead of patching the rules to make an exception for what we want, why not fix the rules? 9 players take the field. 1 is your pitcher and the other 8 hit and play defense for the pitcher. I know that has much ramifications than adding a DH, but it makes for a cleaner set of rules.

    This idea is kind of silly, but really it is no more silly than having 2 players do the job that was intended for only 1 player. We are just used to the DH by now.

  11. jayez

    WOW!!! thanks for posting!!!!!!!!! hate your opinions!!!!!

    • BrienJackson

      There is truly no counterargument for sporadic overuse of exclamation marks. Well played.

  12. ccsuwxman

    Back in the day, football was played by 11 players on a team. Those same 11 men played both offense and defense. As the game evolved, so did the composition of the team, to the point that we now have 11 offensive players and 11 different defensive players. The DH is only the first baseball example of specialty players.

    I don't agree that the DH removes the manager from the game. There are plenty of AL games that are decided by poor managerial moves (defensive substitiutions, leaving the pitcher in too long, etc.). MLB needs to make a decision….DH or no DH. If NL purists love the DH so much, why don't the NL teams let their pitchers bat during interleague games in AL parks?

  13. williamjtasker

    Strategy schmategy. There is no entertainment or aesthetic value in watching NL pitchers bat for a combined .359 OPS with a 38 percent strikeout rate. There is no entertainment value when everybody in the world knows that a pitcher is going to bunt with a man on base with less than two outs. The NL has more of a disadvantage when playing in AL parks because rosters aren't filled with the DH in mind. Thus you get guys like Miguel Cairo as your DH. If the NL wants to keep their "Purity of the game" shtick, fine. But interleague play, whether it is the World Series or really scheduled games should employ the DH all the time.

    • R Johnston

      It's worse than that. Contrary to popular belief, having the pitcher bat limits strategy rather than creating the opportunity for it. When your starter is coming up to bat in the seventh inning of a tie game, you pinch-hit without thinking about it, or at least you should essentially all the time. You lose the decision over whether or not to try to get an extra inning or two out of your starter.

      Having the pitcher bat creates opportunity for managers to make fools of themselves by making obviously bad decisions, but that's different than adding strategy. The fact is that the "strategic" decisions involving pitchers batting are almost all decisions that should be absolutely mechanical, without any real choice involved and that limit strategy as to how you use your pitchers as pitchers.

      The notion that pitchers batting creates strategy is one of the most ridiculous notions in baseball conventional wisdom, right up there with the notions of clutch hitting, Jack Morris pitching to the score, and the prevailing usage patterns of closers.

  14. jay_robertson

    Hey – last night Ivan Nova put all your DH arguments to rest. Watching him at the plate (and just btw – didn't he look like he was 7 foot tall or something?) doing his best young, gawky colt impression as he was flailing with his bat – all of a sudden, he got that solid hit in his first at bat. The look of pure joy on his face made it totally worth while – at least for me.

    Plus – don't forget – he got a hit! Which is one more hit than Martin, Swisher, or Chavez (the man who PH for him) collected, and equal to the number hit by the Captain, Alex, and everyone else on the team not named Cano.

    I like the DH – I have no problem with it – but if pitchers never went to bat, we wouldn't have moments of JOY like we saw last night. (not to mention the moments of shame, all the times CC has allowed the opposing pitcher to double off him)

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