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Bud's Committee is not going to ban the DH

Dec 16, 2009, 8:00 AM EDT

I went on yesterday about how Commissioner Selig’s little committee was probably set up for cynical purposes. Today the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rogers goes in a different direction, hatching the conspiracy theory that the committee was set up to ban the Designated Hitter:

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 . . . 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.

I’m no fan of the DH, so if there was even a shred of a scintilla of a hope that La Russa and the gang were going to recommend its abolition, I’d be playing it up like crazy. But there’s nothing here to suggest that the committee is even going to look at the DH rule, let alone opine on it.

La Russa doesn’t like it. Great. But that “if they could” in the last sentence of the blockquote is pretty important. Messing with rules is one thing. Abolishing the DH, however, messes with rosters. As in, the position on the AL roster that has historically had the highest average salary in baseball and is home to a lot of players who would otherwise be out of the league due to their inability to play defense. The Player’s Union would no sooner agree to getting rid of the DH than the Teamster’s Union would agree to give up seniority pay.

The DH made its debut three months before I was born. I’ve resigned myself to the DH. I’ve even prepared myself for the expansion of the DH to the NL one day, because I think that has pretty even odds of happening in my lifetime. Getting rid of it? No way. No how. The world simply isn’t that just.

  1. YankeesfanLen - Dec 16, 2009 at 8:11 AM

    Craig, you’re being inconsistent here- you WANT 5 hour Universe-Nation games?

  2. Craig Calcaterra - Dec 16, 2009 at 8:12 AM

    I loathe them. I’m just realistic in believing that they’re not going to go away.

  3. RW - Dec 16, 2009 at 8:19 AM

    The DH is a gimmick… I don’t like and never will. Call me a purist… and a Phillies fan! Go Phils!

  4. John_Michael - Dec 16, 2009 at 8:40 AM

    I dislike the DH as it reduces managerial strategy. However, since it does currently exist, I do like how it forces decisions in interleague play and the World Series…which is of course a conspiracy to give AL teams (think NY and BOS) a roster construction driven advantage for the sole purpose of driving up TV revenues.

  5. jonny5 - Dec 16, 2009 at 8:40 AM

    DH was the worst thing to happen to baseball. Every Man on the field should have to face opposing pitching, even the Pitcher! If the NL adopts the DH I’ll be very disappointed. I would vote today to remove it from the AL, who cares about some overpaid player with no defense not being able to make multimillion dollars anymore?? Seriously though, I see it as a dumb rule, and these guys like “Big Papi” who we see cannot play without chemical assistance anyway, can either go to the minor leagues or go home with their huge bank accounts.
    Oh Yeah, Go Phills!

  6. Josh - Dec 16, 2009 at 8:41 AM

    The DH rule and the Watergate investigation: same year, 1973. Coincidence?

  7. YankeesfanLen - Dec 16, 2009 at 8:54 AM

    Josh, we also had the oil embargo, cars that died after 2 years, leisure suits and price controls. And I sincerely hope Phillies fans memories don’t go back that far.

  8. ditmars1929 - Dec 16, 2009 at 8:56 AM

    I hate the DH and would like to see it go away, but that’s just not going to happen. Having said that, it pains me to say this – if you’re going to have the DH, you have to have it in both leagues. It’s just utterly stupid not to have consistency with the two leagues.
    While I’m at it, I also hate artificial turf and the lack of day games, particularly in the post season. There are also lots of other things I hate, but we can leave Selig for another discussion.

  9. Alan Milnes - Dec 16, 2009 at 9:17 AM

    ditmars1929 – I totally disagree, I don’t particularly like it but at least it is a point of distinction between the two Leagues. If you have to have uniformity then by all means get rid of it but I quite like the variation.

  10. Twins Fan - Dec 16, 2009 at 9:23 AM

    As a Twins fan, I would love to see the DH banned. This would place a greater importance on bench players. You would also see fewer Vicente Padilla’s (AL pitchers) throwing at batters, too. I doubt it will ever happen, but I think it would be more fair to the National League when it comes to interleague play, playoffs, etc.

  11. Grant - Dec 16, 2009 at 9:29 AM

    I like the DH because it reduces managerial strategy. Sure, AL East games can get excessive with all the taking of pitches and the slugging, but all those NL pitching changes and pinch hits are pretty infuriating, too.

    I didn’t come to the ballpark to see some utility infielder flailing away against some 12th man on the staff in the 7th inning.

  12. John_Michael - Dec 16, 2009 at 9:42 AM

    I didn’t come to the ballpark to see some utility infielder flailing away against some 12th man on the staff in the 7th inning.
    It’s not watching the utility/replacement player that I find interesting, it’s the strategy that got us there. A manager must weigh the cost of pinch hitting his top bench player in a mid inning offensive opportunity vs. saving him for later in the game with could potentially be a higher leverage situation.
    So using your example, that may not be the best demonstration of baseball ‘skillz,’ however I bet the thought process leading up to the 7th inning would be fascinating. This happens more with the DH than without –>(no evidence to support).

  13. Jeff - Dec 16, 2009 at 9:44 AM

    My father will probably disown me for it, but I am 100% in favor of keeping the DH, and expanding it to the National League.
    Pitching has become such a specialized profession, that pitchers don’t have the time to keep their chops up. Most were probably decent hitters when they were in high school, and maybe even college. I don’t want to see Mike Pelfrey or Andy Pettite flailing away at sliders on the outside corner. Pitchers are almost automatic outs every time through the lineup. How is that exciting baseball?
    If the cat was never let out of the bag, there never was a DH, ok, I can see not bringing it into use. But it makes for a more exciting game. The double switch is NOT managerial strategy. I could train a monkey to consistently do it correctly.
    It makes exactly zero sense for the American League to have it and the National League not to. Time for the NL to get on board.

  14. Steve Kusheloff - Dec 16, 2009 at 9:47 AM

    I hate the DH rule, too. It tears at the very basics of baseball – the same 9 guys in the field are the same 9 guys who hit. It’s not going away, though. And it’s the main reason the American League is superior to the National League, and will be for the forseeable future. Unless the top 15 pitchers in baseball are in the NL, the AL will prevail in the All-Star Game (gaining home field advantage in the World Series), and will generally win the World Series. This year the Phillies had no one close to equalling the Yankees’ Hideki Matsui as DH. Unfortunately the only sensible solution is for the NL to adopt the Designated Hitter.

  15. Cluck - Dec 16, 2009 at 9:47 AM

    Vicente Padilla did pitch in the NL (for the Phils) and he hit a lot of people then. There are two ways to get pitchers to stop throwing at players, one is for the umpires to take control and the other is to have that pitcher’s teammates to take control.

  16. Chipmaker - Dec 16, 2009 at 9:51 AM

    Why the heck does McDonald’s and its competitors get to sell hamburgers AND cheeseburgers? Consumers get too confused! It’s about time these fast-food corporations made up their bottom-lined minds and chose one and eliminated the other.
    Or they can go on selling two different (but very similar) products, just like MLB does.
    I’d much rather dump interleague play (which isn’t going to happen either) than eliminate the DH OR impose the DH on the NL. As it is now, I have a choice of two different (but very similar) types of major league-class baseball.
    Eliminating the DH wouldn’t eliminate the players. Those that can hit well, will get to play first base, and the quality of defense will suffer. Not really the outcome the anti-DH faction is expecting.

  17. DSFC - Dec 16, 2009 at 9:53 AM

    Hate NL ball – the very worst thing in baseball is watching a pitcher try to hit. Close behind that is seeing a manager forced to take a starter out too early to try to keep a rally going.
    I don’t watch games to see how clever the manager can be. I watch to see the players play. I have zero interest in watching AL pitchers hit.

  18. hop2171 - Dec 16, 2009 at 9:55 AM

    As a fan the DH is the only way to go, i hate it when a team has the bases juiced and i get to see the #8 hitter walked just so we can watch the pitcher bat. Just kills the whole moment for me but with that said there is no way, i repeat, no way the DH is going away no matter what Bud says, does, creates, ect. there is ZERO CHANCE. Why? Simple, the Players Union will never allow it, they would strike at the moment they tried to pass such a rule change. Anyone who says anything different just doesnt know, the DH is normally a guy who is making pretty good cash, the players union isnt letting that walk out the door folks so get used to it.

  19. Chad - Dec 16, 2009 at 10:00 AM

    The DH is a horrible rule, the best analogy i have heard was:
    “Can you imagine if the western conference played with a 3 point line and the eastern conference didn’t”?
    If you do not require a glove to do your job you are not a baseball player and should not be allowed on the roster. The rulebook plainly says “Baseball is a game played by 9 players” no where does it talk about some gimmick training wheels for old farts that are past their primes.

  20. BK - Dec 16, 2009 at 10:05 AM

    DH makes baseball that much more exciting. Look at the NL…a joke of a league, its the minor league for the AL, the DH takes some situations out of managing but puts more back in with having to deal with big power hitters. The NL should either adopt the DH or just leave things how they are. I would hate for the AL to get rid of it.

  21. John - Dec 16, 2009 at 10:28 AM

    Absolutely. In the NL, not only is the 9th “batter” (pitcher) a wasted space, it makes the 8th batter moot for the most part as well because it usually makes sense to walk him to get to the pitcher. Strategy? Please. AL managers need to figure out how to pitch to 9 competent batters vs. 7 in the NL. Get on board, NL!

  22. kardo - Dec 16, 2009 at 10:33 AM

    With all the talk of managerial decisions, there is very little involved in deciding whether a pitcher stays in. The average innings pitched by a SP in the AL is 5.8. In the NL it’s 5.8. Average pitches per GS: AL 96. NL 95. How about relief pitchers? Pitchers per Game relief: AL 19, NL 17. Outs per game relief: AL 3.3, NL 3.
    Generally the idea of when to change pitchers is the same in the AL or the NL. If a SP is doing good, he stays in. Relief pitchers only pitch 1 inning. and the double switch? As said before, you could train a monkey to do it.
    But there is nothing wrong the DH as it is. I for one can’t see how it makes the AL stronger. All that money spend on old players who can slug but not move a glove can’t be spend on buying better players for the other position.

  23. DJ - Dec 16, 2009 at 10:43 AM

    LOVE the DH. The DH adds some hitting excitement to an otherwise boring, pitcher dominated game. I say lower the mound, let the hitters use aluminum bats and let’s put some excitement into baseball!

  24. tk - Dec 16, 2009 at 10:44 AM

    I think “Crash” Davis said it best…”I believe there ought to be a Constitutional Amendment outlawing astroturf and the designated hitter…”
    How many other jobs are out there (other than CEO) where you can get paid the most amount of money while doing only half the work of your peers. If you can play baseball, then play baseball…and that means defense as well…OR…maybe the MLB can institute a designated fielder rule as well…so you can also hire a great fielder who can’t hit a beachball thrown underhand.

  25. AL - Dec 16, 2009 at 10:44 AM

    I get the feeling most of the replies here are coming from NL fans. There’s a reason why position players don’t pitch, and there’s a reason why pitchers don’t hit. The MLB batting average for pitchers is about .135. Maybe it wasn’t always that way, but by now the gimmick isn’t the DH, it’s having the pitcher bat.

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