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Is the realignment issue really a gambit to make the DH universal?

Jun 14, 2011, 4:30 PM EST

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I’ve read several articles in which writers are at least somewhat positive and accepting of the recent realignment idea that has been floated. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote the first meaty counterargument today, and it’s a pretty comprehensive one.

I’m not sold on every argument of course — I really don’t care if teams can’t put up “wild card champion” banners in parks and can’t make finishing out of the playoff race sound good by calling it “third place”  — but it’s an intellectual response to the idea as opposed to some emotional traditionalist claptrap you might be expected to hear whenever the idea of change is floated.

But even if I disagree with some of Goold’s criticisms, he makes a great point when it comes to how the idea of constant interleague series — as two 15-team leagues would require — would mess with team rosters due to the fact that clubs would have to switch between the DH game and the non-DH game far more often than they do now for the more sporadic interleague play.  And after detailing the issues with that, he reaches a conclusion that no one has really talked about it yet:

So let’s call this discussion, this talk of realignment, this Trojan horse what it really seems to be: an attempt to force the DH on the NL.

Whether that’s the main idea or merely a side effect, it does seem to be an eminently possible result of two fifteen team leagues. An alternative: loosening roster rules to deal with the changes, but that wouldn’t be ideal and wouldn’t necessarily placate a union that may truly want 16 extra designated hitters in order to sign off on such a plan.

In light of that, are you still cool with realignment?

  1. pbsenerchia - Jun 14, 2011 at 4:37 PM

    Nope, not cool with that. Prefer NL baseball; just more entertaining to me. I’d rather see the AL lose the DH, except that would deprive me of being able to root against a whole league.

    • Old Gator - Jun 14, 2011 at 4:41 PM

      Agreed. The DH is an atrocity meant to placate dimwits and droolers who prefer more mere scoring to any genuine interest and strategic involvement, or for whom “excitement” depends on predictability. The DH makes kitsch of baseball, not to mention keeping gimps and two-tool players hanging around the game long after their skill sets have declined past mediocrity. If the DH goes universal, I’m going back to basketball.

      • proudlycanadian - Jun 14, 2011 at 4:53 PM

        In a different thread, I surmised that every team should move to the AL so that everyone could use the DH. I do not want to see pitchers at risk when they try to hit.

      • 18thstreet - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:05 PM

        You know what’s exciting? Taking the best pitcher out of the game so that players like THIS http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/batting/_/split/87/league/nl/sort/atBats/order/true can strikeout in a key situation.

        That’s entertainment.

      • 18thstreet - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:11 PM

        Eight National Leaguers have more than 25 plate appearances as pinch hitters this year. Presumably, they’re the best ones, and one can assume (generally speaking) they’re batting late in the game in key situations.

        None has a batting average over .270; none has more than one home run. Three of the eight don’t have an RBI. Two have an OPS over .600.

        Why it’s considered more interesting or strategic to watch bad baseball players, I’ll never understand. Extra at bats for player who can’t hit? Faaaaaannnntastic!

      • patsandsox - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:51 PM

        There is nothing I hate worse than watching the easy out everytime a pitcher bats. Also I have seen several AL pitchers get injured either batting or running the bases. The yankees pitcher that has pretty much lost his career after running the bases back in 2008 or 2009 still comes to mind.

        Maybe they should just leave everything alone since so many NL fans dislike the DH

      • spudchukar - Jun 14, 2011 at 6:08 PM

        The DH is for simple minds. The same mentality that spawns the popularity of Tractor Pulls, NASCAR, and cage fighting. In the “good ol’ days”, and National League, a team is penalized for the use of a semi-baseball player. Does his stick outweigh his stone glove? Does his lumbering after fly-balls in the gap overcome by the 3-run jack? Particularly, in tight, close, late-inning games is run-prevention the choice, or the option for one more at bat. The DH, immortalizes the grandiose HR, while NL ball addresses the intricacies that makes Baseball a unique sport. The DH, is football, hype, ostentatious art, and Britney Spears. Knowing the other league employs this non-strategy is difficult enough. Forcing the gladiator leaning rule on the NL, would ruin this great game. It would substitue titilation for the sublime.

      • cur68 - Jun 14, 2011 at 7:10 PM

        Oh fantastic; I get to be on the other side of an argument from Gator and Spudchukar. What’s more they’ve pretty much insinuated (ie. flat out said so) that I’m simple minded, alluded the DH to Britany Spears, claimed that I like NASCAR, cage fighting & tractor pulls, and I’m a dimwit & a drooler.

        Well, thbbbbbtt, to both of you. Thbbbbbt I say! I hope the drool hits you. I like the DH. They can hit. Most are spare 1st basemen, right fielders, or flat out sluggers who aren’t as defensively talented as someone else. If we leave Posada out of this that is. Jorge is a situation all by himself.

        In fact I like NL rules too. I can see both sides of this thing and sometimes I watch Al games, sometimes NL and I like them equally. I say leave it alone. I like the 2 league system.

      • Old Gator - Jun 14, 2011 at 7:56 PM

        Cur, I love ya man, but of my disparaging insinuendos I recant none.

      • cur68 - Jun 14, 2011 at 8:17 PM

        Ah, in yer endo with your innuendo (this is what I’m reduced to; bad word play).

        I loved watching the Expos play ball. When the pitcher came up to hit I knew I could go to the bathroom, get a drink, make a pass at my girlfriend/wife; anything that took the same amount of time as a strike out. Then, if their was the old NL double switch I had something to watch and think about. I really miss that as a regular feature in my life. But, no doubt about it, I prefer designatedhitterball.

        You know what I think I’ll do? When I head to the States next season I do believe I’ll include me so Feesh games as well as some Cubs games. Florida is not that far from Illinois is it? Don’t matter. I’ll figure it out come the time, but I want to see for myself if that stadium you lot got there is as bad as you say it is. I read somewhere that I won’t have trouble finding a seat.

      • kellyb9 - Jun 14, 2011 at 8:31 PM

        Nothing like a pitcher who can lay down a nice bunt. DH is for giant trolls that are too old or too stupid to be able to play the field.

      • bleedgreen - Jun 14, 2011 at 10:26 PM

        I believe Roy Halladay said of coming to the NL, “I used to be a pitcher. Now I’m a baseball player.”

  2. vanquish0916 - Jun 14, 2011 at 4:38 PM

    If that were the case… then yes even moreso!

  3. yankeesfanlen - Jun 14, 2011 at 4:44 PM

    It took give or take 100 years of baseball enlightenment to come to the realization that pitchers shouldn’t hit. If it’s only 40 to get the whole league on board, so be it.
    [Written especially to goad Old Gator and others].

    • cubsrice - Jun 14, 2011 at 4:48 PM

      I’d be anti-DH if pitchers knew how to hit. Still prefer the NL, but it’s annoying when one of your batters is an automatic out. With the Cubs, that’s like two or three auto-outs at the end of the lineup :-P

      • skipperxc - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:35 PM

        I’m anti-DH at the moment because the Brewers pitchers CAN hit. We’ve got a competitive advantage and I’d like to keep it as long as possible. Opportunistic? Yeah, probably — but four years ago when we were running out Doug Davis and Ben Sheets I still would have said I preferred it this way.

      • bleedgreen - Jun 15, 2011 at 8:18 AM

        Pitchers can hit if the team wants them to hit. Halladay, Hamels and Lee, while not exactly raking, have just as good a chance as any to lay down a single. Hell, Cole had a triple a month or two ago. Roy Oswalt is a bunt artist as well. Has 100 sac bunts in his career.

      • 18thstreet - Jun 16, 2011 at 2:51 PM

        http://espn.go.com/mlb/team/stats/batting/_/name/mil/split/77/milwaukee-brewers

        As batters, Brewers pitchers have 54 strikeouts and 91 plate appearances that didn’t end in a strikeout. The Brewers have played 69 games and their pitchers have 22 hits, just 6 of them for extra bases. Four of their starts have more that 25 at bats, and none of them has a batting average over .171. Two of them are slugging under .154.

        Please don’t pretend your pitchers can hit, Skipper. They can’t.

  4. markcycy - Jun 14, 2011 at 4:47 PM

    I made the point about the DH when it pertains to veteran players like thome getting to 600 homers. 183 of his homers were hit while he was the DH.

  5. nps6724 - Jun 14, 2011 at 4:47 PM

    While I don’t know if records reflect this or not, it seems to me the AL always has the advantage over the NL as far as the DH is concerned. If an AL team wants to stash a DH on the field somewhere, they can easily do so in LF or 1B and the worst that happens is they lose a real hitter for a pitcher. But the NL teams end up using PH and backups as DHs while the AL gets to use a real DH.

    There’s very little downside for the AL when they play in NL parks while there’s a big downside for when the NL play in AL parks.

  6. kopy - Jun 14, 2011 at 4:48 PM

    I’d rather see the whole league ban the DH rule. To make things fair, AL teams would be allowed to unconditionally shred the contract of one player (Ortiz, Thome, Posada, Martinez, Dunn, etc.) since it wouldn’t be right to make the AL teams pay millions for a useless player when the whole league is under the same rules. Of course, the union would never allow this in a million years.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jun 14, 2011 at 4:57 PM

      Careful with the Posada mention:

      Player A: .260/.324/.324/.649
      Player B: .226/.321/.375/.696

      Player A is Derek Jeter, Player B is Posada.

      • chadjones27 - Jun 14, 2011 at 9:55 PM

        Cole Hamels .267/.290/.333/.624
        JA Happ .318/.375/.500/.875

        Jus’ sayin’

  7. paperlions - Jun 14, 2011 at 4:49 PM

    I think re-alignment is a gambit, but I thought it was designed to ensure the longevity of inter-league play, as it is REQUIRED with two 15-team leagues….but yeah, it also could be an attempt to homogenize the rules, whether that be to eliminate the DH or to make it universal.

  8. yettyskills - Jun 14, 2011 at 4:52 PM

    Anti DH people better get used to it.

    Unless you can convince the owners and MLBPA to stop liking money, it is a Done Deal.

    DH allows players to stay in the game longer, the union loves the DH.
    So do the owners.

    Accept it

    • markcycy - Jun 14, 2011 at 4:57 PM

      Managers love it to because there are no decisions to make in the AL

      • yettyskills - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:12 PM

        I prefer the NL, but Im not blind enough to see that Anti-DH has no voice at the table.

        You have the Union and the Owners.
        The Union is 100% for the DH, zero doubt.
        The majority of owners want the DH. They want scoring and don’t care about less strategy.
        You may have a few owners want the NL to remain DH free. But they are not in the majority.
        When you have 2 leagues with no divisions, playing 78 interleague games a year. The NL is at a disadvantage and the cries for the DH in thee NL will only grow louder.

        Thumbs down to reality, but accept it.

      • koufaxmitzvah - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:48 PM

        What am I accepting? Fat toads who can’t field?

        You might as well stick to video games. I prefer real baseball and always will.

    • b7p19 - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:14 PM

      You may be correct, but I still don’t have to like it. It’s just another position for big market teams to gain an advantage over small market teams. If the DH came to the NL next year, the Phillies, Cards, Cubs, ect would be signing vet sluggers for $12 mil a year while the Padres sign Russ Branyan. I’m jealous and bitter, I know, but still….

    • paperlions - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:15 PM

      Yeah, because AL teams bring in more money. Top revenue generating teams of 2010:

      1. Yankees
      2. Redsox
      3. Cubs
      4. Dodgers
      5. Phillies
      6. Mets
      7. Giants

      Those poor NL teams, only having 5 teams in the top 7 money making franchises.

      • theolgoaler - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:41 PM

        How are you counting “revenue” in that list? Is it just ticket revenue, or do local TV/radio rights count, as well? (The Yanks and BoSox make mucho diñero from their team-owned regional TV networks.) And if the Dodgers are #4 in “money making franchises”, how in Hades is Faultless Frank McCourt NOT gonna meet his end-of-month payroll? (Me, I prefer no DH, but I agree with yettyskills above that the anti-DH faction has no voice at the negotiating table.)

    • kellyb9 - Jun 14, 2011 at 8:33 PM

      Yeah those NL teams are really struggling. I understand being for the DH, but to say that the NL is leaking money, what universe do you live in? Phils, Mets, Cards, Cubs, etc. would have to disagree

  9. stinkfingers - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:08 PM

    Makes sense.. This actually could be a ploy to make the DH universal. After all.. We all know how hard Bud Selig is trying to ruin the game of baseball.

  10. Elwood Larf - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:15 PM

    Personally, I like having a DH in one league and not in the other–that way everyone has something they want. Typically, people who grow up rooting for NL teams don’t like the DH, people who growing up rooting for AL teams do. the DH allows managers to rotate players on and off the field and give other players (i.e. Jim Thome) or an aging formerly good defensive player like Eddie Murray off the field and make room for someone else. It also gives teams a better chance of competing, since they can sign a free agent bat who plays a position they already have filled (the White Sox signing Adam Dunn comes instantly to mind) and add an extra bat they would otherwise have no use for. And you can’t tell me guys like Prince Fielder and Ryan Howard are gaining anyone’s respect by playing the field every day. That said, leave it the way it is. I still love watching the old double-switch and finding out how NL teams will handle the DH rule in interleague games. Remember the Mets DHing Mike Piazza and starting Todd Pratt behind the plate in game one of the 2000 WS? The difference between the two leagues is one of the things I love about baseball–it makes it unique. I’d rather they ended interleague play than end the DH or have it in both leagues.

    • patsandsox - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:55 PM

      I completly agree. Leave the DH in one league and the pitchers hitting in the other.

      Isnt the NL the only league left playing pro baseball that doesnt have the DH? I think the minors all use the DH now. It make the NL unique

  11. pbsenerchia - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:29 PM

    I think there’s a fallacy at work in most of the arguments here, and it’s that guys like Ortiz or Thome would be out of MLB if there was no DH in either league. The argument that DHs are better hitters than pitchers (or even the typical NL PH) ends up leading to watching simulated games on MLB The Show or whatever (not a gamer). Get rid of the DH, and the current full-time DHs will end up spread around, the NL will have better pinch hitters, and there will be more opportunity for creative or unconventional decision-making by manager. Just playing the numbers is more boring.

    Not saying I’ll quit watching if (when?) the NL gets the DH, but I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy it just a little less.

  12. jontler - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:35 PM

    “but it’s an intellectual response to the idea as opposed to some emotional traditionalist claptrap you might be expected to hear whenever the idea of change is floated.”

    I can’t help but enjoy the irony of this statement being in the same blog post with so many of these anti-DH comments.

    Way to shake things up, Craig. The DH always gets em goin’.

  13. Innocent Bystander - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:41 PM

    Real Fans Love the DH
    By Bob Rittner

    http://baseballanalysts.com/archives/2008/04/real_fans_love.php

    Believe it. The DH ***adds*** to strategy.

    • spudchukar - Jun 14, 2011 at 6:37 PM

      The DH adds stategy to baseball the way the guillotine adds strategy to shaving.

  14. koufaxmitzvah - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    Dodger pitchers are hitting the cover off the ball…. for pitchers. Billingsley, Kershaw, De La Rosa….

    Take your Andruw Jones DiatcHes and keep ‘em.

  15. Loren - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:52 PM

    I’m fine with the way it is, something for everyone. But if both leagues have to be the same, I’ll take the DH.
    A big part of why we watch the MLB is because these guys are the best players in the world. Why give a high school level hitter 3 at-bats in a game? Why make your best available pitcher leave the game because his spot is up in the batting order rather than when he’s no longer you’re best option to pitch?
    And no, I don’t want to see this argument carried out to the next level and have 9 DHs. I think a reasonable line can be drawn at the pitcher because they are *so* much worse at the plate than any other batters.

  16. royalsfaninfargo - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:53 PM

    I say keep the rules the same. Adapting to the game as it is played in the other league should be part of a managers job description. Pitchers dont hit very well, but a lot of the DHs cant tie their shoe laces in the field so i think it evens out.

  17. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Jun 14, 2011 at 6:01 PM

    Personally, I think basketball should use a DFTS (a designated free throw shooter). With one guy coming off the bench to shoot all the free throws (I’m guessing every team would have a 98%+ free throw shooter), it would stop all the fouling especially late in the game. Why should a big guy that is bad a the line be forced to shoot his own free throws? This is basically the same argument the DHers make.

    Why stop at the pitchers? Why should a hitter like Ted Williams have to play LF? Should we have some guy that can really field with a great arm and speed play LF for him. Should another guy with great speed run the bases for him when he gets on? What makes the game great is that a player (yes, even a pitcher) has to hit, field, and run. Teams balance players out in all those areas. It makes for a more interesting mix and IMO a better game.

    • bleedgreen - Jun 15, 2011 at 8:26 AM

      Hell, lets just go the football route. We’ll have 18 active players. 9 on offense and 9 on defense. That way the Yankees could have Fielder, Howard, Votto, Utley, Bautista, Granderson, Ortiz, Uggla and Pujols be their offense. Then they don’t have to worry about any of it!

  18. ftbramwell - Jun 14, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    While I may have understood the argument that the National League has more strategy 20 years ago, I don’t know that this argument carries much weight now. On the one hand, pitchers take up too many slots on the roster: there’s 5 starting pitchers who go 5.2 innings, a long-man (for when the starting pitcher can’t get it done), a sixth inning guy, a seventh inning guy, a left-handed/right-handed specialist, a set up guy, an eighth inning guy, a closer . . . there’s a “line-up” in the bullpen just as much as there is a batting order. On the other hand, pinch hitters don’t add much in the way of extra offense: the choice is often a marginal increase in offense so that the next pitcher in the bullpen lineup can take his place. It’s not like managers are faced with the choice is between leaving a stud pitcher in and bringing in a Wade Boggs or a Tony Gywnn.

    Further, who wants to see a pitcher risk getting hurt by swinging the bat or running the bases (see Chin-Ming Wang). Much more entertaining — for me — to see a pitcher try to get professional hitters out as opposed to facing the functional equivalent of a college player every ninth batter.

  19. drunkenhooliganism - Jun 14, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    I believe that the DH has given the American League a huge advantage over the last 30-40 years. NL teams have to be more conscious of position when drafting and developing players because they have so much less positional flexibility. They often have to draft a lesser prospect in the first few rounds because there’s no clear path to the majors for some positions.

    The Phillies have a prospect in Matt Rizzotti who is almost useless to them because he’s a lefty hitting first baseman. One of their top prospects is Jonathon Singleton, a lefty hitting first basemen who they’ve been trying to force into left field. They had to trade Jim Thome away for 10 cents on the dollar because of Ryan Howard. The Reds have Yonder Alonso wasting away in Louisville because he’s not gonna take at-bats away from Votto. They were vilified for taking alonso in the first place.

    No one would call the Yankees or Red Sox stupid for drafting a first basemen because Texeira and Gonzalez are gonna be there for the next decade, because bashers can always DH. They’re still a possible destination for Pujols or Fielder.

    If the Braves were picking 15th in this year’s draft and they had a catcher as their top ranked player, they’d probably pass because they have McCann. If the Twins were in the same position, they’d probably take the catcher because they could move him or Mauer to DH.

    • drunkenhooliganism - Jun 14, 2011 at 6:09 PM

      I’m not arguing for or against the DH. I just want the same in both leagues.

    • FC - Jun 15, 2011 at 12:41 PM

      Some players successfully make fielding transitions. It also depends on how long you expect the player to develop. A pick right now might not be ready until 3 or 4 years, by that time the position will be open. And guess what? You can always trade the player to a needy team to fill in a required position.

  20. bigtrav425 - Jun 14, 2011 at 6:25 PM

    If it means DH in Both leagues i am for it alll the way!!! I wasnt for it until i read that.Id much rather keep my Pitcher healthy and get my Bench guys some ab’s!

  21. chadjones27 - Jun 14, 2011 at 10:02 PM

    If managers and owners don’t want all of their baseball players to bat (ie: AL pitchers), why don’t they change the rules and instute separate offense and defense like in football. You know, 9 hitters, 9 fielders.

  22. okwhitefalcon - Jun 14, 2011 at 10:21 PM

    What’s next, a mid season exhibition game deciding home field advantage in the World Series?

  23. gallaghedj311 - Jun 14, 2011 at 10:59 PM

    As a fan of an NL team, I would love to get DH. My superstars won have to sign or be traded to AL teams when they’re old to continue their careers for those last few years could stay on my team and do it.

    • pbsenerchia - Jun 15, 2011 at 10:35 AM

      Actually, that’s also an argument for abolishing the DH in the AL – cuts both ways. If the rules were the same in both leagues, teams would adapt. Having different rules, as it stands now, favors the AL. The question is which set of rules creates better baseball, and I think it’s the NL.

  24. leftywildcat - Jun 14, 2011 at 11:27 PM

    Pro football games start with a coin toss. Maybe all MLB games should also. Heads, both teams play a DH, tails both teams’ pitchers have to bat.

    Seriously, I don’t like the DH as I believe it takes too much strategy out of the game (sacrifice bunts, the double substitution, whether to pull a pitcher or let him finish the inning if he’s to be coming up to bat). The only pro-DH argument that does make me think twice is the one about risking injury to a pitcher at the plate on or the basepaths.

    But as I said on another thread, I would allow the DH in all games once it’s tied after 9 and starts into extra innings. Let’s get these extra long games to finish up a little quicker and not have both teams fielding their last players.

    • bleedgreen - Jun 15, 2011 at 8:31 AM

      I partly agree. But then you don’t get into great stories like Wilson Valdez getting Votto and Brandon Phillips out in the 19th inning.

      But you also don’t end up having to keep Baez in a game against the Cubs for 4 innings cuz you have no one else to pitch.

  25. tigerprez - Jun 15, 2011 at 1:03 AM

    How about we take this DH stuff to its logical extreme and have separate hitting and fielding squads on every team. That way we wouldn’t have to suffer through Carlos Gomez or Alcides Escobar flailing away at the plate four times a game just to watch them make nightly web gems. In fact, think about how much better the defensive game would be if you had 8 Ozzie Smiths running around, none of whom had to hit! No more bad hitters or bad fielders. Nothing but the best.

    If you don’t like to watch a pitcher have to hit, why do you want to watch bad shortstops and catchers hit?

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