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The DH has tainted hitting records? Really?

Feb 2, 2012, 12:11 PM EDT

Detroit Tigers v New York Yankees - Game 5 Getty Images

Terrence Moore of MLB.com would like you — and every single development in baseball since, I dunno, 1965, to get off his lawn:

No question, baseball’s home run records are tarnished by those who spent part of their careers with artificially enhanced bodies, or have been suspected of it. That said, why don’t folks talk much — if at all — about that other great evil in this regard called the designated hitter?

I’m all for bashing the designated hitter. It’s fun!  But to suggest — as Moore does here, at length and with his tongue decidedly not in his cheek — that an honest-to-goodness on-the-books-for-nearly-40-years baseball rule “tarnishes” hitting records is preposterous.

The story of baseball is all about changes in context. Baseball in 1865 was different than baseball in 1895 which was different than 1915, which was different than 1925, which was different than 1935, 1945, 1965, 1977, 1988, 2000 and on to today.  The ball has changed, So too have the parks, the bats, the rules, the mounds, the players and a host of other things. The only consistent thing about the conditions in which baseball is played and in which records were set is their inconsistency.

Yet, despite this, Moore brings up the idea of “asterisks” in the event Alex Rodriguez breaks the home run record as a DH with a straight face. Insanity.

Observation: if we let go of the notion that there was a time when baseball was in some Garden-of-Eden state, only to later become tarnished and corrupted, most of the crap that riles people up about it would simply melt away.

  1. phillyphreak - Feb 2, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    Doesn’t this kind of fly in the face of the general “players perform worse as a DH” thinking?

  2. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 2, 2012 at 12:17 PM

    What a great idea, let’s start adding asterisks whenever a player had an unfair advantage, like the DH. So for instance we’ll get the top 10 in career HRs to look like:

    1. Barry Bonds* (DH/Steroids)
    2. Hank Aaron (Amphetamines)
    3. Babe Ruth* (Segregation)
    4. Willie Mays* (Amphetamines)
    5. Ken Griffey* (DH/Steroids)
    6. Alex Rodriguez* (DH/Steroids)
    7. Sammy Sosa* (DH/Steroids)
    8. Jim Thome* (DH/Steroids)
    9. Frank Robinson* (Amphetamines)
    10. Mark McGwire* (DH/Steroids)

    Hmm, that’s not so fun anymore =\

    • rambodiaz - Feb 2, 2012 at 12:24 PM

      Oooh! Don’t forget about the expansion era diluting pitching!

      I bet that, if you tried hard enough, you could asteriskize baseball statistics enough so that the only legitimate numbers were accumulated by those on the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings.

      • natstowngreg - Feb 2, 2012 at 12:39 PM

        The Red Stockings weren’t legitimate. They got paid to play baseball. An unfair advantage.

      • aceshigh11 - Feb 2, 2012 at 12:44 PM

        Boy, the ’69 Red Stockings…now THAT was a baseball club!

        I miss those days…Reconstruction, a drunken ex-general as President, women couldn’t vote…

        …baseball nowadays just ain’t the same.

      • pmcenroe - Feb 2, 2012 at 1:19 PM

        don’t ask me how in the hell I remembered this article existed but it’s basically in this same vein and pretty funny to look at

        http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=schoenfield/041207

    • Bryz - Feb 2, 2012 at 12:37 PM

      Did you deliberately leave off an asterisk for Hank Aaron, or was that a typo?

      • aceshigh11 - Feb 2, 2012 at 12:45 PM

        He mentioned amphetamines, so it’s fair to say it was a typo.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 2, 2012 at 1:26 PM

        Did you deliberately leave off an asterisk for Hank Aaron, or was that a typo?

        When in doubt, I’m a moron

    • redbirdsin7 - Feb 2, 2012 at 6:59 PM

      griffey’s line should read “Ken Griffey Jr.* (Awesome)

  3. Jeff J. Snider - Feb 2, 2012 at 12:17 PM

    What if A-Rod gets to 734 as a third baseman? Does Moore want to dismiss the 22 that Aaron hit as a DH?

  4. cur68 - Feb 2, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    Do Murray Chass & George Vecsey know about this newfangled DH thing? I can’t believe this’d happen on their watch.

  5. SmackSaw - Feb 2, 2012 at 12:36 PM

    Stories like this make me crazy.

    When do pitchers and catchers report?

  6. kellyb9 - Feb 2, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    As much as I detest the DH, if a guy is a good enough hitter, teams will find a spot for them out on the field. This argument doesn’t hold much water IMO.

    • cur68 - Feb 2, 2012 at 12:53 PM

      IMO if a person is a good enough hitter, be they male, female, older than Franco, short, tall, fat, scrawny, missing a limb, eye, major ligament in their throwing arm, or arrestingly ugly (but still able to father children and not support them) a team will find a spot for them out on the field. I completely agree that Moore’s argument doesn’t hold much water.

    • Jonny 5 - Feb 2, 2012 at 1:28 PM

      Seriously though……

      Although the DH did not taint hitting records. Huh, huh, ha! I said Taint….

      Although the DH hasn’t tainted personal hitting records, it has tainted the ability of the NL to compete fairly with AL teams in the WS. The AL team usually has one more power bat (DH) on the bench in the NL park. And the NL team usually ends up using some inferior bench player to substitute for the pitcher in the AL park as the DH. Tainted!!!!

      • stex52 - Feb 2, 2012 at 2:33 PM

        Given the WS results lately, I assume there is a lot of tongue in cheek here. It seems to me that the net effect is often to put one really hopeless glove out in the field because you can’t live without that bat. (David Ortiz comes to mind).

      • rooney24 - Feb 2, 2012 at 2:37 PM

        Jonny5 – Then the NL better win the All Star game to get the home field. I personally don’t think either team has an advantage. An NL team should have a player on their bench that is a reasonable option to DH. Most of them have 1 or 2 guys that are largely pinch hitters/extra guys. If you can pinch hit, you should be able to DH. And, when they play in the NL park, the AL team often has to bench one of their middle of the order guys because he either can’t play the field well, or they already have another player at that position. Otherwise, they play him and get poor defense. Both teams face different challenges in the other parks. But, with season long interleague play coming soon (2013?), I think teams will start to construct their rosters to be better able to cope with the other rules.

        I think they should pick one set of rules and everyone uses it. I don’t care if it is with or without the DH. Just pick one!

  7. charlutes - Feb 2, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    hehe..get off my lawn hipsters!

  8. bravojawja - Feb 2, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    I’ve been ignoring Terrence Moore and his high horse for so long, I had no idea he had left the AJC and went to MLB.com.

  9. shaggylocks - Feb 2, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    Sometimes I like to take a step back and think: God, I love first world problems!

  10. bobulated - Feb 2, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    Terrence Moore is the African-American version of Skip Bayless; he makes random, outrageous, trollish statements, usually with a racial slant mixed in for flavor, simply to stir the pot. If we all just ignored him maybe he would go away.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 2, 2012 at 1:28 PM

      I thought Stephen A. Smith had that title already?

    • Jonny 5 - Feb 2, 2012 at 1:50 PM

      Every city has one reporter who loves poking the racial hornets nest. Ours is Marcus Hayes.

    • bravojawja - Feb 2, 2012 at 1:50 PM

      Hey, it worked for us in Atlanta!

  11. yettyskills - Feb 2, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    Just die already old man

  12. deathmonkey41 - Feb 2, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    “The Yankees also have a viable option to replace Rodriguez at third base in Eduardo Nunez.”

    Has this clown ever watched Nunez in the field?

  13. metalhead65 - Feb 2, 2012 at 3:23 PM

    right the dh is a horrible rule. it is so much more fun as a national league fan to watch pitchers bat under a .100 and to watch them botch bunts when called on.

    • jwbiii - Feb 2, 2012 at 4:34 PM

      Really. If I want to watch a bunch of players who can’t hit, and sometimes I do, I go to my local little league field. Admission is free, hot dogs are cheap, and BYOB, so that’s cheap. Unfortunately, my dog isn’t welcome, or I would go more often.

  14. dirtyharry1971 - Feb 2, 2012 at 4:47 PM

    maybe the stupidest article ive ever read, breaking the HR record as a RF, 1B, DH ,ect means absolutely nothing. He still has to put the ball on the ball and hit the HR, the position he is playing or not playing means ZILCH

  15. owenpoin - Feb 2, 2012 at 9:50 PM

    Mildly tangential, but I want to push this idea wherever it sort of makes sense: instead of having different rules for the AL and NL, let the home team decide whether or not there will be a DH before each game. More markets for sluggardly sluggers AND some delicious strategy morsels to chew on. The only drawback I see is that over a few years, people would forget that the DH is optional, and it would just be there all the time. Until that happened, life would be even better than it is now.

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