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REPLY #7 TO
"DESIGNATED HITTER"



Boldfaced statements are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.

Italicized/emphasized comments prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.

My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text and are prefaced by my initials (MB).

(R) I totally agree with you re: the DH.
(MB) Ah! I see we have a real and knowledgeable baseball fan in the house...*grin*

(R) I'm old enough to remember the game before the DH. It needed a rules change.
(MB) The age factor applies to me, as well, but one doesn't need to be 40-something to see the differences in the game with and without the DH.

(R) My main contention is that the most relevant question is whether the DH rule makes baseball stronger or weaker. Does it improve the quality of the game or decrease it?
(MB) Obviously, I believe that the game is better with the DH than without it for any number of reasons. Let's see what your thinking is on this subject...

(R) I have to answer that it makes the game stronger. How? The DH improves the game in three ways:
First, as everyone knows, it removes the weakest hitter on each team, the pitcher, and replaces him with a bonafide top-notch hitter (a Canseco, Molitor, Baines, Stanley, etc.).

(MB) How bad are pitchers as a group when they are trying to swing a bat? Rank the hitting prowess at each of the nine positions in baseball and pitchers, not unsurprisingly, come in at #9. But, the real clincher is that the gap between the #8 and #9 positions is far greater than is the gap between the #1 and #8 positions! Pitchers clearly don't belong in the batter's box.

(R) Secondly, since, without the DH, the team in question would have to find a way to get such a good bat into the lineup somewhere else, it usually means that the DH rule enables the team in question to replace this "good hit, no field" guy with a better fielder on the defensive side of the field. For example, if the Braves had the DH, they could play Ryan Klesko there, replacing their pitchers' bats with his AND removing his awful glove from left field and replacing him there with a better fielder. Therefore, with the DH, the Braves are a better team both offensively and defensively. Multiply this by 30 teams.
(MB) Since I currently live in Georgia, I'm very familiar with the daily adventures of Ryan Klesko in left field. Of course, we will likely not be witness to that this season due to the tragic cancer that will keep Andres Galarraga out for the entire year.
    But, you are exactly right. In fact, the DH rule allows baseball teams to upgrade *two* positions -- one offensive and one defensive. The end result can't help but to be a higher level of overall play.


(R) Thirdly, I think pitching is strengthened by having to face the DH. Just look at all the free agent pitchers scrambling to the NL to get away from it. Their "spin" is they "want to bat." The reality is, the DH league is way tougher to pitch against. Make the NL use the DH and erase this last escape hatch for pitchers. As recompense, build the mound back up a few inches, closer to where it was in 1968, the "year of the pitcher" and Bob Gibson's 1.12 ERA.
(MB) What a year that was! I'm not really sure that baseball fans want to return to 1968, however. The average fan prefers scoring and the DH helps produce more offense. I can't imagine the impending breaking of any pitching record that would generate anything near the level of excitement that Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa gave us in 1998 with their epic chasing, catching and surpassing of Ruth and Maris (not to mention each other).
    I don't think that the mound needs to be built back up to help out the pitchers. The best pitchers still deliver ERAs under 2.00 and strike out upwards of 300 batters just as they always have. I feel that the biggest problem with pitching today is that there aren't enough top-quality pitchers to go around due to baseball's rapid expansion. Add to this smaller ballparks, the use of multiple relievers in most games -- any of whom can have a bad day at any time -- and the ever-shrinking strike zone and the hitters are going to have a field day.


(R) It's about time the NL faced reality. Everything evolves in order to survive. You can't step in the same river twice. Baseball is a better, higher quality game with the DH.
(MB) I couldn't agree more. Tradition is fine, but I just can't imagine what is lost by implementing the DH. Tradition just for tradition's sake is no answer to anything. I really get ticked off at Bob Costas and other self-important sports writers and broadcasters who use arguments like that to put down the DH rule.

(R) BTW, I know of no fan ever who ever said to me that he attends or watches professional baseball games because of the managers. Yogi said it best when asked "What makes a good manager?" "Good players," he answered. That says it all. Being a baseball fan is all about watching good players on the field and the DH gets more of them out there.
(MB) You are absolutely correct. Nobody can show me a managerial decision in a non-DH league that "improves" the game and isn't practically automatic. Such decisions barely qualify as "strategy" and most fans would certainly rather see extra offense than another exciting sacrifice bunt out of the #9 spot in the order (or, the #8 spot in Tony LaRussa's lineup *grin*).
    Spring training 1999 has just started and I'm getting that itch that says the regular season is just around the corner. I'm looking forward to another great season (even though my favorite team is the lowly Minnesota Twins)! Speaking of the Twins, hats off to the future Hall-of-Famer Paul Molitor upon his retirement after a brilliant career -- much of which would never have happened without the DH rule in place.



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