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After a wide variety of topics have passed through QOTD territory recently, it's time to return to a tried and true classic. Well, "return" isn't quite right; believe it or not, according to a brief search, this topic has never been properly argued on Da Box. And given this site is hosted in an American League city but features an awful lot of so-called old-school thinkers where The Great Game is concerned, I really have no clue which direction we'll go with today's ...

Question of the Day: Designated Hitter: yes or no? Do you like the DH? Should it exist? (Note that these are two separate questions for many people.) And if it's not going anywhere, just what the flark should we do about the DH in interleague and World Series play, anyway?
QOTD: Designated Fun | 29 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_DeMarco - Monday, November 29 2004 @ 09:21 AM EST (#12110) #
I know I'm probably in the minority here, however I love the DH. I really think pitchers have no business trying to hit and I find no enjoyment watching them. This could be a direct result of my dislike for the sacrifice bunt?

I do like the fact that there is a difference between the American and National leagues and really don't think there needs to be any changes made regarding the DH and interleague play.
_Mick - Monday, November 29 2004 @ 09:33 AM EST (#12111) #
Actually, I don't know that you will be in the minority, DeMarco. I think a lot of the responses skew age-related. I was only seven when Ron Blomberg stepped to the plate for the Yankees and initiated the DH era into MLB, so I don't really remember it being any other way, though I followed enough NL baseball, especially the Big Red Machine of the '70's to feel ambivalent.

Bonus (Trick?) Trivia Question: Who was the first DH for a National League team?
Joe - Monday, November 29 2004 @ 09:48 AM EST (#12112) #
Given that I've never known any different, I'm moderately in favour of the DH, but I certainly wouldn't cry any crocodile tears if it went away.

What I'm really interested in, though, is the process that led to the introduction of the DH. Why was it added? And why in only one league?
Pistol - Monday, November 29 2004 @ 09:59 AM EST (#12113) #
I'm against the DH. I don't like that a bad offensive player isn't forced to hit, and I don't like that a bad defensive player isn't forced to field. The game is 2 parts, and you should have the skills to do both. Plus, I think a lack of a DH forces you to have a deeper and more flexible team.

That there are different rules in each league is one of the sillier things in sports to me.
Craig B - Monday, November 29 2004 @ 10:04 AM EST (#12114) #
In the early 70s, the AL lagged a long way behind the NL in attendance, sometimes up to 30% or more I believe. In addition, the AL had seen the offensive gains of 1969 reversed somewhat, so that scoring was considerably lower than in the NL. As a result, the DH experiment was born, as a way to boost AL offense and to give a position for aging stars. Both were thought to be a key to increasing attendance.

Almost all players, even good players, were retired by the age of 36 in those days. In many years, there were only a couple of guys aged 38 or older. It was thought that the DH could keep some of those players around.

At the time, Detroit and Boston were the only AL teams who drew well. We think of teams like the Yankees and Baltimore as good attendance teams now, but in the early 70s both struggled to go over a million a year, an average of around 12,500 a game. In '72 the Yankees finished 79-76 and were in the pennant race pretty much all year, and drew 966,000 fans.

In the AL in '72, only three teams topped a million (Det, Bos, and the White Sox) and five of twelve drew less than 10,000 a game. In the NL, nine of twelve drew over 1.1 million. So the AL, where scoring was half a run per game lower than in the NL, decided that they should put more offense in the game.
Craig B - Monday, November 29 2004 @ 10:04 AM EST (#12115) #
On the DH : I like it one league and not the other. It's all we have left to distinguish the two.
_DeMarco - Monday, November 29 2004 @ 10:04 AM EST (#12116) #
Here is a web site with some history on the DH and arguments for and against it. Warning - the answer for the Bonus QOTD can be found here.
_Mick - Monday, November 29 2004 @ 10:17 AM EST (#12117) #
great link, DeMarco, but I bet that "tallest DH" factoid is wrong now. Sure, Frank Howard was6'7", but Tony Clark is either 6'7' or 6'8" depending on which source you believe. Of course, Howard would break Clark in half -- and Tony's no toothpick.
_MatO - Monday, November 29 2004 @ 10:21 AM EST (#12118) #
To me, watching pitchers hit is like having goalies join the attack in hockey (actually that might be a way to open up the game).

Bill James made a compelling argument for the DH about 20 years ago. He argued that in fact there is less strategy in the National League. The teams in the NL had strategies that revolved around the pitcher hitting with little variance between teams (eg runner on less than 2 outs with the pitcher up = bunt or number 8 hitter up then no bunt because pitcher is next). Also, when you remove the pitcher was often mandated by the game (eg pinch hit for the pitcher if trailing late in the game). On the other hand, the manager in the AL can impose his strategy on the game (do we bunt like Gene Mauch or disdain the bunt like Cito Gaston) he is never forced to bunt. The AL manager must also decide when to remove his starting pitcher. This is a strategic decision. The AL manager is never forced to remove a pitcher by the situation in the game.
Mike Green - Monday, November 29 2004 @ 10:32 AM EST (#12119) #
I don't like watching most pitchers hit, so I'm pro-DH generally.

Incidentally, the absence of a DH in the NL would create additional incentive for a tandem starter regime there. It would allow you to get an additional at-bat from a hitter instead of a pitcher in many games. Let's say the score is 2-2 after 4 and 1/2 innings, and the home starter has thrown 75 pitches, and is scheduled to lead off the bottom of the 5th. Under the current regime, the starter will almost inevitably hit. Under a tandem regime, a pinch-hitter would be inevitable because the home team has another pitcher ready who is scheduled to throw 2-4 innings.
_Marc - Monday, November 29 2004 @ 11:40 AM EST (#12120) #
COMN for an ESPN article on possible Japanese players coming to Major League Baseball.

I am in favour of the DH, but I would not be too upset if it went away... I just hate seeing a pitcher stride to the plate in a bases loaded situation
_Jobu - Monday, November 29 2004 @ 12:35 PM EST (#12121) #
Not to debate the worth of the DH overall, but in regards to the "what should we do with interleauge?" idea:

I'm all for leaving the "home park rules" as is. I really enjoy seeing an AL pitcher flail at the plate, if only for the reason "hey! something new too see!". A reason which can become very substantial when you follow a team for 162 games a year.
_John Northey - Monday, November 29 2004 @ 12:43 PM EST (#12122) #
Count me as a DH in the AL none in the NL person. I like it that way as it gives all fans teams to watch.

As for the interleague bit, I'd like it reversed. Have it be that when a NL team comes to SkyDome we get to see pitchers hit and when the Jays are in Washington they get to see a DH. That way fans in all cities can see both styles of play rather than being limited to whatever the league in town does. To me it would provide a reason to keep interleague play around.
_BCMike - Monday, November 29 2004 @ 12:58 PM EST (#12123) #
I say lose the DH. Although I don't exactly enjoy watching pitchers hit, watching an NL game is far more interesting than an AL game.

As for Interleague, I also believe they should switch it up so that AL cities get to see some non-DH games.
_Daryn - Monday, November 29 2004 @ 01:09 PM EST (#12124) #
I'm "anti" DH... I think that if pitchers had to hit all the time, (ie in college too) that they'd be better at it...

I think having AL pitchers hit in interleague and World Series games is foolishness... Having Mighty Mouse pitch at least served a strategic purpose...
_Daryn - Monday, November 29 2004 @ 01:11 PM EST (#12125) #
P.S. How restrictive are the rules for DH-ing?? Could you DH for your Shortstop??
_Ryan Lind - Monday, November 29 2004 @ 01:44 PM EST (#12126) #
Love the DH.

I get no enjoyment out of watching pitchers make outs, nor do I get any enjoyment out of watching sacrifice bunts, or teams pitching around the number 8 hitter to get to the pitcher. The so-called "strategies" of NL baseball all revolve around the assumption that the pitcher will make an out, which he probably will. It's dull and to me, it's infuriating.

Furthermore, I hate it when AL teams visit NL parks and their pitchers must bat. IMO, that's a huge disadvantage to the AL team because their pitcher isn't used to hitting at all.

I will admit though, the DH probably shouldn't exist. Like I said, I love it and I'm glad it's there, but pitchers really should have to bat for themselves, logically.
_Rob - Monday, November 29 2004 @ 02:18 PM EST (#12127) #
I've grown up with the DH, and I am fine with it being different in both leagues. As for the World Series...I don't know. Is it fair that the Red Sox had to lose either Millar's or Ortiz's bat, or is it the other way around: not fair for the Cardinals and the other 15 teams who have to have a worthless batter in the nine-hole the whole season?

I agree with Ryan on two points above:
I get no enjoyment out of watching pitchers make outs
pitchers really should have to bat for themselves, logically.

It is nine men, not ten men, after all.

Where's Moffatt? He should be posting "baseball is better than DH-ball" in about 25 minutes. ;)
_Dr. Zarco - Monday, November 29 2004 @ 03:22 PM EST (#12128) #
I'm a huge fan of the DH, and if it were eliminated I'd be bitter for quite some time. In order for a change in the majors to happen, I believe a change in the lower levels would need to precede it. I believe NL in MLB is the only league not to use a DH, going all the way down to high school and below.

So if pitchers never learn to hit (more than a 75mph high school pitch), and don't have to hit climbing the minor league ladder, how is it fair to throw them in there against the best pitchers in the world? Not very fun to watch. I'm reminded of when David Bush came up and his 2nd (I think) start was in interleague play and he said "I haven't faced live-game pitching since high school." That's not right.

I also don't like the gimme out, and obvious strategy-pitcher gets in a jam in the NL? Eh, just walk the 8th hitter and face the pitcher. Bites.
_King Rat - Monday, November 29 2004 @ 04:12 PM EST (#12129) #
I hate the DH, despite being a reasonably young fan of an American League team, but I agree with Dr. Zarco. Any removal of the DH has to be mirrored with changes in the minors, which I highly doubt will ever happen.
_GregH - Monday, November 29 2004 @ 05:13 PM EST (#12130) #
I have followed baseball since I was a kid in the early 60's and am in favour of the DH only because I can't stand seeing most pitchers try to hit.

There is no greater rally-killer than having most pitchers in the line-up. NL teams often walk the 8-hitter with 2 out, even with two on base, to get to the pitcher, which makes for boring baseball.

It also pains me during interleague play to see AL pitchers who manage to get on base trying to run the bases, and causes me concern - what if Halladay, with his competitive nature, tries to slide into the plate!

I once heard a proposal that would make things more fair for interleague play (and the World Series) - have a line-up of only 8 batters. Pretty unconventional, but maybe worth thinking about.
_Nolan - Monday, November 29 2004 @ 06:11 PM EST (#12131) #
I've heard numerous arguments against the DH rule and many of them hinge on the idea that it is shameful for the American and National Leagues to play by different rules. However, I think that this is one of the best results of the DH rule. I think that it adds character and nuance to the sport. I would equally disappointed if the American League dropped the DH as I would be if the National League adopted it.

While I agree that I hate watching a pitcher flail away helplessly, it [i]is[/i] very exciting when a pitcher homers or even just gets a basehit.
_Chuckles the Cl - Monday, November 29 2004 @ 06:23 PM EST (#12132) #
Usually I just lurk here, but I had to jump in on this one as this is a real interest of mine.

Basically I love it as it is, and I see lots of other people do to. If you love the DH, then the AL is for you, if you want to go old school then stick to the NL.

I thought the rule as originally written, made no mention of position, but I've seen interpretations that specifically mention "batting for the pitcher". By the way if the pitcher hits that well it appears to be no problem to just let them hit for themselves. (They might count as DH at first, but once they play the field they should be in the lineup.)

Also, I just love how it extends the careers of aging sluggers (like Dave Kingman, my favorite), but teams usually just use it to cover injuries or give players a rest.

P.S. I've done some studying on this issue and being the DH seems to lower that player's hitting stats about an average of 5%. Some players don't seem to be affected at all (like Manny Ramirez), while some are reduced by 10% or so (Jason Giambi and Frank Thomas). This might be due to old age and nagging injuries, but the effect seems pretty consistent.
_Moffatt - Monday, November 29 2004 @ 06:32 PM EST (#12133) #
Where's Moffatt? He should be posting "baseball is better than DH-ball" in about 25 minutes. ;)

It's been a busy day. ;)

I love watching pitchers hit. It's funny. Particularly when it's Bruce Hurst.
_Kieran - Monday, November 29 2004 @ 06:42 PM EST (#12134) #
I'm a fan of the DH, in that there is no "automatic" out in the lineup.

I'm not a fan of having different rules in the AL and NL. As far as I see it, MLB is a single league - and thus the rules of play should reflect.
_James W - Monday, November 29 2004 @ 08:05 PM EST (#12135) #
It also pains me during interleague play to see AL pitchers who manage to get on base trying to run the bases, and causes me concern - what if Halladay, with his competitive nature, tries to slide into the plate!

See World Series, 1993. Todd Stottlemyre trying to advance first to third on a single up the middle, and cutting his chin trying to slide headfirst.
_G.T. - Monday, November 29 2004 @ 09:09 PM EST (#12136) #
I'm not a fan of having different rules in the AL and NL

I'm not a fan of having different rules depending on which teams are playing! In the IL, when two teams with Parent Clubs in the NL play, they don't use the DH. (I always thought that was silly, personally). The best part, for me, about the Ottawa Lynx becoming Baltimore's farm team was that it meant I wouldn't have to be subjected to watching any more pitchers bat...
_Lefty - Monday, November 29 2004 @ 11:09 PM EST (#12137) #
Count me in on the pro DH side, basically for the reason of getting the chance to see some tremendous hitters careers extended. Though I think the traditional DH is becoming a hing of the past. Teams are now using the position more in terms of flexibility now rather than just plugging in the monster masher.

ps: Wheres the great Sky Dome rip-off commentary / discussion. $25 million, cripes the Da Boxes lawyers coud have raised that dough. Why to go Blue Jays.
_Justin - Tuesday, November 30 2004 @ 06:40 PM EST (#12138) #
I am definitely a fan of the DH, but I also like the fact that the two leagues have different rules regarding it. It makes things interesting during the world series.

I have a question though, do any minor league teams make the pitcher hit? Do some leagues do it and others dont? I've always wondered that.
QOTD: Designated Fun | 29 comments | Create New Account
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