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Standardizing Rules, Revisited

 
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dodgerblue6



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PostPosted: Sat 4/27/13 10:24 am    Post subject: Standardizing Rules, Revisited Reply with quote

Many years ago on this board, we had a discussion about the DH (when we even had a couple of AL fans posting here), and the general consensus was...the DH sucks. I guess most of us were traditionalists and enjoy baseball as it was originally intended to be played. Even though I know plenty of AL fans who support the DH rule, I remain vehemently opposed to implementing it in the National League--a topic that's begun to stir up discussion around baseball circles lately.

From the POV of an AL exec, Tigers president Dave Dombrowski addressed the issue at a local event this week, stating that he doubts anything like this will happen soon.

And there was this, from L.A. Times columnist Bill Shaikin, written after the first week of this season:

"There's No Need for a Designated Hitter in the National League — Ever"

Watching Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw hit a home run on Opening Day is a special moment that can never be enjoyed in the American League.

By Bill Shaikin

April 6, 2013, 6:42 p.m.

The memories could last a lifetime. You could tell the kids, and the grandkids, about the tingles in the Dodgers' season opener.

Sandy Koufax shyly emerged from the dugout to throw out the first pitch, serenaded and beloved. Clayton Kershaw dominated on the mound, as unhittable today as Koufax was in his day.

Yet, Dodger Stadium did not erupt into bedlam until the eighth inning, when Kershaw ended a scoreless tie by launching a home run that instantly became part of Dodgers lore.

"Pretty stirring," Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti said.

Here come the killjoys, lobbying to eliminate the possibility of any such magic ever again. The start of the season, the first with interleague play every day, brought forth a new wave of calls for the National League to surrender its tradition and adopt the designated hitter.

Should the NL confiscate the bats of its pitchers so both leagues can play by the same rules? We'll take up that issue in a moment, but first: among those who could change the rules, there is no momentum to do so.

Joe Torre, the executive vice president who handles on-field matters for Commissioner Bud Selig, said the issue has not come up in the Commissioner's office. Angels Manager Mike Scioscia, who serves on the Major League Baseball committee that would discuss the issue, said it has not come before the committee.

Colletti said the general managers have not debated the issue. Neither has the players' union, according to Executive Director Michael Weiner.

The current collective bargaining agreement, in force through the 2016 season, calls for up to 20 interleague games per year. The agreement specifies that the designated hitter "shall be used" for interleague games in American League ballparks and "shall not be used" for interleague games in NL parks.

In the bargaining talks, Weiner said, the players were much more interested in minimizing the number of interleague games than they were in standardizing the rules. At one point, the owners had proposed about 30 interleague games.

The greater the number of games between the leagues, the greater the potential effect on teams assembled under the rules of their own league.

The Angels, for instance, put together a fly-ball pitching staff, under the premise that Mike Trout and Peter Bourjos could run down just about any fly ball. Then they opened the season in Cincinnati, where Scioscia benched Bourjos so the Angels could keep Mark Trumbo's bat in the lineup.

If owners and players were to agree on one set of rules, the designated hitter would come to the NL, just as it has to the minor leagues and to virtually every other professional league in the world.

"For the baseball purists who say, 'Just get rid of the DH,' I don't see that happening," Scioscia said.

This is about contracts, but not the short-term ones signed by the likes of David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox or Lance Berkman of the Texas Rangers. The designated hitter, originally intended to prolong the career of an aging slugger, has evolved into a position that gives managers flexibility with players needing to ease back from an injury or take a "half-day off" by batting but not fielding. Of the 14 AL clubs last year, only five had a DH with as many as 500 plate appearances.

No, the contract issue here is a long-term one. The Angels might not sign Albert Pujols for 10 years, and the Detroit Tigers might not sign Prince Fielder for nine, without the DH option.

"It's more likely the American League team would sign a player like that knowing the DH is available to him at the end of his career," Weiner said. "You would think a National League team would have to think twice about that."

At first glance, that is a significant competitive advantage for the AL. In reality, not so much, not as bans on steroids and amphetamines make teams increasingly wary of locking up players into their late 30s and 40s. Scioscia thought the DH minimized strategy, until he became the Angels' manager. He discovered that the NL had become predictable — bunt with the pitcher up, or do not bunt because the pitcher is due up, rather than bunt when the strategy appears most logical.

"There is more of a chance to play little ball in the American League than there is in the National League," Scioscia said. "You can do it through your whole lineup.

"It's ironic. Everybody thinks this is the slow-pitch league."

As the DH becomes less of a one-dimensional side show, and as strategies become common among the leagues, the urgency to standardize the rules tends to dissipate.

"Right now, I think everybody is fine with the status quo," Weiner said. "One league does it one way, the other league does it the other way, and you fight about it in bars and restaurants."

And Kershaw hits, the loudest and most joyous of sounds in the soundtrack of Opening Day.

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

twitter.com/BillShaikin

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My comments in response to the above:

-I have great respect for Mike Scioscia, but his remarks about the "predictability" of the NL seem irrelevant. He may be right that playing small ball throughout the lineup is more suited for the AL, but how many teams besides his actually do that? How predictable is it that a pitcher will homer, or even bang out a run-scoring hit--something that isn't considered predictable, but which we've seen a lot of in the first few weeks of the season? As for bunting being expected in certain situations, whether predictable or not, you still have to actually do it in order for it to be effective--something certain pitchers seem to have trouble with!

-I was encouraged to hear that the players association seems to be okay with the two leagues having different sets of rules. In many baseball columns I've read lately, the call has been almost urgent for both leagues to play by the same rules.

Fans are never going to stop talking about it. I've heard all the arguments for the DH--that it makes the game more exciting, that it allows older/slower/injury-prone players to not have to play the field, that it eliminates so-called "automatic outs." In fact, although I'm definitely opposed to the DH, probably the only argument for it making the game stronger in any way is the fact that an AL pitcher has to be tougher in order to face nine "regular" hitters.

The original discussion from this forum is linked here.
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Last edited by dodgerblue6 on Tue 3/10/15 10:55 pm; edited 1 time in total
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forloveofthegame



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PostPosted: Tue 4/30/13 12:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am dead set against the DH in general and especially against bringing it to the NL, just as you are. I did not read the original thread until now because I was not on this board back then. In my opinion they need to stop even putting the idea out there.
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dodgerblue6



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PostPosted: Tue 5/28/13 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good read from MLB.com, from a traditionalist's POV.
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PostPosted: Fri 5/31/13 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How about Cubs pitcher Travis Wood helping out his cause yesterday - with a grand slam!
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PostPosted: Fri 1/31/14 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Loved reading this article about good hitting pitchers!

I know it focuses a lot on Dodger pitchers hitting, but it's fun to see how other teams and pitchers compare, too.

Quote:
In Los Angeles, (Dan) Haren will join a staff that had the game's premier hitting pitcher in 2013 in his former Angels teammate Zack Greinke. The Dodgers led the National League in batting average (.176) and on-base percentage (.233) by a pitching staff, finishing behind only the Travis Wood-powered Cubs in slugging, .229 to .227.

...Clayton Kershaw set the tone on Opening Day last season when he shut out the Giants, with his solo blast to dead center in the eighth inning at Dodger Stadium breaking a scoreless deadlock.

Kershaw, who went on to claim his second NL Cy Young Award in three years, has hit .204 over those three seasons, ranking third among pitchers behind (Zack) Greinke (.237) and the Reds' Mike Leake (.233). Kershaw led all pitchers with his 10 RBIs in 2013, batting .182 and slugging .260.

Equally effective with the bat was rookie Korean pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu. The big lefty hurler, swinging from the right side, batted .207, his .293 slugging mark built on three doubles and a triple.

...Greinke was far and away the premier hitting pitcher. Among all pitchers with more than 10 at-bats, Greinke was tops in average (.328) and OBP (.400), and his .379 slugging mark was eclipsed only by Wood's .381 for the Cubs.

...Greinke's batting average in 2013 was the highest by a Dodgers pitcher since Silver Slugger Award winner Orel Hershiser batted .356 in 1993. Fernando Valenzuela, Hershiser's teammate, was among the premier hitting pitchers, with 10 homers and 84 RBIs, batting .200, in his career.

...Following the Dodgers in the NL in 2013 were the Padres (.154), Reds (.150), Braves (.148), Cubs (.146) and Brewers. Giants pitchers had the lowest collective batting average at .096, but that figures to rise with the arrival of athletic Tim Hudson, a career .170 hitter (three homers, 40 RBIs).



Makes me anxious to see our pitchers at the plate again! It seems like forever ago, but it was just a few months ago we were watching "Babe Ryu-th" coming through with the bat as well as off the mound.

Real baseball rocks!
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PostPosted: Fri 1/31/14 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good stuff. Thanks! I liked reading that list of pitchers who have hit the most homers over history. You see a few Hall of Famers on that list, although I did see a few names I had never known before, too.
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PostPosted: Tue 3/10/15 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A little more than a year after this thread was last posted in, the topic rears its ugly head again--the DH is coming to the National League. Many listed here are the same reasons given in the past, only the time frame has narrowed since it was last a big subject of discussion.

Is the ruination of pure baseball at hand? Everyone who's anyone in the game seems to think so.

Even if it has always seemed inevitable and just a matter of time, it would be a shame to remove the last pure form of the game of baseball with no other options, if only to make the two leagues more uniform...because there are still millions of fans who still do appreciate the nuances of the more strategic NL style of play. And in this case the real culprit will be the "business side" of the game.

Many fans seem resigned to this fact, but rarely have I felt so strongly about an issue in baseball that I would consider writing a letter to the Commissioner. I've disliked other structural changes, for sure, but never would I revolt against them the way I would with this one. Would I still be a fan? Of course. I just wouldn't watch a game in the same way as before.
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forloveofthegame



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PostPosted: Wed 3/11/15 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is interesting because just last week in our first game we attended, we had a conversation about this same subject with the people next to us who were Mariners fans. They had never known baseball any other way - they grew up with the DH and American League rules, as Mariners fans. It was strange to think that way. I would hate to see this happen but if anything maybe we should just see how long we can stall it from taking place. Confused
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PostPosted: Sun 3/15/15 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank God for Pat Gillick! The Phillies' president is being vocal in taking a stand for maintaining the intellectual strategy of baseball in the NL.

From MLB.com:

Quote:
"I've been in both leagues," Gillick said. "Basically, I like the National League style of play. Some people might say, 'Well, that's an old guy's way to look at it.' But I think it's a little more intellectual. I think one thing right now that's pretty prominent is pace of game. The American League games are longer than the National League games.

"So I would not be one that would be a proponent of the DH in the National League."

Told that the DH in the NL could increase scoring, Gillick said, "To be frank, I'd rather see them lower the mound and take some of the advantage away from the pitchers and try to improve scoring that way. I just like the intellectual game."

(MLBPA president Tony) Clark steered clear of saying whether or not the DH in the NL makes sense. "There could be an argument for it. There could be an argument against it," he said. "We're not going to take a position one way or the other. I will tell you, though, that each time we've had a bargaining session, the DH has been a part of the conversation. What do you want to do? Do you want to eliminate it? Do you want to add it? So it's been part of the conversation. But as I stand here today I haven't even begun to ask guys, 'Hey, what are you thinking about this?'"

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PostPosted: Tue 3/17/15 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Intellectual game - I like that. But, I think it is very unlikely that the Players Association is even going to remotely consider the elimination of the DH! Tony is just keeping a low profile on it from what I can tell. As far as lowering the mound, well Linda, I remember you posting about that awhile ago, too. If it were a choice between those, I would prefer the lowering of the mound. But why do they feel they need to tinker with it anyway? I guess the casual fans cannot really appreciate what a great pitched game is all about.
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PostPosted: Sun 4/19/15 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why do they keep starting this stuff?

Why?

Why?

Why?
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PostPosted: Mon 4/20/15 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nothing new here. Why don't they get that this is not the NFL, NBA or NHL. Those were the excuses used to put interleague play in. Baseball was always supposed to be set apart in a lot ways.
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PostPosted: Mon 4/27/15 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The latest justification they are using is that Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer has advocated for its adoption in the National League. So why didn't he just stay in the AL?
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PostPosted: Tue 4/28/15 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not sure if you read what MadBum has had to say about this? That Scherzer did not mind hitting when he signed his big contract. Lol Comments are linked here and here is part of what he said:

Quote:
“He knew the rules...Whatever much he signed for – what did he get, again? – he didn’t have a problem signing his name (to a seven-year, $210 million contract with Washington). He didn’t have a problem with hitting then. I’m sure he had his pick of anywhere he wanted to go.”


This is true, I am sure he could have found an American League team to sign with!
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PostPosted: Tue 4/28/15 8:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

LOL, well, the debate is really on now.

Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright doesn't want the NL to adopt the DH, even after suffering a season-ending injury at the plate himself over the weekend. He even took it a step further:

Quote:
"I just think baseball is a National League game. I wish both leagues would convert to National League baseball. And I understand why people would say that, but you can't point to another instance, almost, where the pitcher has hurt [his] Achilles doing that kind of thing. Running the bases?Maybe once or twice a year. Maybe.

"Baseball, the strategy and the game itself in the National League is just a better game, in my opinion. I hope that people don't look at this -- which I know they already are --- and think that we should switch to a DH now. Baseball is a beautiful game. I just hope it doesn't change too much."

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PostPosted: Wed 4/29/15 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glad to hear that, good for him.
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PostPosted: Sat 5/2/15 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've really been pleased to hear the backlash to this on the part of key National League players/officials, defending the purity of the game, over the last few days.
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PostPosted: Fri 5/22/15 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You will be glad to know the Padres pitchers have said no thanks to the DH, too. I love it that they are speaking out and they recognize it is "real baseball" - tired of hearing everyone talking about how everyone wants to go in the direction of universal DH.

Article from the Union Tribune
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PostPosted: Fri 1/22/16 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Keep the National League pure!

Well, here we are eight months after the last post here, and guess what?

This issue is coming up again!
And they're talking seriously. Exclamation
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PostPosted: Fri 1/22/16 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes and I'm ill thinking this might actually go through now. Boooo to the DH!
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PostPosted: Tue 1/26/16 8:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The latest I heard is that Commissioner Rob Manfred has issued a statement that it will not be considered for the "foreseeable future."
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PostPosted: Tue 1/26/16 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank goodness for that. We National League fans must stand united on this! Fans of baseball the way it was meant to be played! A lot of times I'll hear someone say the game is always evolving but not the most basic rules of the game! What is next, a designated fielder for every offensive position - anyway I'm glad to know this is off the table for awhile.
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PostPosted: Wed 1/27/16 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That news of it being off the table was like music to my ears!


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PostPosted: Tue 6/19/18 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had to go looking for this one because I got so disgusted reading this article in USA Today (linked here) - leave it alone already!
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PostPosted: Tue 6/19/18 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's an abomination, but as long as AL pitchers complain about baserunning, there will be renewed focus on sullying the National League.
Mad
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PostPosted: Wed 2/13/19 10:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, here we are in another year with yet another discussion of the DH in the NL. I know the discussion never ends, it only takes a break, and everyone seems resigned to the fact that the DH will someday invade the Senior Circuit. That doesn't mean we can't oppose it kicking and screaming, though!
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