LJWorld.com weblogs Jaws Thoughts From the Recliner
The DH and Interleague Play
I must warn everyone ahead of time. This could really disintegrate into a petulant tirade. There a few subjects I am very passionate about and this is one of them. While I try to maintain somewhat of an open mind on most topics, this isn’t one of them. Even if I disagree with the opinions of those on the opposite side of most discussions, I usually try to see the validity of their arguments. I cannot for the life of me see any positives to the other side of this issue. I will never be convinced otherwise. Just to add to the craziness, I do understand there are those who disagree with me on this subject who are just as passionate and close minded about their own positions.
I loathe pitchers batting in the National League. There, I said it. I cannot see any positive aspect to pitchers grabbing a bat and futilely swinging away at the plate. Pitchers do not bat at any level after high school – not college, not in the minors – except for in the National League. It is an antiquated rule from an era long gone and it skews stats and equitable competition.
Because of this gigantic difference in rules between the American League and the senior circuit, I also hate interleague play. I find it less and less intriguing each season. Other than when the Royals play the Cardinals each year, I cannot see where there is any positive aspect to teams from the two leagues playing with inequitable rules.
From a statistical standpoint, pitchers batting are a complete waste of time. Using stats from the 2011 season, designated hitters had 8,684 at bats and batted .263, had an on base percentage of .337, slugged .427, with an OPS of .764. The pitchers’ slash line in 5,069 AB is .141/.175/.182/.357. AL pitchers slash line is even worse - .119/.137/.162/.299. DHs had 303 home runs and pitchers hit 28. DHs struck out 140 times less than pitchers in 3,795 more at bats and walked 733 more times. On the other hand, pitchers did win the sacrifice bunt battle 636 to 5. Oh, how exciting! AL hitters batting 9th only sacrificed 161 times.
I think these stats clearly support my position. I just don’t see the point. Pitchers batting are worthless and boring. People who actually like to watch this insomnia-inducing baseball always fall back on their lone arguments – it’s real baseball and it adds strategy. My retort is equally intelligent – BALONEY! Watching batters hit .141 is not real baseball and any idiot can make a double switch. Maybe a tiny bit more of game management is needed but not so much that anyone who knows even a modicum about the sport couldn’t figure it out.
This whole rant was set off because MLB may increase interleague play from 18 games to 30. I wouldn’t care near as much if the leagues played by the same rules. They use the same umpires; why not use the same rules? Most AL teams use the DH as an integral part of their hitting line-up. Most DHs hit in the middle of the line-ups. To ask teams to play without, in some cases, one of their top two or three hitters is just asinine. Blubbering defenders of the NL will come back with a point about players being complete and being able to play the field – BALONEY! Most DHs can play the field but teams have younger or better fielding options at their positions. TEAMS ARE BUILT THAT WAY. They are playing by the rules. Teams should never be asked to sit one of their best players. AL teams are forced to sit one of their best hitters so a pitcher, many of whom haven’t hit since they were in high school, can step to the plate and hit a whopping .119 and an OPS under .300. How is that fair or equitable? No matter how anyone tries to defend it, argue it, twist it, or turn it, the answer is that it is not fair. Period.
Now MLB, in all of their infinite wisdom, wants AL teams to play 9 percent of their games without their DHs. Absolute nonsense! The National League needs to get over itself and add the designated hitter. If Major League Baseball wants to continue to push this brutal agenda of 30 interleagues games, then fine. Have all the games played by the same rules. And while we are one the topic of interleague play, MLB needs to realize that teams need to be playing divisional opponents in September, not teams from the opposite league. This may be the absolute dumbest product of expanding interleague play. Oh, how the Red Sox will howl the year when the Yankees get to finish up a season with the Pirates in Yankee Stadium with the divisional championship on the line with the winner not having to participate in a play-off play-in game. Whoever thinks this is a good idea (I’m looking at you Bud Selig) is an idiot.
I know I am not alone in my frustration and confusion with Major League Baseball on the topics of the DH and interleague play. I know I am not the only person who seldom watches NL games because watching pitchers bat is like watching paint dry. I know there are those who still refuse to give up on a dinosaur type of baseball and completely disagree with me. All I can say to that is that you, and the National League, are wrong and you are only holding baseball back. No other major sports have games where teams play each other under different set of rules than they normally play. There is a reason for that – it is idiotic and nonsensical. MLB, join the 21st century and rid the world of pitchers trying to hit. Do it for the good of baseball.