Manfred: “NL Could Adopt DH By 2017”

Rob Manfred sat down with reporters today and addressed the upcoming CBA that will go into effect by 2017.  Among topics already being discussed is the NL adopting the DH rule which Manfred says is gaining momentum.

It’s possible this is simply per-negotation posturing with the league pushing hard for something they really don’t care about only so they can trade it off later for something they actually do care about.  However, it’s also possible the league really does want to go with an all-time DH.  The increased use of inter-league play, coupled with the rise in pitcher injuries, rising salaries, and prolonged careers of players due to the DH, makes this proposal fairly logical.  After all, we all knew it was only a matter of time before the DH would be fully implemented, as we know there’s no way we are getting rid of it, no matter how staunchly some fans may feel.

115 thoughts on “Manfred: “NL Could Adopt DH By 2017”

    • Yeah, I used to think that way too.

      But at this point, with interleague play happening every-goddamned-day…the whole sport needs to be one way or the other. And there’s no way in hell the player’s union would ever agree to getting rid of the DH in the AL.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You aren’t wrong. I’ve noticed that as the Cubs have developed more and more and more thunderous lumber, my disdain for the DH has waned considerably.

        It’s not hard to imagine that putting the DH in the NL in the immediate-to-near future could convey a distinct advantage for a couple years while the rest of the NL works to adjust.

        Fun Fact – Maddon used 119 different batting orders last year (not including pitchers). The most “common” one was only used 8 times. The man likes to tinker, and the DH would give him one more spot with which to play around.

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      • Maddon is an amateur. LaRussa had anywhere from 120 to 150 different lineups each year while he was with the Cardinals. He was usually around 135-140 most years.

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        • LaRussa had 120 in his first year in STL, Maddon had 119 in his first year in Chicago. We’ll see how things progress…

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        • Do those lineups include each starting pitcher? If so, Maddon could certainly have more if they don’t have the same good fortune with starter health this year. I know some of TLRs years with 145-150 lineups were in part because the Cardinal had 12 different pitchers start games.

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        • No, those were without starting pitchers. If you include those, Maddon had 150 different batting orders last year.

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      • In both of those cases, shifting their 1B to DH just creates a new hole at 1B.

        The Giants would probably do alright with the DH, considering it lets them keep Posey’s bat in the lineup pretty much everyday and helps lower his chances of catching another concussion.

        Actually, teams that are currently rebuilding like the Braves or Brewers would probably be alright, since they would presumably have enough time to include the DH into their rebuilding plans before they start being competitive again.

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        • There’s a lot of ways to arrange a Cubs lineup in which they’ve got a damn strong hitter on the bench. Don’t be surprised to see an outfield of Schwarber-Bryant-Soler, with Baez at 3B, when Heyward needs a day off. It won’t be the most defensively sound outfield, but it’ll get the job done on occasion.

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      • Padres already had a hole at first. That’s why they are trying Myers there. He’s never shown much defensive ability, so it probably be no big loss to try somebody else. Gonzalez is getting a little long in the tooth, so it’s nearing time to find a replacement 1st baseman.

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      • Adrian Gonzalez is going to remain a line drive machine for the next several years, but I think he can handle playing the field for a few more seasons. I think most teams will use it to rest veterans or get an extra right or left handed bat in the lineup until someone kind of organically morphs into the everyday DH. And the team who would dig it the most is Pittsburgh who has John Jaso now. They really could have used it while Pedro Alvarez was in the everyday lineup.

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    • Cards could extend Holliday and have him DH. Hard to say though, really. Seems like most teams have a lot of turnover in the DH from year-to-year.

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  1. Fire and Brimstone coming down from the skies!
    40 years of darkness! Earthquakes! Volcanoes!
    The dead rising from the Grave!
    Human Sacrifice! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!

    Actually I am opposed to the DH, but it’s a losing battle. Colleges don’t use it, most minor league teams don’t use it. It’s just a matter of time at this point.

    Get it over with.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. OK, I’ll forgo the DH argument (for the time being) to ask why the MLBPA would favor this? If the rosters don’t expand there are no additional slots open for MLB players. Why would the union care whether that spot is a broken down old position player or a rookie position player?

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    • They will probably by the false argument that it results in another “starter” and the salary that goes with it. Except, of course, every team operates on a budget, dollars given to one player just represent dollars not available to give to another player. Salaries won’t increase, the distribution will just change.

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      • It doesn’t inherently generate higher payroll, but it likely keeps some current union members in the game longer, at the expense of a current non-member who would have come up from the minors to fill out the roster.

        Liked by 1 person

        • The vast majority of union members are players that will NEVER be options for a DH…many more would be viable relievers or utility players. As a group, there is no reason for the union to support the idea based on salaries or career length (after all, the net change in career length will always be zero unless more jobs are created and this doesn’t create jobs).

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        • Oh I think they think that is what would happen….but it isn’t what would happen in the end.

          Can anyone name a single player that was out of baseball last year that could have stuck around as a DH?

          This is an idea that has no empirical support. There are 1 or 2 guys/decade this might apply to…and those guys can already just play in the AL.

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  3. I think they should just ditch the whole pretense of players playing both offense and defense. The best hitters wind up being shoe-horned into positions and play regardless of whether or not they can play defense…that just leads to more pitches being thrown which leads to more pitcher injuries.

    To save arms, I think we should also get the best defensive players whether they can hit or not. There would be some fantastic leather flashing every day all over the field.

    Liked by 2 people

    • If position players don’t have to hit, why stick with the idea of a 9 hitter lineup? Wouldn’t the next logical step be to allow teams to only send up their 4 best hitters over and over since no more than 3 can be on base at one time? And do we really need to see Prince Fielder rumbling around the bases after he’s walked when we could be watching some could of been a football player guy because he runs a 4.3 40 zooming around.

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      • This why Charlie O signed Herb Washington. Too bad Mike Marshall had to go and do this to him.

        I love how Vinnie called him out before the ball was halfway to first base.

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      • I dislike slippery slope arguments. One minor change for a good reason–one incompetent hitting position with very few exceptions–does not mean we need to drastically change the game. How silly does the following sound? Why not have a separate offense and defense like football? Why not send robots up there to bat if all we want to see is gross displays of hitting? The slope is ridiculous. Make the minor change, implement the DH, to fix a problem–horrible batting by pitchers and pitching interruptus–and stop right there.

        One thing I find so frustrating during an NL game, besides the almost assured with a few exceptions pitcher auto-out in its various forms (the K, the sac bunt etc) is watching a brilliant performance by a pitcher and having that pitcher pulled because it’s his turn in the batting order. Some call it pathos and strategy. I call it bullshit. Yes, I want to watch some scrub not good enough to make the line-up pinch hit for Kershaw or Jose Fernandez. That’s when I change the channel.

        There is no reason to change the game so drastically when stats show that offense for all other positions is trending together. Only pitchers are getting worse and worse.

        The other players on the field, on average, are actually competent at batting. The pitcher is not.

        In 2014, the pitchers wRC+ was -19. It has been a negative number since 1983. It has progressively gotten worse over time.

        I am shocked if a pitcher can hold a bat right side up when he comes up to the plate. I’m so proud of him if he can even make contact. What a big boy. Yes, it’s exciting when a pitcher hits a home run in the same way it is when a handicapped person hits one. You just don’t expect it, so you’re thrilled.

        Conversely, here are all your other positions:
        Year ▴ C 1B 2B SS 3B RF CF LF DH
        2013 88 112 88 85 90 106 98 110 117
        2012 95 107 88 86 100 104 101 103 114

        You get the idea.

        (Source: http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2015/4/20/8448085/pitchers-are-hitting-worse-mlb
        http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2014/3/27/5551568/position-by-position-offense-is-trending-together)

        I don’t want my pitchers to worry about hitting. They have a highly specialized position. I want them to worry about pitching and fielding their position.

        Why have a DH? I like the number 9 in baseball. Nine men bat. Baseball revolves around the number nine. http://m.mlb.com/news/article/6837626/

        Liked by 4 people

      • To piggyback off of Johanna’s post, and my apologies for the cross-sports reference, if wRC+s by position were arranged on a football field, the DH and the eight positions would all be clustered roughly between the twenty-yard line and the back of the end zone at one end of the field. Pitchers would be in the stands behind the other end of the field. But please, tell me more about how the slippery slope arguments aren’t any more ridiculous than the claims that gay marriage would lead to people marrying their dogs or their toasters.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It isn’t a “slippery slope” position, it is a conceptual position of the concept behind the game.

        It was: each team has 9 players, those guys try to score and prevent the other side from scoring, with everyone contributing to run scoring and run prevention. If that isn’t the concept anymore, and with the adoption of the DH, it was not….then there is no reason to keep 9 hitters or to require any player to both hit and field except for tradition.

        In other words, if we were to re-envision baseball today, there would be no reason to have 9 hitters or to have guys play both offense and defense. Those are legacies from what the game was and now isn’t. Why not allow the very best defenders to also get to play in the majors….because if guys didn’t have to hit, there would be a LOT of great defenders in the majors that you’ve never heard of….right now, if a guy can hit, they’ll stick him somewhere and give away runs to have him in the lineup even though if they put an elite defender that couldn’t hit in the same spot, he’d likely be just as valuable (e.g. the insistence of the Cardinals to not play Bourjos and his apparent trade value of zero, despite the fact that he’s been over a 3 win player per 600 PAs over his career).

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      • Except that’s an inaccurate portrayal of how teams trade off offense and defense relative to pitchers. Yes, for a good enough hitter, they will tolerate a great degree of defensive ineptitude, but there will come a point where the trade-off isn’t worthwhile (and the less good a hitter is, the less defensive latitude he’s given). Likewise, a team can tolerate a black hole in the lineup for an ace defender at a premium position, but how much bad hitting they’re willing to put up with depends on how good the defender really is. The trade-off exists. That’s not true with pitchers. No matter how badly a pitcher hits, a team will play him if he pitches well, and no matter how well a pitcher hits, a team will not play him if he pitches poorly. This was the case for decades prior to the implementation of the designated hitter. The usage led to the rule change. Now, if position players are used in a similar such way for about forty year, then you’d have a comparable argument for designated fielders.

        As for why we don’t just have eight hitters, you’re ignoring path dependency. Yeah, if we were starting the game from scratch, maybe we wouldn’t come up with the DH system. But after a century of playing with nine hitters, having the DH replace the pitcher in the lineup was the least intrusive way to handle taking the bats out of the hands of a position that was incompetent as a class.

        Liked by 6 people

      • If I were to redesign baseball today, there are a lot of things I would change. I’d make parks standardized. It makes no sense for one stadium to have outfield walls 10 feet high and another 20 feet high and wtf Fenway Park? I’d make outfield dimensions standard too. Of course, I’d take into account factors like altitude. In football, one team doesn’t get to decide to make the goal cross bar 50 feet high and another 25 feet high and another 10. But it’s part of baseball’s idiosyncrasies and charm.

        We’re not redesigning baseball. We’re improving a part of the game by implementing a change with something we’ve experimented with for 42 years in the AL, the DH. A wise scientist recently told me we shouldn’t make changes without understanding all the repercussions of that change. We know all the repercussions of the DH. Minimal. An 8 man line-up really changes the game. More frequent at-bats will affect the frequency each batter sees the pitcher. There will be unknown repercussions. Records will be affected. This is not necessary. We don’t need to change the game so drastically to improve it.

        Liked by 4 people

      • Historiophiliac:
        I think someone needs to revisit my very first post.

        https://scoutsaysweitersisabust.wordpress.com/2015/09/10/from-the-al-looking-in/

        Speaking as one who was not here at the beginning of time, I visited your first post. Nice read, and you did not go all crazy on the stats. Just looked at the way the game plays and how it is handled differently under the two sets of rules.

        I’ve been stuck with an AL team for about twenty years now, moving down the road from the Dodgers as a result of Fox and the Piazza trade. I’ve grown accustomed to the DH if not comfortable with it. One sentence in your thought piece stands out for me:
        “Herein lies the perplexity for an AL fan: essentially, NL-style ball penalizes good pitchers. The better they are, the more they have to go to the plate and undermine team offense.”
        I confess I never quite thought it out that way. In my head I was still regarding a “reliever” to be a two-three inning guy from my childhood of ten-man pitching staffs. Even without trying to confirm it, I realized I have not seen a non-SP at bat in I don’t know how long. Historio, you have succeeded where multiple media have failed: You have convinced me of the DH as necessary to the game.

        Since I have removed my objection, I’ll call my buddy since preschool (I call him Rob M.) and tell him to go ahead.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Charles O. Finley beat you to this idea by about 40 years. Not only was he the driving force behind the adoption of the DH rule in 1973, he envisioned a much more sweeping rule change. Finley wanted a complete lineup of defensive players and a separate lineup of hitters. As I recall, the offensive lineup was truncated as well; five hitters I believe. Man, would that have instantaneously played hell with the record books. It would also kind of suck to be the first guy who struck out ten times in one game.

      Also, orange baseballs.

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      • The orange baseball idea is interesting….I bet that would kill offense because guys wouldn’t be able to read the spin on balls.

        I remember orange hockey pucks from my youth…the idea being it would be easier for the fans to follow the puck….glad that didn’t last.

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        • Coming from years of softball experience, It’s actually easier to read the spin on the balls. The seams are black so they stand out a little more, especially against the black sky. That’s actually the point really. The problem with Orange or even Yellow colored baseballs is they get really grimy and slippery at even the hint of moisture. I would like to see a second first base added however.

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        • I was thinking of an orange ball that still had red seams…or even if they made the seams white.

          Because of the optical illusions created by knuckle balls, if players can’t see the seams, knuckle balls would be killed…essentially, the knuckleball would no longer be a useful pitch because the deception would be gone.

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      • FYI, Orange baseballs are not ideal. And you are right, red seams on an orange ball would be impossible to pick up. Really, it’s the bright yellow ones with red seams that work best.

        I still prefer white personally. The look, the feel. But yellow is much easier to see at night and stands out better during the day, especially on a cloudy overcast day. The ball does not hide as well. White works best on a perfectly clear day with a deep blue sky. But the coating they put on the ball to make it yellow changes the texture too dramatically. And it just seems to not fly as far. I don’t know why it just feels off even when you hit it. Although that’s entirely possibly just a placebo effect type scenario.

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  4. I’m surprised there isn’t more support for NL rules than there is. I wonder if we took an honest poll of 50k or so people who were baseball fans where the final tally were to lie. Do a large amount of fans really want pitchers batting or is it only a vocal minority? Also how much do those that do care really care? Will you get over it in a year or will it really sour your exoierence to the point where you stop watching?

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    • It’s only NL fans who really care, and even then we’re probably at only maybe about 75% of them.

      I have accepted that it’s eventually gonna happen. I don’t like it, but I’ve accepted it. I’m not going to stop watching baseball because of it, but it won’t be the same for me. Kinda like when they fired Dick York from Bewitched and hired Dick Sargent instead. I mean, it’s still Darren and the show’s still basically the same, but it’s just not quite as good as it used to be. And don’t judge me on my taste in bad old tv shows, everyone has a vice and mine is terrible pop culture.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Dick York was a truly gifted comedian and most fans of the show consider the change of Darren’s to be the point where the show declined. Sargent just never had the same chemistry with Elizabeth Montgomery. Agnes Moorehead in particular missed York as her foil. The producers didn’t fire him, though. Everybody there loved him and respected his talent. Sadly, York suffered from crippling back pain from an injury in a movie that predated Bewitched. He never recovered completely and battled a painkiller addiction as well. After five years of the show, the pain became too much. He took what was planned to be a hiatus to recover, but as we know, he never returned to the role of Darren Stevens.

        Goddamn do I miss Jump the Shark.

        Liked by 1 person

      • No judgment here other than – it was not a “bad” show. What we thought was funny then may not match with our present level of sophistication, but I was a big fan of “Bewitched”.

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    • Eh, it won’t bother me. I am simply arguing that I like the concept on 9-on-9. Having the DH is like hockey teams being allowed an extra skater when they have the puck. It is no longer conceptually what the game was.

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        • There is a difference between subbing players into or out of a game and only requiring them to contribute to 1/2 the game.

          Relief pitchers could bat. Pinch hitters do take the field, they don’t just pinch hit and let the guy they pinch hit for keep playing defense.

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        • They should if their turn in the order comes up…there is a difference between allowing a player to only play 1/2 the game while being in the game and replacing a player during the game.

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        • How many times this past season did Cards relievers bat? How many times did a position player who replaced a pitcher in the batting order pitch?

          Both leagues have part-time players — the AL is just upfront about it and goes for roster efficiency.

          Liked by 2 people

        • In baseball, the only players allowed to be replaced and then stay in the game are the pitcher and the DH.

          Again, there is a conceptual difference you are choosing to ignore between substitutes and the concept of the DH.

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        • You can call it conceptual but it doesn’t change the fact that most pitchers don’t bat in either league. You can put a jacket and a tie on it, but it’s still about minimizing the horribleness of pitchers batting.

          Liked by 1 person

      • As Indie points out, baseball is the only sport which tolerates differing playing field dimensions. It’s the only sport which permits an important rule difference between its two leagues. And all that is what’s great about it. This is all because baseball is the sport which evolved with, from nearly the beginning, America. Like America, baseball includes silly inconsistencies. Let’s keep it that way.

        Re having the best hitters hit instead of the pitcher, or however far that idea would be taken, baseball, unlike other sports, is the sport which shouldn’t need to depend on athletically spectacular plays. Is there anything more boring than the NBA all star game dunking contest, or for that matter the MLB all star game home run derby? If what you want is athleticism, forget about commercial team sports, watch Olympic gymnastics (boriiing!)

        I say keep the AL DH and don’t use it in the NL and have fun arguing about (to bad gator’s on vacation) for all of eternity.

        Liked by 1 person

        • FWIW, hockey rinks used to be different shapes and sizes until not all that long ago…then the NHL went to a standard size and more-or-less same shape….the corners still aren’t always the same shape.

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      • Twinsfan, just do it my way. I would not think the way I do if I wasn’t right. As your kind and benevolent dictator, I won’t steer you wrong, I promise.

        Relief pitchers can bat, but they should not.

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  5. I know it’s a losing battle. I know that eventually we’ll have to endure the tragedy that is designated hitters in the National League. And I know I am in the minority about all of this, but I really love watching pitchers bat. It’s one of my most treasured pleasures in life; just like watching a truly horrible movie, watching a pitcher bat gives me the purest joy.

    I know, logically, it’s terrible. It slows down the game and most people – especially AL fans – think it’s like getting a root canal, but so many of my greatest baseball memories come directly from pitchers batting.

    ZG and his beautiful bat flips. Maddux hitting a single off of Smoltz and then trolling him from first base. Kerry Wood hitting a home run in the playoffs. Roy Oswalt running like a madman in his warmup jacket towards home. Even my mortal enemy MadBum hitting a grand slam is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

    I’m going to miss it. I’m going to miss all of it. And it makes me really sad.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve been to many Cubs games in my life. The place has never been louder than it was when Kerry hit that shot.

      If you have some sort of otherworldly vision, you might be able to spot me in the seats. I’m somewhere in this blue circle, with my back up against that chain link fence that keeps drunks from falling to their death…

      Liked by 2 people

      • To this day, I still get antsy waiting for it. I mean, I know what’s happening, but the excitement I feel, the way that I get all wound up and jump up, fist pumping, half screaming? I don’t think that’s ever going to change. For real, even now it’s one of the greatest baseball moments of my life.

        God bless Kid K forever and always.

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    • Baseball will still give you goosebump moments. I 100% guarantee it.

      Us American Leaguers can share many of our special moments as well.

      Pitchers batting are not needed for the enjoyment of the game. I was once like you. I was a hardcore pitchers must bat person. I was a complete NL snob and thought AL ball was boring. You know what? I don’t miss it.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’m not against the DH. I’m against having it in both leagues. I propose adding the DH to the National League while simultaneously removing it from the American League. That’s what you call leadership, Manfred Man.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Pitchers batting is the cheesy garlic bread to baseball’s lasagna.

        Sure, you don’t “have” to have that garlic bread to enjoy that lasagna, but of course it’s better if you do have it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Exactly. If you’re going to worry about calories in an Italian restaurant, why bother going? I’m not sure this advances the argument, I just feel like it needed to be said.

        Liked by 1 person

      • This is a great debate. I love the back and forth between the Fan Interferers. However, I must point out that the cheesy garlic bread is an enhancement, not a detriment.

        Some Italian restaurants do terrific lasagna, and great garlic bread. Pitchers at bat is more like the salad. Even a good Italian place often has a pedestrian bag salad (iceberg, a little carrot and red cabbage) with a Good Seasons dressing.. The occasional excellent pitcher at bat is like when you expect the generic salad with uninspired dressing but get a nice little antipasto salad instead. The problem with pitcher at bats like that is even if you return to the same eatery (ballpark) the next 32 times you’ll get the shitty salad.

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      • Nothing at all. They had their own sound.

        You have to imagine those same two words with a little stank on them to get the message I’m trying to convey.

        One of my favorite arguments against the DH was always, “We can’t have two leagues with different rules” as the rule was already in place for over 40 years. Now this argument has been repurposed with the interleague play angle and I find it has again been empirically disproven.

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  6. I’m not a DH person. I do realize that it’s inevitable in the NL. I will hate it. The glorious imperfections of the NL are more enjoyable than the boring blandness of the AL to me. When all the teams look the same, when all the players are homogenized sameness, I’ll switch to table tennis. Yes, the DH brings more offense, but so friggin’ what! To me, that’s not what’s most enjoyable. If sheer offense was so important to me, I’d watch Arena Football. The unexpectedness of a pitcher getting a hit far outweighs the boring sameness of the DH. But, then again, that’s merely my own personal preference, and nobody but me really gives a crap about it.

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    • “boring sameness”

      Funny, because pitchers batting leads to the same outcome roughly 82-84% of the time. There’s a much greater diversity of outcomes when an actual hitter steps to the plate.

      Liked by 1 person

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