Wednesday, July 13, 2011

24 comments Mike Lupica Wants the National League To Have the DH and I Want Mike Lupica To Go Away, So Neither of Us Will Get What We Want

I'm not a huge fan of Mike Lupica. It may be the way he sits forward in his seat and interrupts people on the "Sports Reporters," it could be just his overall smugness, or it could be because I just don't like his writing. Either way, Mike Lupica wants the National League to have the Designated Hitter and I want Mike Lupica to go away forever to a country without television or Internet. Neither of us will probably get our wish. Why does the National League have to have the DH? Unfortunately, Mike Lupica tries to answer this question. He fails, at least in my opinion.

Is this really a huge priority for baseball? Expanding the DH to the National League? Why can't we just get rid of the DH? Or would that negatively affect the Yankees in some way? How would they be able to stash aging, expensive hitters at the DH position if there isn't a DH?

There is no president of the National League any longer, no president of the American League, there is just commissioner, Bud Selig, that's it and that's all.

I already see where this is going. One set of rules. Blah, blah, blah. If you want one set of rules, don't have home plate umpires anymore and have computer determine the strike zone. Make everything uniform in every stadium so no team has an advantage in any form while playing another team. That would give every game the same set of rules and takes the subjective opinion of a ball and strike away from the umpire, as well as make certain one ball park isn't built to focus on the home team's strengths. Of course, I am sure Mike Lupica would hate these ideas. He only wants a consistent set of rules in certain cases.

These are just obvious reasons there should be one set of rules in baseball,

Not really. The rules in baseball are just one set of rules. One league uses the DH and the other league doesn't. I think it adds a little bit of intrigue during the World Series and interleague play. I may be in the minority on this opinion.

Baseball is unique in there isn't really a uniform field size as well and Mike Lupica seems to have no issue with this. Some field have more foul territory and shorter fences, while other fields have less foul territory and fences that are further back. It's just part of the game.

why it is has become completely and officially and clinically insane to have the designated hitter in one league and no designated hitter in the other.

Fine, let's get rid of the DH then. Baseball survived for 80 years without it. But we all know that isn't the conclusion Lupica is trying to achieve. He doesn't like the different sets of rules, but he also doesn't want to get rid of the DH. So it isn't really the different set of rules that bothers him, but the lack of a DH in the National League.

because the out-of-date rules about the DH now affect the integrity of the season and the schedule more than all the interleague baseball does.
It's the integrity of the game that pays! This is a pretty weak argument in my opinion. Interleague play takes up a small amount of the schedule, so for the majority of the year teams are playing against each other with both teams used to having/not having the DH. It isn't like when the Nationals to go to play the Phillies in Philadelphia there are different rules than if the game was played in Washington.

Your team is supposed to be your team.

I'm not sure what this means in the context of this argument. Every MLB team has a roster of players that aren't necessarily used in certain set ways. Some players play a different position one night or bat in a different position in the order the next night.

Only now there are all these interleague games every season. Why? Because baseball gets a spike in attendance out of them, that's why. I get it. This is about business.
Interleague games are about business. I get it. The DH in American League parks and no DH in National League parks affect the integrity of the game again, how? Let's stay focused and not just try to take up space to fill the entire column.

But this is about the business of baseball today, and I don't care what the records say about how the American League usually does against the National League in interleague baseball.
You mean the records that show the American League does well against the National League, so the fact there are different rules doesn't seem to negatively affect the American League. In fact, since the National League traditionally does worse during interleague play, wouldn't it make sense to get rid of the DH so the American League doesn't have an "advantage" during interleague play?

It no longer makes any sense to have two sets of rules for what my dear friend Bob Ryan calls the greatest game ever invented by mortal minds.

Why do writers like name dropping Bob Ryan so much? It is good to see Mike Lupica has friends though. Dan Shaughnessy consistently name drops Bob Ryan as well. Dan Shaughnessy's columns generally look like this:

"The 2004 Red Sox. Curse. 2003 Red Sox and 2003 Yankees. ALCS. Bob Ryan told me this was true. Aaron Boone. The Celtics and the Patriots. Boston sports are great. Curse of the Bambino. Bob Ryan."

I need to meet a guy named "Bob Ryan" just to name drop him in casual conversations. This would probably be the greatest length a person had ever gone to in order to start an inside joke with himself.

There are only two ways to do this,
There is actually a third way. Mike Lupica could just deal with the different rules in the American and National League. I don't like the DH, but it really doesn't bother me during interleague play.

knowing that the Major League Baseball Players Association is never going to give up DH jobs without a fight,
So the reason to change the rules about pitchers batting that have governed the National League for over 100 years should be changed because the union doesn't want it? I realize this is a valid point, that the union doesn't want to lose the DH jobs, but the fact there may be an argument over this change isn't a reason to avoid the fight if baseball really wanted to get rid of the DH.

What about what the National League wants? I guess that doesn't matter?

One solution comes from my friend Tom Hirdt of the Elias Sports Bureau, who says that you eliminate the DH, but expand rosters to 26 or 27 players.

"It gets rid of the DH, but brings more strategy into the game," Hirdt says.

Well, that gets rid of that problem I guess. Though I doubt Mike Lupica really has two friends. That seems a bit unrealistic.

In reality, this doesn't fix the problem because Mike Lupica wants the DH in both leagues. This really isn't about the union or different sets of rules, but is about Mike Lupica wanting the DH used throughout baseball.

The simpler solution is to give everybody the DH, have everybody play the same rules the American League has been playing for years, no harm, no foul, we move on.

"No harm, no foul, we move on."

You know, except for the fact the National League may not want the DH. Who cares what the National League wants though? It's just the National League. If the National League was so important, the Red Sox and Yankees would play in the National League. They don't, so who cares what National League teams want.

(By the way, if anyone wants to accuse me of just protecting my favorite team, you are wrong. I would love to have Chipper Jones DH every night so Martin Prado could play third base and the Braves could then acquire an everyday left fielder to replace Prado. The DH was made for guys who are the point in their career Chipper Jones is.)

There are two sets of rules for Major League Baseball. Enough. If you agree, write a letter to the baseball commissioner about this, or Michael Weiner of the Major League Baseball Players Association, or to the owner of your team, or to the general manager. This has to be the last year of this.
I really don't see the problem to be honest. I don't like the DH, but I also don't mind the different rules in each league. If you make me choose, I choose not to have the DH.

This has to be the last year where someone like Vlad Guerrero of the Orioles has to basically take a furlough from being a regular player when the Orioles play interleague ball in a National League park.
Oh sure, because Vlad Guerrero shouldn't have to be punished due to the fact he can't field a position anymore. We don't want baseball players who only have one skill set at this point in their careers to be disadvantaged in any way. I don't believe this is a bad thing that Vlad Guerrero can't play because there is no DH in the National League. Unfortunately, in the National League the players who hit have to also field their position. I don't see this as a bad thing.

"You know, I like how Ivan Rodriguez fields his position, but I don't really want him hitting. This has to be the last year Rodriguez has to bat and can't just be a permanent catcher with no hitting responsibilities."

Or David Ortiz of the Red Sox, the second-most important hitter on a team that thinks it has a chance to win the AL East and maybe the World Series this year, has a great season disrupted and not because of injury or a slump, because of the rules.
David Ortiz can still play first base when he has to. As I expected, this DH rule change is really just a covert way to make sure the Yankees and Red Sox don't have to put any of their highly paid players on the bench in a National League park. When in doubt while dealing with a Mike Lupica column, just assume it is all about the Yankees and Red Sox.

To get Ortiz back in the batting order the other night against the Phillies, Adrian Gonzalez - who IS the Red Sox's best hitter - had to go play rightfield for the second time in his career.
Let's pretend Mike Lupica gave a shit about the flip side of this rule. When the Braves are playing in an American League park, Brooks Conrad or Julio Lugo has to play third base. Why can't the DH be outlawed so the Braves can keep their absolute best players in the lineup and don't have to start an inferior player in the hitting lineup or in the field? If we are going to cater to the American League teams fielding needs, let's pretend to cater to the National League team's hitting needs.

Did the Red Sox lose two of three to the lowly San Diego Padres at home using the DH last week? You bet they did. Then they lost two of three to the Pirates in Pittsburgh and used Ortiz solely as a pinch-hitter.

I do like how Mike Lupica is basically just saying the rules should be changed so the Red Sox have the best chance to win games and get their best team on the field. Who knew Boston and New York could come together like this?

This is some great shitty reasoning being used. The Red Sox lost to crappy teams, so the rules need to be changed so this doesn't happen.

So maybe they would have lost those two of three anyway. But they should not have had to try.

Just like National League teams shouldn't have to try to find another quality bat on their bench when they are in an American League stadium. The argument American League teams don't have enough good fielders to put their best team out on the field, so they need to use the DH, is just as good as the argument a National League team doesn't have enough hitters to put their best team on the field against an American League team, so they shouldn't have to use the DH.

This is a system that has gone on for far too long and needs to be changed now, and the only way it gets changed is if everybody who loves baseball starts to make some noise about it.

But I don't like the DH. Don't assume everyone agrees with you. I'm just not a fascist asshole who believes just because I don't like something it shouldn't exist.

It is a little different for the National League teams, because most teams have a hitter coming off the bench for whom managers are always trying to get some extra at-bats.

What a fantastic generalization. Every National League team has a hitter coming off the bench that needs more at-bats. Even if this was true with every team in the National League, I don't want the DH in the National League.

It would sound a lot better if you could say, Get rid of the DH now. Again: I like Tom Hirdt's idea, but I don't believe it will ever happen.
Translation: Mike Lupica doesn't want it to happen because then the Yankees would have too many players and not enough batting spots available. Where can the aging, out-of-shape "players" go if there isn't a DH?

So the movement is to bring the DH to the National League, as much as that is going to upset Cliff Lee. It is the only thing that makes sense.

Not true. I like the idea of adding roster spots and playing without a DH.

But in our national pastime, you have a system that is as out-of-touch with the modern realities of the game as wool uniforms and those tiny gloves they used to use.

What would be next? A designated fielder for the entire game? A designated runner for the entire game? I'm being ridiculous because I see no problem with the current set up.

There is, I believe, a lot about to change in baseball over the next several months. They are surely going to add a couple of teams to the playoffs and they might cut the schedule down from 162 games, and might move a team to the American League so we have leagues of 15 and 15, and go ahead and try to figure how interleague baseball is going to work with THAT.

Oh yeah, it would just be straight madness if there were equal teams in the American and National League. Interleague play only works best when each league has a different number of teams, that's what Mike Lupica believes.

I enjoy how Mike Lupica wants the rules changed because one league has the DH and the other league does not, but he thinks putting the same number of teams in each division would cause chaos.

I will give them all of that. But they have to give me something back. They've got to give me one set of rules for all of baseball, once and for all.

Then let's add a roster spot and get rid of the DH...but Mike Lupica doesn't want that. What he really wants is to use the American League set of rules for baseball and use the DH in the National League.


JimA said...

Did the Red Sox lose two of three to the lowly San Diego Padres at home using the DH last week? You bet they did.

How does this help his argument? Boston had it's best hitters available to them and they lost.

The reason I'd like to see both leagues agree on the DH is that presently neither team can play their regular line-ups every game during the World Series. We don't need to see Vlad Guerrero in the outfield when he hasn't been out there all season.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Mike. I know I will get a ton of crap from NL people but most pitchers suck ass at hitting. "Hey the pitchers coming up lets walk this guy to get to him" is NOT strategy

Anonymous said...

And as far as the NL not "Wanting"a DH. Why? Cheap ass MF owners is the only reason I can think of

Bengoodfella said...

JimA, I think I may be in the minority on this. Clearly from the comments I am. I don't think I have a problem with a different lineup being used in the World Series. I'm not sure why I feel this way. For me, if Vlad can't play the outfield then that's just something his team has to deal with. The idea of a guy not able to play the field and being able to hit isn't something I love, though I am not in favor of getting rid of the DH. I can live with the two rules.

Anon1, most pitchers do suck at hitting. No doubt about that, but I don't know if most teams walk the #8 guy to get to the pitcher. Plus, I like some of the strategy involved when a pitcher is pitching well and coming up to bat the next inning when his team is down. Pull the pitcher and try to score a run with a pinch hitter. I know AL guys don't like this though. Mike Lupica just wants the DH b/c he doesn't want the Yankees to have to sit one of their old players who can't play the field when they play an NL team.

Anon2, I don't know if it just that the NL owners are cheap. There are NL teams who spend money. Also, I don't know if a DH would add that much payroll to a roster really. It's just a matter of using an existing bench guy as the DH.

Out of the Top 15 teams in payroll in MLB, there are 7 AL teams and 8 NL teams. Out of the 10 teams in payroll there are 6 AL teams and 4 NL teams. I am not sure NL teams are really that cheap. It is true 4 of the top 5 teams in payroll are AL teams though.

Maybe some teams are cheap, but I would hope that isn't the reason to not want the DH.

David said...

"Baseball is unique in there isn't really a uniform field size as well" - not really that unique at all, Australian Rules Football and Cricket both come to mind readily as sports that do not have uniform field sizes. Yet the still manage to have the same set of rules across all games. Nothing wrong with that, as teams need to adapt to conditions, but at least they all play under the same rules.
Having a different position in for one team against another gives unfair advantages that go way beyond home field advantage.

As someone with only a passing interest in baseball (if that) nut a lover of sport, it does seem incredulous that this scenario does not get resolved so both teams taking the field have the same line ups.

Bengoodfella said...

David, I should have been more specific in that baseball was the only major sport (basketball, football, baseball, hockey) that didn't have a uniform field size. You are right though, Australian Rules Football, from what little I know about it, doesn't have a uniform field size.

I was using that point more as evidence that everything doesn't have to be equal when two teams play each other in MLB. A guy hits a home run at one park and it may not be a home run if he is playing in another park. I do realize there is a difference in ball park size and two different leagues playing by different rules.

There really isn't a different position for one team that there isn't for another in baseball. It is more a matter of a different set of rules in one league versus another. So one team isn't at a disadvantage based on simply on the rule, because the NL isn't batting their pitcher and the AL doesn't have a DH when they play each other.

It is more of a potential disadvantage based on roster construction. I just don't see it as a huge problem because when the two teams are on the field against each other, there are the same rules for both teams. It isn't teams are playing each other by a different set of rules at the time they are playing each other.

If wanted to clear that up, if I understood you correctly, that there is the same set of rules when an NL-AL matchup happens, it is just the DH is used in an AL ball park and no DH is used if the game is in an NL ball park.

I have no issue with the different rules really. If Vlad Guerrero can't play the outfield (to use Jim's example) in an NL park that is just tough luck, just like if an NL team doesn't have 9 good hitters to use one as a DH that is just tough luck. If forced at gun point I would get rid of the DH over putting the DH in both leagues, but I don't think it should come to that. I see no issue with the separate rules. Let the AL have their DH that can't play the field like Jim Thome and I will take the NL where the pitcher bats.

Matt said...

i love that the two leagues have diferent rules. it's one of many things that makes baseball so unique.

notice how MLB does not have an overall MVP. you have LEAGUE MVP's. LEAGUE Cy Young's, and LEAGUE rookies of the year.

the fact that the DH exists makes the leagues far different. that's what's is so cool about Interleague play (even though most dislike it for some reason) and the World Series. two teams coming from "alien" leagues from each other coming together.

eliminating or adding the DH would simply homogenize a product that thrives off of it's uniqueness. i see no reason to do that.

i will add this. i hate seeing pitchers come up to squash a rally. i really do. most of them fail 90% of the time. it often keeps the games close and low scoring, and much more interesting in the later innings. so it does have a positive side effect.

Bengoodfella said...

Matt, I think you and I are in the minority on the DH issue. I figured that may be what happened. A lot of people don't like seeing the pitcher bat. I will agree with you, I don't like to see the pitcher come up and kill a rally, but I see the pitcher (and I know I am in the minority on this as well) as a fielder just like the catcher and the other players, so I like that he bats.

Does it piss me off that Tommy Hanson comes to the plate with 1 out and men on 2nd and 3rd in the 5th inning? A little bit, but if that situation happens in the 7th inning I think that's what makes the game fun. The manager has to decide whether to pull him for a pinch hitter or not.

I think the different rules do make baseball unique, and not in a bad way. The two leagues are created as separate when it comes time for awards at the end of the year, partially because the two leagues didn't play each other, so I don't see an issue with the DH in the AL and no DH in the NL. As long as the same rules apply to both teams when they go head-to-head, I am fine.

I like seeing two teams that are just slightly different go against each other too in interleague play. Like I said in my post, I would love for Chipper Jones to be a DH so Prado could go to 3B and the Braves could acquire an OF (or 3). It would make the Braves a stronger team. Part of me likes that Chipper has to play the field and can't be just a DH as well though.

Matt said...

btw, hell of a race in the NL East. you think the Braves can make a run at the Phillies in the second half?

Bengoodfella said...

Matt, I don't think the Braves can make a run. The Phillies should hit better in the 2nd half and unless they have injuries I think the Braves are playing for the Wild Card.

The Braves have taxed their bullpen heavily and outside of the three guys they have worn down in then pen, there aren't any other reliable guys out there. So I expect the pen to get weaker, but they probably hit better with Heyward getting healthier and Prado coming back. Of course Chipper is injured (again) so God only know what will happen with him.

I think it is Phils with the NL East unless the Braves manage to get an IF bat, an OF bat, and a reliever for when Kimbrel, Venters and O'Flaherty's arms fall off.

The Phillies are just so damn good, it sucks to be the team with the 3rd best record in baseball and in that division.

Matt said...

Ben, good points. has a reliever ever pitched in 162 games as Venters is about to? (hyperbole, but just barely)

i am enjoying 2 braves rookies in my FBB league - Beachy and Freeman.

Bengoodfella said...

Matt, I think Mike Marshall came pretty close. Venters is on pace for 100 appearances this year. I just assume his arm will fall off sometime in early September.

I hope the Braves trade Beachy/Minor and get an outfielder. They need to do something. They have 7 pitchers for 5 rotation slots.

JimA said...

Mike Marshall 106 appearances.

Bengoodfella said...

JimA, what's ridiculous is that I think Kimbrel and O'Flaherty aren't far behind him either. It makes me nervous every time they pitch.

Bengoodfella said...

Also, I saw on PTI today that Bob Ryan agrees with my position on the DH. Not sure if that should make me rethink my position or not.

Murray said...

I guess it depends on what you grew up with. I'm 33 and Boston born and bread so the DH seems silly to me. I am sure if I grey up in an NL city I would think the DH is silly

Murray said...

Whoops I meant no DH seems silly sorry for the typo

Bengoodfella said...

I am a Braves fan, so I have grown accustomed to not having the DH. I can handle having the DH when they play AL teams, it doesn't bother me. Though the pitcher batting sometimes annoys me, I do slightly prefer it to the DH.

I guess I am in the minority in that I don't see the big deal of having interleague play and the DH in one league and no DH in the other. I find it interesting.

rich said...

have everybody play the same rules the American League has been playing for years, no harm, no foul, we move on.

How is this even considered an argument? "The AL has been playing with the DH and it's been fine, so make the NL play with a DH."

Well the NL has been playing without the DH for years, so screw the AL and make them play without the DH.

Arguments that can work for both sides aren't good arguments.

Additionally, I love the NL rules. I love that there are some pitchers who can hit better than other. Cliff Lee hit his first HR the other day. I'm pretty sure Carlos Zambrano has more HRs than David Eckstein.

I also think like you do BGF, in that I love the strategy. There's a certain tension to a game when a pitcher is cruising, but is down by a run. Do you pull him and take your chances with your relievers? Do you keep him in and pray that the other hitters can come through?

If there's two outs, do you just consider the inning lost and keep him in? What if there's one out? What if there's 2 on and no outs?

There's a constant risk/reward element. Is the risk of conceeding an out override having to turn the game over to the bullpen?

I also think that the pitcher hitting changes the way the bullpen is used. If there are two outs in an inning, but the SP is laboring, but is due up in the next half inning, do you leave him in the game? Do you bring in a reliever knowing you're going to probably pull him after that one out?

Although Murray is spot on, people argue based on what is "normal" to them. I follow the NL, so the DH seems weird and unnecessary to me.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, on PTI yesterday Dan LeBetard (spelling?) said no one comes to the game to watch the manager manage. I understand this, but managing is a part of the game. No one goes to an NFL game to watch Bill Belichick coach, but it is a part of the game. His other argument was that no one wants to see the 24th man on the team play. I get that as well, but why have a roster of 25 players if they don't get used at some point?

I enjoy the strategy presented during a game like that. It actually makes the manager do his job. Do you pull a cruising pitcher when you are down for pinch hitter or do you keep him in the game? Yes, I don't always like it when a pitcher bats, but I think I like that better than some aging veteran who can't do much but hit (cough...Chipper) goes to bat and then sits on the bench.

I wouldn't throw a fit if the DH was made universal, but I also wouldn't favor it. You are right an argument that goes both ways can't justify one of the positions, but not the other.

I enjoy the managerial decisions because it helps me second-guess and see how the manager runs the game. I know people don't pay to see that, but it is part of the game.

rich said...


I'll say this, considering the top two teams in the NL both rely on pitching (Phillies and Braves), the fact that there's no DH is a huge deal.

Think about what happens if the Braves and Phillies both make the playoffs and meet in the NLCS? Jurrjens vs. Halladay, tied 0-0 but two runners, two outs, pitcher spot coming up.

Do either of those pitchers get pulled? It's a tough decision.

Just like Grady Little gets flak for not pulling Pedro, imagine if an NL manager pulled a cruising starter only to watch the bullpen implode (fuck you Baez)?

Lebatard is kind of an idiot. No one pays to watch the manager, which is true, but it's only a half truth. Like you said, no one pays to watch BB manage, but what if the manager really sucked at their job? Would people watch then?

I know baseball isn't like football in that managers don't impact the game as much as football coaches, but bullpen strategy is a huge deal, especially in the playoffs.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, Fredi Gonzalez has an easy answer to your hypothetical situation. Of course you pull Jair Jurrjens and pitch O'Flaherty or Venters, even if they are pitching on their 19th consecutive day. When in doubt, tax the shit out of your bullpen.

The Braves could use a DH w/ Chipper. He's injured again, but he could probably bat. If a manager sucks then people will watch and criticize the manager. I like the strategy of it enough to not get pissed off when a pitcher has to bat during a rally.

Martin F. said...

My friend Dewey and I used to have this argument all the time. He is a DH guy, and I'm not. His argument was "Pitchers can't hit and I hate having to watch them try." My argument was "DH's usually can't even field well enough to play 1b, so if you can't field a position, you shouldn't be able to hit."

Funnily enough, I'd be fine with a defensive and offensive roster, just can't pinch hit or make defensive changes with guys already playing. If a hitter isn't playing defense, they can't go in the game to defend later on, and same with a defender can't later come in as a batter. It would totally change the game, but having watched Kevin Elster, Mark Belanger, Adam Everett and similar sucky hitters play in the field and then walk to the plate supremely overmatched, why only eliminate pitchers?

Bengoodfella said...

Martin, the only defensive/offensive problem I can think of it the rosters would have to be expanded. Well, there are other problems, but I think that's foremost in my mind. There would possibly be no room for pinch hitters at all.

I sort of feel like if you can't play a position then you shouldn't hit. See, I view the pitcher as a guy who plays a position. Granted, it is a very important position. I don't hate the DH, but I really don't want the NL to have it. Pitchers should be able to hit better than do, though I know they focus on pitching most of the time.