I Vote for Nine-Player Baseball

What’s with the current ridiculous groundswell of support for the DH in both leagues? I guarantee that I can refute any point established by the “home run derby” crowd.

Here are the first three tired, old debate quotes we hear from the pro DH masses:

1 – “Pitchers can’t hit.”

Tell that to Zack Greinke, Madison Bumgarner and several others who take their professionalism, their craft and their team play seriously. These are conditioned athletes who used to be the best hitters in every league where they played.

When they get to pro ball, their bats are taken away until they reach AA. And then, they only get to swing the bat (or even bunt) if they play for NL affiliates and only against an opponent that’s an NL affiliate.

When they reach the majors, they’re expected to succeed against the top pitchers in the world. They’re set up to fail. I’m sorry, but that’s an organizational issue, not a reason to neuter the integrity of the game.

No player should be given a pass from hitting, fielding or running unless they’re replaced in the lineup. That goes for the one-dimensional DH, too.

2 – “Pitchers can get hurt while hitting or running the bases.”

So can position players, right? Isn’t that called “baseball”?

Isn’t it interesting that no pitcher ever gets hurt on the mound? Shall we wrap them in bubble wrap? (I borrowed that visual from a position player friend.) Or maybe just use a pitching machine. Problem solved.

3 – “Fans love offense.”

Okay, let them play home run derby 162 times a year. Is that what baseball fans want?

The first DH game in MLB history ended up 15-5. The Yankees and Red Sox tallied 28 hits. The combined DH’s went 1-9 with one RBI. Exciting, huh? Mel Stottlemyre and Luis Tiant could have gone 1-9.

I wish I had been old enough to savor the 1968 season. I’ll pay to sit on the edge of my seat at a 1-0 game where every pitch matters. Where each manager struggles with the decision to pinch hit for a hot starter. Where a bunt, every 90 feet and any defensive play could turn the game.

On the other hand, 15-5 where nine hitters follow nine hitters and relievers can be dispensed as from a vending machine with no roster consequence? Just sit back and wait for the bomb, like in football? Call that what you want, but it isn’t “baseball” to me.

Care to offer your opinion? I welcome your comments, pro and con. I may respectfully reply, but that’s how civil discussion works.

By the way, I’m just getting started. More to come in the next post.

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