There's nothing better than pitchers batting

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I tend not to enjoy arguments about religion, but once in a while you have to go there:

It’s a real shame that so many American League pitchers have been
denied a chance to hit. As much as A’s fans enjoyed the pure athletic
ability of Vida Blue, Mike Norris, Rick Langford and Dave Stewart over
the years, they could have seen so much more. Given a reason to work on
their hitting, they all would have responded professionally. Or maybe
not, in a case or two. You learn something there, too.

“But it’s an age of specialization,” people say. On what basis?
There are no designated runners or fielders. Specialization is an NFL
team employing different defensive units on four consecutive plays.
Specialization was forced upon the American League when the DH arrived
in 1973, but it never was warranted. Without question, we’ve witnessed
golden DH moments from the likes of Tony Oliva, Orlando Cepeda, Harold
Baines, Edgar Martinez, David Ortiz, but I invariably ask myself, why?
In what brand of league does a player not bat for himself? Have we
become a generation of elitist pipe-smokers, outraged at the sight of
an athlete’s vulnerability? “Fetch me my Thoreau, Jeeves. Barry Zito is
batting.”

The “different set of rules” argument gets tiresome, as well. Thank
goodness the National League has a traditional set of rules, and the
disparity doesn’t harm the game in the slightest. It’s still the same
game. Different rules would be three balls for a walk, or you start out
by running to third.

I’ll come out and admit that I’m a National League guy and I hate the
DH. Like Bruce Jenkins in this article, however, my dislike of the DH
is not necessarily about being a traditionalist, the beauty of the
double switch or the strategy or any of that. As history has shown,
most managers overthink that crap anyway and all of that switching
tends to bring the game to a grinding halt.

No, I’ll just come out and admit it: I like to see pitchers hit. I
know that’s usually the first attack against the NL setup — Pitchers
are feeble! It’s horrid to watch them flail! — but to me it truly is
an aesthetic plus. Seeing an overmatched pitcher trying to hit is the
closest thing we can get to seeing what it’s like for schmos like us to
hit. True, most of the time they fail, but when they succeed, I am
thrilled for them and feel strangely vindicated. And even if they do
fail, it just makes you appreciate how good even the eighth best batter
in a given lineup truly is.

If I had to guess, I’d say that the AL is more popular than the NL,
and that because of it there are more DH fans than not. And I’ll even
grant that my rationale for getting rid of the DH — pitchers batting
is beautiful, baby — is pretty far out there. But like I said in the
beginning, this is really a religious argument.

And like all other religious arguments, understand: once you realize
how irrational and wrong you are, and how right I am, the quicker we’ll
have peace.

(link via BTF)

Drew Smyly brings youth and experience to Mariners rotation

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PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) Trades don’t surprise Drew Smyly anymore.

At age 27, the Seattle Mariners left-hander has been dealt twice. The first swap sent him from the team that drafted and developed Smyly, the Detroit Tigers, to the Tampa Bay Rays in midseason 2014. That trade landed star pitcher David Price in Detroit.

“I was surprised by that one,” Smyly said.

The most recent trade involving him came in January, when the Rays shipped Smyly to Seattle for three prospects in one of many moves by Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto. Smyly immediately joined the Mariners’ projected starting rotation, and is having fun getting to know his new teammates at spring training by way of manager Scott Servais’ clubhouse icebreakers.

Servais thinks Smyly is a solid fit as a still young yet experienced pitcher.

“One, being where he’s at in his career age-wise and service time, he’s kind of at the point where, put him in the right environment … very good defensive outfield, he’s a fly ball guy, maybe he does step up and take the next step,” Servais said. “Getting out of the American League East certainly should help him, but there’s no guarantees. Our division’s pretty tough.”

Servais suggested that another Arkansas native, ex-big leaguer Cliff Lee, might have helped sell Seattle on Smyly. Lee is a former Mariner and the two share an agent.

Smyly went 7-12 in a career-high 30 starts last season in Tampa, but won five games from July 30 to the end of the season after starting out 2-11. From May 21 to July 18, he lost seven straight starts.

“Pitching’s tough, you know,” Smyly said. “To manipulate the ball, to make it do different things, to put it in the strike zone with hitters that know what they’re doing. … I just had a rough stretch but I show up at the field every day, play catch and work on my craft and you know, that’s going to turn around one day.”

The 32 home runs Smyly surrendered in 2016 figure to be reduced in Seattle’s pitcher-friendly Safeco Field.

“It can only help,” he said. “But it’s still going to be up to me to execute pitches and pitch well.”

Smyly is set to join the U.S. World Baseball Classic team shortly. Before that, he’ll make his first spring training start in the middle of next week.

“It’s an honor to be able to put your country on your chest and play with some of the guys on that team,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it big time.”

NOTES: Servais plans to roll out what figures to be Seattle’s opening day lineup in the spring training opener Saturday against San Diego. It’s OF Jarrod Dyson, SS Jean Segura, 2B Robinson Cano, DH Nelson Cruz, 3B Kyle Seager, OF Mitch Haniger, 1B Dan Vogelbach, C Mike Zunino and OF Leonys Martin. … Servais said Cano and Cruz will play a little more than is typical for early spring games, as the two will depart for the World Baseball Classic in early March. … LHP Ariel Miranda will start Saturday, then RHP Chris Heston Sunday, RHP Yovani Gallardo on Monday and ace Felix Hernandez on Tuesday.

Mitt Romney’s sons are trying to buy a stake in the Yankees

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 30:  Tagg Romney son of Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gives an interview during the final day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 30, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate during the RNC which will conclude today.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:

The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.

The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.

I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.

In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.