The Designated Hitter: a regrettable inevitability

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I’m a National League guy and I’ve never been a big fan of the DH. It’s not a superiority thing or an elitist thing — I know that pitchers can’t bat — it’s just a familiarity thing in my case. I’ve watched tons more NL ball than AL ball in my lifetime, I just like it better, and you have as much a chance at talking me out of that position than you do talking the Pope out of Catholicism.

The Philadelphia Daily News’ Bill Conlin hates the DH too — he hates just about everything — but unlike me, he’s ready to surrender:

The American League went from All-Star Game whipping boy and an entity
lacking the NL’s diversity and overall pizzazz to where it is today:
dominant for the simple reason that nine hitters in a lineup are better
than eight.

And where the disparity really kills the National League in the World
Series and in the equally lamentable interleague play is in the No. 9
spot. With their DHs typically power bats of the Matsui, David Ortiz,
Vlad Guerrero stripe, most teams configure their lineups to put speed
and contact at No. 9. A second leadoff hitter, if you will . . .

. . . Once again, I call for the National League to restore the measure of
competitive balance the DH rule has drained from the game since 1973.
It’s not because I like it – although the National League sometimes
reminds me of an auto industry where the automatic transmission was
never invented.

I can’t argue with the underlying logic, and that’s saying something here because I can argue with just about everything Bill Conlin says. But he’s right: it’s not aesthetically pleasing to watch fat, old players who can’t play defense anymore, but there’s no escaping the fact that they’re more effective in the batter’s box than a pitcher.  And while there are other things in play leading to the AL’s competitive advantages — having two teams in the Yankees and Red Sox driving higher payrolls being chief among them — the DH has contributed to that as well.  George Will probably said it best in his book Men at Work:

“The best case for the DH is this: It represents that rarest of
things, the triumph of evidence over ideology. The anti-DH ideology is
that there should be no specialization in baseball, no division of
labor: Everyone should play “the whole game.” That theory is
obliterated by this fact: Specialization is a fact with or without the
DH. Most pitchers only go through the motions at bat.”

I’m almost always going to go with evidence over ideology, but in this case I’ll make an exception.  Personally I hope the NL holds out. Not everything has to be about offense and vive la difference, don’t you know.

But I understand if they cave one day. It may be better for Major League Baseball in the long run, even if it doesn’t make for better baseball form an aesthetic point of view.

The Yankees Wild Card Game roster is set

Luis Severino
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Wild Card teams get to set their roster for the one-and-done game and then reset it for the Division Series if they advance. As such, you sometimes see some weirdness with the wild card roster. The Yankees, who just set theirs for tonight’s game, are no exception.

Masahiro Tanaka will be tonight’s starter, but Luis Severino, also a starter, will be around as well in case Tanaka gets knocked out early and they need more innings. In all, the Yankees are carrying nine pitchers and three catchers. In addition, they have Rob Refsnyder, Slade Heathcott, and pinch-runner Rico Noel as bench players. In case you forgot, pinch running can matter a lot in a Wild Card Game.

Jarrod Dyson Gif

Anyway, here’s the whole roster:

CC Sabathia’s bad weekend in Baltimore made him choose rehab

sabathia getty

It was inevitable that someone would report on what, specifically, was going on with CC Sabathia in the run up to his decision to go into rehab yesterday. And today we have that story, at least in the broad strokes, from the New York Post.

Speaking to an anonymous source close to Sabathia, the Post reports that the Yankees’ starter more or less went on a bender from Thursday into Friday and continued on to Saturday, which resulted in his Sunday afternoon phone call to Brian Cashman in which he said he needed help.

Notable detail: Sabathia is referred to as “not a big drinker” in the story. Which is something worth thinking about when you think of others who have trouble with alcohol. It’s not always about massive or constant consumption. It’s about the person’s relationship with substances that is the real problem. Many who drink a good deal are totally fine. Many who don’t drink much do so in problematic ways and patterns. For this reason, and many others, it’s useful to avoid engaging in cliches and stereotypes of addicts.