I don’t love the DH — I have an irrational, subjective preference for pitchers batting — but I do accept that it exists. Heck, I even think — when I’m not being irrational and subjective — that it’d be better for baseball to make the DH uniform across the leagues. I’ve argued that much in the past.
But even if you’re not as willing to subvert you own religious beliefs as I am, don’t you at least have to acknowledge the DH’s existence? An existence that has lasted longer than almost everyone who votes for the Hall of Fame has been covering baseball? Not if you’re Paul Daugherty you don’t. Here’s his take on Frank Thomas’ Hall of Fame candidacy:
Thomas is close. But some of his highly impressive numbers came as a DH, and he played for a very long time. Great career? Yeah. HOF career? Eh.
He goes on:
DH is NOT a position. It’s a hybrid creation, used by half of MLB.How many lifetime NL guys might be in the Hall had they been traded in their dotage to the American League, where all they had to do was rake?
And if me auntie was a man she’d be me uncle.
The DH was created in 1973. That was 15 years before Daugherty began covering sports in Cincinnati and certainly includes the vast majority of his baseball-watching life. It’s more established and ingrained than the ninth-inning-only closer. It has existed longer than integrated baseball had existed at the time the DH was adopted. It’s not new-fangled. It’s not experimental. And as the exploits of Paul Molitor, David Ortiz, Edgar Martinez and Frank Thomas show, it’s not some silly and obscure footnote to what happens on a baseball field.
I think one of the worst things about Hall of Fame voters is when they impose their own arbitrary standards into the analysis. But it’s way worse for them to do this by importing their own arbitrary rules to the game of baseball itself like Daugherty is here.
MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that starter Clay Buchholz is at Citizens Bank Park for Wednesday night’s game against the Marlins. The right-hander recently underwent surgery to repair a partial tear of his flexor pronator mass. The timetable for his recovery is three to five months, but most are expecting him to miss the rest of the season since the Phillies aren’t legitimate contenders.
According to Zolecki, Buchholz apologized to GM Matt Klentak “and others” — presumably other front office staff and/or his teammates — for getting injured. Buchholz hopes to return to pitch in September.
It’s saddening to me, and indicative of the general anti-labor culture in sports, that a player feels obligated to apologize for getting injured on the job. Injuries are nothing new for Buchholz, which might have factored into his decision to apologize. Red Sox fans got on his case quite a bit over the years for his propensity to land on the disabled list. But it wasn’t like Buchholz was taking unnecessary risks; he simply did his job, which entails doing a lot of unhealthy movement with his arm. Buchholz owes no one an apology.
Buchholz isn’t the only player to have apologized for getting injured. Outfielder Hideki Matsui apologized to the Yankees in 2006. Starter Masahiro Tanaka apologized in 2014. Twins reliever Glen Perkins apologized last year. Even Madison Bumgarner sort of apologized for suffering injuries riding a dirt bike on an off-day, saying “It’s definitely not the most responsible decision I’ve made.” Because god forbid an athlete has interests and hobbies outside of his vocation.
Players are brought up in a sports culture that allows exorbitantly wealthy owners to bilk the players — laborers — at every possible turn. They’re mostly underpaid and poorly taken care of in the minors. If and when they reach the major leagues, their salaries are intentionally depressed for six years and their service time is toyed with (just ask Kris Bryant). Buchholz endured that and then endured the criticism that comes with having been a hyped prospect who mostly failed to live up to expectations. He’s gone above and beyond what he needed to do to have a successful career as a professional baseball player, even if it wasn’t as much as fans or front office personnel would have liked.
Update (5:22 PM ET): Thames is dealing with left hamstring tightness. Manager Craig Counsell says it’s “not a big deal,” Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
Brewers first baseman Eric Thames left Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Reds in the top of the eighth inning with an apparent injury. Thames took his position to start the inning, but was replaced by Jesus Aguilar. Thames had flied out weakly to center field to end the previous inning, so perhaps something happened while he ran that out.
The Brewers should provide an update shortly on the exact nature of Thames’ early exit. Needless to say, losing Thames to the disabled list would be a huge blow to the 11-11 Brewers, as he entered Wednesday leading all of baseball in runs (25), home runs (11), slugging percentage (.929), and OPS (1.411). Thames was 1-for-3 with a single, a pair of walks, and two runs scored before leaving.