Comment of the Day: do not underestimate the seriousness of the anti-DH crowd

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Yesterday Max Scherzer was quoted as saying “who’d people rather see hit — Big Papi or me. Who would people rather see, a real hitter hitting home runs or a pitcher swinging a wet newspaper? Both leagues need to be on the same set of rules.”

I laughed when I saw that, thinking that there’s no way someone would deny that very narrow comment in the scope of the larger DH argument. I mean, NO ONE would rather see a pitcher bat over an excellent DH in isolation. They may still prefer the NL rules based on the balances and tradeoffs, but clearly everyone will admit that — in isolation — it’s better to see a good hitter hit than a crappy one. Right?

Wrong!  I’ve been debating my DH post over at the excellent Baseball Think Factory today, and the commenter with whom I have engaged the most said this (see comment #95):

The entire argument that pro-DH people make about pitchers hitting boils down to this: “Who wants to watch pitchers hit, they suck at it!”

We all know they suck. We love it anyway, both for strategic reasons and for the moment of sheer, unbridled joy and hilarity that comes when a pitcher gets a hit. I’d rather watch a pitcher hit than I would any DH, even Edgar Martinez.

The DH removes so much of what National League fans enjoy about baseball, and to institute it in the NL is to change the very fabric of what many of us consider to be baseball.

I challenged the guy on it, thinking that he was just going a bit too far in the rhetoric to make a point, but he stood by his argument. He would actually like to a pitcher bat over Edgar Martinez. He didn’t say so, but I suspect it’s based on some notion that the very fact that Martinez was DHing would somehow sap his enjoyment from the experience. Nose-meet-knife-meet-face-meet-spite.

Perhaps I underestimated just how stuck in their ways the anti-DH folks are. I mean, preferences are preferences and the default should be to respect them, but if you’re the sort of person would rather watch a pitcher bat than one of the best hitters in the past several decades, then we are speaking such totally different languages that there’s no point in continuing.

Personally, I watch baseball to see good baseball players perform at a high level. If that’s not your bag, enjoy the game on the basis you choose. Just don’t expect me to understand it.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.