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

201 Comments

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.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
2 Comments

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.