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.