Friday, October 20, 2006

Go Cardinals!

Not that I have anything against Detroit. It's just that they're in the league that plays a debased version of the game; one in which strategy has been sacrificed to short attention spans.

Update: The Cards got off to a good start last night, which was particularly important because they started a rookie pitcher with a questionable record, but who happened to have the only fully rested arm available.

Fray colleague JMB weighs in on my side in the DH rule contoversy, but backs the Tigers because he's Detroit born and raised. Fair enough. I give my wife a pass to support an AL team because she's from Massachusetts.

Update-update: Unfortunately, there are bad precedents concerning winning the first and losing the second game of a series in this post-season. Just ask Joe Torre and Willie Randolph. I hope Tony LaRussa's law degree will help him distinguish the Cards' case.

As for Twiff's (scroll down) arguments in favor of the DH, I have these replies: (1) it makes the game more interesting; and (2) there's something wrong with a low ERA?

Update-update-update: Twiff (scroll down s'more) comes right back at me. OK, I'll freely admit that the AL game is, as a general proposition, tougher on pitchers than the NL version. By the same token, though, it's got to be easier on batters. I haven't seen a comparison of batting averages of players who switch leagues, but I'd be willing to wager that those going American to National see their averages decline more often than not. As anecdotal evidence, I can think of Roberto Alomar, who batted in the high .200s his first three years at San Diego, then, after moving to the AL, batted .300 or better for nine of eleven seasons (the other two he batted .295 and .282), but whose average plummeted to .266 when he returned to the NL in 2001. Then there's Eddie Murray, whose average bounced around the .300 mark over his twelve years in Baltimore, then plunged to .247 his first year with the Dodgers. (He did bounce back and have a career high average of .330 his second year in LA; I guess the sunshine did him good. But the following year he was back down to .260.)

When all is said and done, I guess it comes down to whether you prefer a game with lots of hitting and scoring or one with lots of subtleties and strategy. I'm in that camp that enjoys "little ball"; for example, seeing a pitcher lay down a perfect bunt with one out (there are many pitchers who can do it), or seeing a manager having to decide whether to pinch hit for a pitcher who's been throwing well with a tie game in the sixth or seventh. I even enjoy seeing a pitcher surprise everyone by hitting a home run, as Bronson Arroyo, new to the NL, showed he could do twice this year.


  1. Anonymous6:20 PM

    I'll take a pass on cheering for the Cards (Detroit born and raised, tho' I haven't lived there since '84), but I agree with you about the AL. It's entertainment for the masses, not Baseball for the fan.
    I have a friend down here in Ft. Lauderdale (Mets fan from NYC - go figure) who refers to AL play as "Trans-Fatty Baseball. It's not healthy, and has no redeeming qualities." (I've edited for all-ages consumption.)

    I prefer the senior league's style of play (small ball), and would likely watch an NL game before a Tiger's game during the regular season...

    ...not that I have to make that decision this World Series.

    JMB (from the Fray)

  2. Anonymous11:59 AM

    the DH rule vs. strategy.

    i'm sorry, really i am. but i'm on the AL side of this.

    i really, for the life of me, cannot figure out why having to implement strategies to overcome the fact that one of your nine batters can't hit somehow makes the game more enjoyable.

    there's a reason that AL pitchers drop about a run or so off their ERA when they go to the NL.

  3. Anonymous4:27 PM

    you call trying to watch pitchers hit interesting? sure, there is the anticipation of "will he screw up a bunt?"

    let's see, did i say it was a bad thing? no. certainly not for the pitchers. i said there was a reason. do you think they suddenly get better when they go to the NL?

    consider the rocket: in 2000 he went 13 and 8 for the yanks, with a 3.70 ERA. in 2005 he also went 13 and 8 for houston. with a 1.87 ERA. no one with a 1.87 ERA should lose 8 games.

    consider the case of bronson arroyo. in the AL, he's a 4-5 starter. in the NL, practically an ace.

    consider beckett: went from a 3.38 ERA in the NL to a 5.01 ERA in the AL.

    that, sir, is telling.

  4. Anonymous5:26 PM

    addendum: i grew up completely post-dh rule and as a sox fan.

    i wonder if this affects my thinking (well, being a sox fan does, but besides that).

  5. Anonymous7:19 PM

    "twiffer said: you call trying to watch pitchers hit interesting?..."

    Not so much wathing 'pitchers hit', as watching what happens during their at-bat.

    Do we let him swing away to put the ball in play, or sacrifice, or bunt, or pull him (which necessitates a pitching change, or...

    There's the strategy involved.

    Maybe the fact that you are a 'post DH rule' fan plays a part.
    I had to watch a pot-bellied Micky Lolich bat during the '68 WS - not a pretty sight - but we won.

    That kind of thing sits with you for a while.