Tagged: American League

The dumbest thing I heard about the DH is . . .

I was listening to a sports radio talk show a week or two ago and I will not mention the radio personality out of disrespect, but he made me laugh and not because he was funny. He said if the National League approved the DH it would create jobs and therefore be a good thing. The funny thing is that I heard the same argument when the DH was first coming into existence.

Huh? Can anyone count?

Neither of the two other talking heads on the talk show challenged his math, so let me explain for those who don’t know. Each American League team, the league with the DH, has a 25-man roster. The National League, without the DH, has 25-man rosters. With or without the DH each team in each league have 25-man rosters. There are no jobs created. If anything, you lose a  pitcher and add a hitter, but that is not a given.

The argument about the National League adopting the DH surfaces every year about this time because football is over, college basketball has yet to get to March Madness, and the NBA is followed by Star People in another galaxy. And since baseball talk is warming up on radio shows, the DH comes up as topics are hard to find.

Another argument that has no merit about the DH is that it does not change strategy. I have heard this argument and I fail to see the logic, primarily because it is inane. It obviously does change how a manager manages a game. An American league manager only has to watch his pitcher and decide when to switch to a reliever. In the National league, there is much more strategy involved as all who follow both leagues know.

And for the record the National League outdrew the American League in 2015 by over 4 million fans. So much for the DH.

A modest proposal for those who want DH in both leagues

I confess at the outset I grew up, or rather grew older, during the years preceding the DH which was invented by Satan. Naturally being old school I prefer National League play, though I am cursed to live in an American League city. Another trick of Beelzebub.

I understand the younger folk prefer the DH because they want more offense and most pitchers can’t hit. However, baseball at its best is a thinking mans game, one for the literate, the intelligentsia.  I read an article years ago in the New York Review of Books about famous writers who were baseball fans. The list was extensive, ranging from Mark Twain to John Updike. Of course they grew up during real baseball. But from Twain to Updike, baseball, with it’s myths and legends, so close to myth in fiction-another long article for another time-baseball has been like a siren luring writers of every generation to the diamond.

It won’t do me any good to bring up the argument that the National League has more strategy, more options, more to think about. If you want offense watch Arena football, the only sport to rival soccer as boring. One has no scoring, or rather it has nil scoring, the other has scoring on every play. Both are dull for the dull witted.

The best thing for you future geezers is to wait until the last of us baby boomers has passed from the scene, then change and ruin the game the way you want. Of course those of us who love real baseball will come and haunt you no end. And there are thousands of us.

However, if it can’t be done and the DH is adopted by the National League, then the best thing to do, is to eliminate the pitcher all together. If  all you want is offense, then set up a 21st century pitching machine that can throw all types of pitching. It can even toss a rosin bag and walk around the mound when the electronic umpire’s calls do not go the robotic pitcher’s way. If the DH is in both leagues what is the need of a pitcher anyway? He has become pointless.

You young folk are just weird.

Guess who made the schedules for major league baseball

Since 2005 a computer creates the schedules for each major league team, but from 1982-2005 a husband and wife team made them out. Their fascinating story is in this short film of 12 and half minutes. I think the Stephensons did a better job. http://m.espn.go.com/general/video?vid=9897968&src=desktop

Forget the myth, Earl Weaver’s Orioles bunted more than you think

I am writing about Earl Weaver and his early 1970’s Oriole teams rather than the Mariners because the M’s came into the Angels series in 3rd place, but lost three of four, putting the Angels a game and half ahead of the Mariners. Writing something positive about these guys sounds phony, and writing something negative is retelling the same story over and over. Thus we have the Baltimore Orioles of the early 70’s

It does not take long when discussing Earl Weaver for someone to state Earl hated the bunt and loved the three run homer. It is Weaver’s signature stamp,  a line used so often it is believed without anyone doubting. Weaver may have said he hated the bunt, but taking a closer look at the record tells something different.

Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer

Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

Weaver took the helm of the Orioles during the 1968 season. His teams from 1969-1971 made 223 sacrifice bunts. That is the 4th highest total in the American League with California and Oakland tied for second with 227. The Leader was the Pilots/Brewers who made 294 bunts. Looks like in Earl’s early managerial career, he bunted.

However, at the end of the forgettable 70’s Weavers teams over three years from 1978-1980 bunted only 125 times, the fewest in the American League.

So why the change?  The game changed and Weaver with it. In the 69-71 years pitchers still batted, so one could infer that was the reason, but taking away pitchers sacrifices from 1969-71 they still finished 6th. So he didn’t hate the bunt that much. But in the years, 78-80, the Designated Hitter was in full force and Earl began looking for the three run homer. Not much point bunting with a 9th place hitter over a pitcher.

The facts speak for themselves. This story illustrates how mythology overcomes truth, of how a legend is created. And while Earl no doubt helped in the creation because of the latter years when he did forgo the bunt, the real truth is that when baseball changed the rules, Earl changed his philosophy.   

A modest proposal to end baseball’s drug problem

The steroid era in baseball evolved into the HGH era, and now into the Peds era. Whats next, New Zealand deer antlers? The debate on performance enhancing drugs, its effect on baseball’s cherished record book, and who deserves the Hall of Fame is nearing critical mass. But there is a solution.

List of Major League Baseball players suspende...

List of Major League Baseball players suspended for performance-enhancing drugs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Consider the other ongoing baseball debate, one that has lasted decades, that being the DH. The American League has it, the National league doesn’t. Two leagues, two styles of play. I think you know where I am going. Yes, two leagues, one for players who use performance enhancing drugs; and one for clean, natural players, those that don’t lie to Congress, those that don’t deny, deny, deny, then hold a press conference and say I am sorry.

It is the best way to solve the debate. Two leagues, no interleague play, other than the much anticipated World Series. Fans who find nothing wrong with enhancement can have their league and those who like the natural play can enjoy their league. Of course, should a clean player get caught, he goes on waivers to the other league. A druggie, however, can not get cleaned up and request to play in the natural league. He can not be trusted, and like Lindsay Lohan, is a high risk to fall off the rehab wagon.

Baseball should be played on the diamond not in the court. This proposal gets baseball back on the field. We do however, have to rename the leagues. One is the HGH League, which stands for Honor Goes to Hell. They can take whatever they want. A player can even go retro for Turn Back the Clock promotion. Instead of HGH, players can take uppers, downers, bennies, greenies, all those old school drugs. Cocaine, Mary Jane, whatever. I miss the good old days, back when testing was testing, no masking.

The other league could be called the Redford League, for he was The Natural, a true hero. I am open to other suggestions. Feel free to offer yours.

Yes or No, should Edgar Martinez be in the Hall of Fame

The answer is yes, because I, like all Mariner fans, love Edgar. I know that is not enough reason for Edgar to be in baseball’s cherished institution, so let us look at some numbers and one important criterion as to why Edgar should be in the Hall.

Edgar played 18 years with Seattle and was selected for seven All-Star games (this is important as you will find out later).

English: Edgar Martínez throws out the ceremon...

English: Edgar Martínez throws out the ceremonial first pitch at a Seattle Mariners game on 6 June 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During his career he won two batting titles, five Silver Slugger awards; as well as twice leading the American League in on-base %, once in runs, doubles twice, and RBI’s once.

If he wasn’t first in a category, he was near the top. He showed remarkable consistency, but there are a few things working against him.

First, he played for Seattle, a bad team for many of those 18 years. Most writers back East are either asleep or in bars when Seattle is playing in the great Pacific Northwest, and they probably can not find Seattle on a map in the first place, and  believe people in Washington and Oregon are still fighting Indian Wars to avenge Custer. Add the fact that Edgar was quiet and unassuming, you can see Edgar was overlooked and taken for granted. He was not flashy, not outspoken, not controversial; he was invisible.

Second, he was a DH, therefore not a complete player, or so the thinking goes. He did play third base early in his career, and played some first base on occasion, but did not distinguish himself in the field, leading third basemen in errors one year with 27.

But-and this is what I was getting to earlier- one of the  ways voters are to look at a candidate is this: was the player in question one of the best at his position during the era in which he played. As I mentioned he made seven All-Star teams as DH, meaning he must have been one of the best DH’s in the American League. And, for better or worse, the DH is a position. Consequently it is a position that needs to be looked at and Edgar was one of the best at DH, many saying he set the standard. In fact, there is an American League award given yearly to the best DH and the award is called the Edgar Martinez Award.

Now if they name an award after you, you must have been special. EdgarMartinez belongs in the Hall of Fame. The defintion of a HOF’er says so, not just me.

Mariners look to the port side while Ryan wins another trophy

Mariner shortstop Brendan Ryan, who won the Fielding Bible award as the best defensive shortstop in baseball, has added the Wilson defensive award for best shortstop in the American League. Mike Trout of the Angels won the Wilson award for best defensive player in the American League. Yet neither could win a Gold Glove. As I wrote earlier the Gold Gloves are a joke.

Now that is out of my system, at least for the moment, the Mariners had a signing that this blogger likes.

Oliver Perez, a starting pitcher who most feel never lived up to his potential and was in Tacoma when the season started, was promoted to the big club and pitched well out of the pen. He was a free agent, but the Mariners resigned him to a one year contract.

In a perfect baseball bullpen, to my mind, it would be nice to have three from the port side and three or four from the right side. Most teams struggle to find a second leftie in the bullpen, but the Mariners have three and they had solid seasons.

Charlie Furbush

Charlie Furbush (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Besides Perez, Charlie Furbush, another former starter, was simply outstanding. In 46.1 innings, he allowed only 28 hits and struck out 53. His ERA was 2.72.  Then there is Lucas Luetge, a Rule 5 draftee out of the Milwaukee Brewers farm system. He had never pitched above A ball yet he made the Mariners opening day roster. In the first 28 at bats vs, lefties he gave up two hits. He started strong, had a bump or two in  the road, but ended up with a 3.98 ERA with four saves. In 40.2 innings he gave up 37 hits and struck out 38. He did walk 24, but overall a strong season.The Big Mariner in the crow’s nest can look to the port side and see three strong, tough lefties, who if they can duplicate 2012 in 2013, will provide the perfect balance to an exciting bullpen. It was the Mariners defense led my Ryan, and the Mariners pitching, with a big thank you to the port siders, who helped the M’s win more games than they should have because of the weak offense.

It proves that in baseball all three phases need to be in place. The Mariners have pitching. They have defensive. They just need a new shipment of bats. Then they can escape the cellar.