Mark Madden: Any rule that shortens MLB games is good rule
The National League will not use the DH until at least 2022, according to reports. That’s quite understandable. What’s the hurry? The National and American leagues have illogically differed in this regard since 1973. What’s three more years?
Those three years, of course, will be filled with the merciless kvetching of the baseball media’s grand old guardians of the game. They refuse to die, or shut up.
You can imagine veins popping on their heads when they talk, write or tweet about the DH. Prime examples are ESPN’s Keith Olbermann, MLB Network’s Bob Costas, MLB Network’s Brian Kenny and Pirates announcer Greg Brown.
Each acts as if universal use of the DH would make Abner Doubleday spin in his grave because his invention got so badly bastardized. (If Doubleday does, indeed, maintain view of this mortal coil, he became ashamed of baseball long ago.)
I’m apathetic about the DH because I’m mostly apathetic about baseball. It means another bad hitter in the Pirates lineup, another good hitter in most other teams’. I’d prefer each team use a batting order of all 25 rostered players, like in tee-ball.
But I do like to see the “experts” fight.
These same media wretches won’t vote the steroid guys into the Hall of Fame because they sullied baseball’s integrity, but ignored obvious signs of PED use in 1998 when assorted pharmacists conspired with bat-wielding lab rats to save baseball in the wake of 1994’s strike. Nobility had to wait, but it’s since been brandished like a club.
Imagine if Barry Bonds came back to DH in the National League. You could see heads explode. Bonds’ might merely get bigger (again). Hey, it worked once.
Anti-DH forces decry the elimination of managerial strategy. The bunt and two-for-one switch are minimized.
But when I go to a Pirates game, it’s not to see Clint Hurdle’s, uh, managerial wizardry. (It was hard typing that with a straight face.) I want to see somebody hit a home run. Baseball should be designed for the common fan, not disciples of sabermetrics. (Those nerds, BTW, should lobby for lineups in strict descending order of OPS. That, and only that, would fully harvest metrics. Why doesn’t a bad team try that? Hey, Clint…)
Then again, the Pirates only hit 157 home runs last year, the sixth-lowest total in MLB. Perhaps they should bunt more. (Except analytics say bunting is stupid. Brad Pitt said so in “Moneyball.” That’s how most baseball fans learned analytics: From Brad Pitt.)
I went to one Pirates game last year. Neither manager made a two-for-one switch, so I didn’t go back. No hit-and-runs, either. I nearly rioted. (Does anyone watch MLB to see strategy play out? Are you that geeky? Save that for APBA, or Strat-O-Matic.)
My method of consuming MLB is to watch the last 3-4 innings of a close game on TV, preferably sandwiched by “That ‘70s Show” re-runs. (Part of what made the gang so cool what that they never watched or played baseball.) Even my Reader’s Digest version of baseball becomes numbing if there’s too many pitching changes.
So, turning semi-serious for a second, I’m for anything that shortens games.
Many fans love that baseball has no clock, and games are played at a leisurely pace. I understand, but that’s what doesn’t interest me.
I’m a soccer addict for many reasons, but it’s a major plus that every Premier League game lasts under two hours, and the action is nonstop. In 2018, the average MLB game took over three hours to play. Not enough of that time is spent with the ball in play.
It’s senseless for the two leagues to have any different rules, but what’s decided about the DH doesn’t concern me. But a three-batter minimum for each pitcher, further limiting mound visits and a 20-second pitch clock with the bases empty all strike me as adjustments that can shave time. So I vote yes.
I do hope the National League uses the DH, just to see Brown’s reaction.
Here’s an excerpt from one of Brown’s recent tweets about the universal DH: “Must fight this with all our might…for the good of this great game!”
Bro, it’s a rule in a sport, not the spread of Communism throughout Southeast Asia. (That couldn’t be stopped, either.)
Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM (105.9).
Mark Madden is a freelance writer.