Thoughts on DH, Joe West
First base Sad as it might be for purists, seam-heads, and team accountants to contemplate, it now seems increasingly clear that the abominable designated hitter will soon be standard throughout the big leagues.
Sad as it might be for purists, seam-heads, and team accountants to contemplate, it now seems increasingly clear that the abominable designated hitter will soon be standard throughout the big leagues.
Last month, baseball adopted a series of All-Star Game changes recommended by its Special Committee for On-Field Matters. One of those adjustments made the DH a permanent all-star fixture, regardless of where that game is played.
When that committee, which includes Phils general partner Dave Montgomery, was formed in December, Braves executive John Schuerholz suggested that its focus would be the DH. In other words, they're likely to decide either to eliminate it or make it uniform in both leagues.
Though panel members direct all inquiries to the commissioner's office, its recent action makes clear that the DH isn't going away.
Five things beyond the DH that baseball would be better off without:
1 Joe West. There are plenty of reasons to do so. The feisty umpire once body-slammed Phils pitcher Dennis Cook. Another time, he ejected two cameramen from Shea Stadium. As his ejection of White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and pitcher Mark Buehrle last week showed yet again, he unnecessarily infuriates players, coaches, and managers. And if that's not enough, he sings country music.
2 Pitch counts. Why do teams sign starters to multimillion-dollar deals if they're rarely going to be allowed to get past the sixth inning? To take this trend to its logical conclusion, we might one day see teams go with nine relievers, one for each inning.
3 High fives. The notion that every player who gets down a sacrifice bunt or advances a runner or scores a run has to exchange high-fives with every last soul in the dugout, from the manager to the batboy, seems absurd and Little Leagueish. Save it for home runs and wins.
4 Rubber room. Pitchers who don't keep in contact with the mound's slab, as per the rule. Watch closely, and you'll see dozens of pitchers - Ted Lilly of the Cubs among them - ignore the rubber, never touch it when they throw. The rules say 60 feet, 6 inches, not 60 feet, 3 inches.
5 Wave goodbye? Fans who sit behind home plate just so they can wave to the folks at home. In the stadium I'll design, any wave will be punished by an electrical jolt. After all, one pain in the butt deserves another.
It's probably too early to start worrying about Ryan Howard's power numbers or wondering whether this year's baseball is mushier than its predecessors, but as of Friday 31 players had more home runs than the Phillies first baseman's eight this year.
That list includes players like Milwaukee's Casey McGehee, Baltimore's Ty Wiggington, the White Sox' Alex Rios, Arizona's Kelly Johnson, Cincinnati's Scott Rolen, and the Angels' Kendry Morales.
Howard has company in his power outage. Among the other sluggers who hadn't yet reached 10 homers were Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Lee, Matt Holliday, and Adrian Gonzalez.
Until this week's Citi Field Catastrophe, it had been nearly 36 years since the Phils were shut out in a three-game series.
In 1974, the Phillies were shut out three straight times in Houston by Larry Dierker, Dave Roberts, and Don "No Hit" Wilson, from Aug. 23 to 25. The loss to Roberts was the most painful as he beat Steve Carlton, 1-0, in a game that lasted only 1 hour and 26 minutes.
In 1969, the Miracle Mets accomplished the feat, too, from Sept. 26 to 28.