3 hours ago
"Orlando Cepeda has been with 5 different ball clubs in the past 7 years. That in itself should tell him something. Now he's with the Boston Red Sox and because of a gimpy knee, there's only so much he can do for them. They're thinking of him primarily as a designated hitter."
--The Dispatch, March 9, 1973
"I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter."
Me too, Crash. Me too.
I know, it is sacrilege, going against my own kind. I’m an AL-er, through and through. In fact, I scoff at the NL. I think they’re like the frumpy chick who everyone gives leniency to because she’s cool and chill and has got a great personality. Not impressive, because when you think about it, what are her options? It's pretty much all she has to go on.
She’s the pitcher who has season after season of stellar numbers…pitching in the NL. Impressive when you look at it in a vacuum, less than admirable in the context of the landscape.
HOWEVAH, the DH drives me bananas.
I was talking to my mom last night, and any conversation I have with her about sports is always entertaining, because she’ll either randomly trot out obscure statistics and analysis that makes me think she’s secretly Steve Hartman and just diluting her scope of sports knowledge so as to not embarrass me and my dad…and then other times she’ll say things like, “According to the Daily News, the worst athletes of the decade are—no surprise here—Steven Marlboro and Carlos Pavone.”
Last night, the topic was Nate Kaeding.
“According to your father, he’s the best kicker in the league! How does he miss 3 field goals!”
“Well, I don’t know about the best…”
“Kristen. He has one job. He doesn’t get tackled. He doesn’t have the throw or run or catch. All he does for a living is kick. I mean, it’s not like he has anything else to work on at practice.”
I’m with my mom on this one. And it’s another reason I find baseball to be the paragon of athletic competition. You can’t beat out the clock, and you don’t have “special teams.” You can’t BS your way through baseball, because your weaknesses will be exposed and preyed on.
My dad used to teach and impart some inside info to the minds of professors, “You’re not fooling anyone when you get an essay question that you don’t know the answer to, so you just write everything you know about that subject and try to bury your ignorance in words and irrelevant facts.”
But the DH lets baseball players do that.
Thirty-seven years ago, Orlando Cepeda was signed to the Sux as the first ever player specifically acquired for this “role.” David Ortiz’s forefather, so to speak. The original “I’m pretty much useless on the field, but that won’t stop me from playing!” athlete. The original, “Yeah, I deserve MVP, what of it?” philosopher.
(Yeah, remember that? A few years ago, I almost went into apoplectic fits because Ortiz publicly went on record vehemently whining about how Jeter was going to steal MVP from him…)
And so Ortiz, in his own inimitable way, so joins the ranks of the other Red Sox whose frustrations translated into another New York sound byte: “Who’s your daddy?” Countless Schilling barking. And now, the stymieing diatribe that makes me picture Ortiz hanging out by the lockers with the periphery high-schoolers, the ones that watch the in-crowd with even mixture of envy, hatred, frustration, and self-pity.
Bottom line: the MVP consistently brings more to the table than any other player. Ortiz is frightening, unnerving, and stunningly powerful–about once every 1.5 innings. His contributions, while mighty, are categorically limited and therefore can only be so valuable.
I mean, am I going to knock Hideki or what the DH allowed us to do in the WS? Of course not. If we’re going to have one, then might as well take advantage of it. But as a rule, I’m not a fan.
And like most terrible things in sports, like most insidious tumors that taint the game, destroy souls, and threaten the integrity of humanity and the free world...we can thank Boston for this.
I’d be remiss in not noting that actually the first designated hitter was Ron Bloomberg. So the argument, of course, can be broached that perhaps the Yankees are actually to blame for this trend.
Nah, it's different. Consider this case study: the marketing of Heroin...
Like aspirin, the drug that Bayer launched under the trademark Heroin in 1898 was not an original discovery. Diacetylmorphine, a white, odourless, bitter, crystalline powder deriving from morphine, had been invented in 1874 by an English chemist, C R Wright.
But Dreser was the first to see its commercial potential. Scientists had been looking for some time for a non-addictive substitute for morphine, then widely used as a painkiller and in the treatment of respiratory diseases. If diacetylmorphine could be shown to be such a product, Bayer - and Dreser - would hit the jackpot.
The Yankees may have done it first, but the Red Sox are responsible for capitalizing on its commercial potential.
And here we are today.
It’s hard to admire a league that houses the New York Mets, but I do applaud their willingness to force players to keep their games up. (It actually makes it even more difficult to wrap my head around the fact that AL-turned-Mets pitchers manage to all consistently decline upon moving to Queens. Oh, Mutts!)
On the one hand, if it were not for the no-DH in the NL, Chien Meng Wang and his 20-win seasons would be rounding out our lineup as a THIRD starter. On the other hand, if not for the no-DH in the NL, I wouldn't have gotten to see Mariano Rivera get an RBI.
Bigger picture, men. Bigger picture.
Then again, perhaps I am a little punchy these days in the absence of baseball, and the stinging lack of Giants football. I know Bill Simmons has purported many a time that fans lose their right to complain about failed seasons within a 5-year window of a championship.
But this is completely, utterly absurd. What the hell does that even mean? I can’t get fired up about my teams for 5 years after they win a title? Is that like some kind of punishment? It’s like all the Mets fans who reasoned that NYY fans had no right to get excited about the WS, because we just had one in 2000. It’s quite remarkable how opposed we are to communism when it comes to society, but when it comes to sports, the spread-the-wealth tenets are all rage.
That said, I’m still exercising my right to disappointment in the G-men, despite the WS title. As Gil Bernard knows, real fans always care.
Other notes from the weekend:
- MVP today goes to my buddy Spanish, who gave me my first non-Yankee jersey…CYC meets the European sports scene. In terms of fantastic marrying of powers, an even cooler hybrid than the European drinking scene meeting the Bronx.
- The Jets’ D is legit. (Of course, now that I’ve said that, they will get annihilated against Indy next week.) But I’ve been discounting them all season, and have been basically of the mindset that they’re just stumbling into the playoffs and are playing with house money. The last time I felt this EXACT same feeling was in January 2008, as we watched the Giants systematically march through the playoffs on the road. Good luck, Green. I mean that.
- It’d be nice if the exciting games weren’t reserved for Sunday night, it’s hard to justify enthusiastically getting involved in daytime drinking with a 35-3 routing as the backdrop.
- Lastly, 29 DAYS TIL PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT TO CAMP!
ONE MONTH FROM TODAY. Long is the way and hard, that out of the off-season leads up to P&C Day.
Two years ago, me and the NYSJ went out to John’s Pizza to celebrate Pitchers & Catchers Day. Afterwards, I went out to my favorite bar, where all patrons looked like varying degrees of drunk human doilies and teddy bears. The manager said to me, “You wore a Mariano Rivera jersey to a Valentine’s Day party?”
“It’s not Valentine’s Day, it’s Pitchers & Catchers Day.”
“Wow. You really are in your own world up there, huh.”
Well, in my defense, maybe whatever "wrong planet" I'm on, one in which my parents seem to unequivocally believe I exist, is improvement. For one thing, there is no DH there.
"In the beginning the universe was created. This made a lot of people angry and has widely been considered as a bad move." -Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy