As Baltimore continues to get pounded by snow, it gets tougher and tougher to believe that the Baltimore Orioles will have their pitchers and catchers report to Florida later next week. It’s now time to shift our focus back to baseball.
So as the season approaches, it’s time to start wishing the Orioles could change divisions. They will never be able to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox, right? They spend too much money on payroll. They buy all their talent. Maybe we should have been able to move to the NL East when the Expos moved to Washington. Baseball isn’t fair because of the Yankees. These are all statements that O’s fans make on blogs, message boards, and sportstalk radio. And, I’m tired of listening to them. The Orioles have to generate their own success, create their own winning atmosphere, and not rely on everyone else around them to give them the easy way out. I’m tired of waiting for the Orioles to win, just like everyone else.
David Schoenfield, from ESPN.com wrote an interesting piece back on February 1st. It was his idea for division realignment in baseball. His idea always kept the Yankees and Red Sox together, while changing teams from the AL East and West, to the Central, on a yearly basis. I’ve included the link to his full article. Near the end of the article, David stated that the National League has similar issues with teams outspending others, but it hasn’t created the same problem as the American League. So, that got me thinking.
Why has there been more teams reach the World Series in the last 18 years in the NL, than the AL? Why is the AL so dominate in Interleague Games? Why is the AL dominating the All-Star Game? What’s the main difference between the two leagues? Simply two letters…..DH.
Just take a moment and think about it. What is the weakest area of any MLB team? Middle Relief, PERIOD. By having a DH, this area of most American League teams doesn’t get exposed nearly as much as the NL. For example, CC Sabathia is on the mound in the 6th inning. The score is 5 to 4. He gets through it, still trailing by a run. He’s only thrown 79 pitches to this point. To start the bottom of the 6th, Posada walks and Cano strikes out. The Yankees have a decision to make, because in the on deck circle is Sabathia. Down by a run, the tying runner on 1st with one out. Pinch hit and go to the bullpen? Sacrifice? Joe Girardi has to decide. We all know what the decision is with the DH in play. Sabathia stays in until he is in big trouble, or the Yankees come back to take the lead, and Rivera saves yet another one.
When you can take a player like Matsui, and pay him over 10 million to DH, or Jason Giambi, or David Ortiz, clearly, you will have an advantage. Other than Pat Burrell for the Rays, name another well paid DH, on a small market team? I thought so. They don’t exist. The game is totally different with the DH. If managers in the AL had to make decisions based on their bullpens, and double switches, I absolutely believe the competitive balance would change.
The National League teams are not constructed with a DH in mind. They are thought of as having multi-position players on their 5 man bench. Speed, defense, and pinch hitting abilities are requirements for the National League. Without injuries, or playing guys to “get the ab’s” the benches in the AL are almost irrelevant. So, when Inter-League rolls around, the NL, takes their best pinch hitter on the bench, and he now becomes a DH. Instead of 5-7 ab’s per week, he gets them in 2 games. In Game 1 of the 2008 World Series the Phillies had Chris Coste, a backup catcher as their DH. Why? Because that was what they had. Their team, in order to get to the World Series, didn’t have a DH on it.
Want to beat the Yankees and Red Sox? Hope that when the new CBA gets signed, that the “Special Committee” suggests to the owners to eliminate the DH. The players association won’t like it. But in exchange for not having a salary cap, it might just fly.
This is Step One to solving issues in Major League Baseball. Over the next few days, I will share my own opinions in order to create a balanced and competitive MLB. Thanks for reading and give me your comments!