Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


The American League does not play baseball

posted by xscot mcknight

It is that time of the year when fans are starting to chat about who will get to the World Series. Who cares?, I ask. Why do you say so?, they ask back. Because the World Series is not, in fact, baseball.
Here is the cold hard fact: baseball was developed over a long time, and the symmetry of pitching finesse and batting challenge has become the center of the game. The end of the line-up is associated with easier outs and is stocked (or at least it used to be) with exceptional fielders who were not as good at hitting. So, the symmetry was maintained: teams had to score from the top and hope to scratch something at the bottom. This kept the games close; it made the game interesting for those who like the cat and mouse game of pitching and hitting. (Which is what the game is about.)
Pitchers made their livelihood on knowing they could get batters 7-9 out.
Then along came the nut-cases like Charlie Finley and Bill Veeck, who were into filling stadiums and wearing wild uniforms and turning a well-balanced game into vaudeville or some Barnum and Bailey circus. So, they came up with the silly idea that pitchers wouldn’t have to bat, that there could be designated hitters (like pastors who only preach, or dads who only make money, or kids who just sit around — you see the analogies are evocative). (They also had designated runners — you could run once for someone without taking that someone out of the game. That was a bust and they abandoned it.)
Well, having designated hitters ended pitchers hitting and that meant pitchers could throw at batters without worrying about getting hit themselves. (Don’t forget this for it was central to the game.) Then we had players who couldn’t field or throw a lick but who could hit, especially if they injected, long bombs even when the situation called for hitting behind a runner. And fans like home runs, just as they like John Grisham novels. (He did write about baseball, I think, but I’ve never read a word of him.)
Then we got Barry Bonds coming up to the plate with armor on so he could stand close enough and pull outside pitches into the water outside the stadium — but he has nothing to do with the American League, so I’m digressing now.
Back to the DH: it ruined the game and made the American League a game of hitters, where pitchers couldn’t take a break on the mound, where runs were too easily gained (scores sometimes sound like football – which would be another digression).
So, what has it become? Hitball. Not baseball.
Here’s what we have to do:
First, stop calling American League baseball. It is Hitball.
Second, don’t go to their games. Especially the Yankee games.
Third, attend only National League games.
Fourth, and most importantly, see the National League Playoff Series as the real and only World Series.
Fifth, read a newspaper in front of your face when the World Series (the exhibition one) begins. Watch only when they are in a National League park, and laugh at the American League pitchers when they try to hit.
I could say more, but this was way more than I planned. Got to go to class.



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Kerry Doyal

posted September 15, 2005 at 10:07 am


yes, you should have gone to class much sooner . . .



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john alan turner

posted September 15, 2005 at 10:31 am


Of all the things you’ve written, this is perhaps the most divinely inspired!
That’s not a comment on the other stuff you’ve written.
When will you rant on the horror and tragedy that is the aluminum bat?



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Scot McKnight

posted September 15, 2005 at 10:34 am


John,
On metal bats.
Here’s a story for you. If you watch the big league games and see a bat that has the shape of a “bat” (the kind that flies) on it, know this: Luke and I were the first Americans to buy that bat (Sam bats). The maker, Sam Holman and Tom something, then asked me why we were using them, to which I wrote a brief on why kids should use wooden bats, and then he posted it on his website — which is no more.
AT that time, maple bats were not legal in the MLB. Now they are. We played no role in that, but it is a fun story for us. Barry Bonds uses a Sam Bat. Best bats made.



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Bryan

posted September 15, 2005 at 10:39 am


Thus it must take a really good pitcher to play in the Premiership (hitball) league.



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Scott M. Collins

posted September 15, 2005 at 10:39 am


Ahhh, bless you! I’ve been reading for a bit over a month and being a big baseball (NL) fan as well as a seminary student, I suppose I am obliged to comment on this great post. The DH is dumb and should be discarded.



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David Doyle

posted September 15, 2005 at 10:56 am


Nah,
The DH allows the best hitters to remain and forces the weaker pitchers into the junior league (NL)!
Celebrating the miracle that is the Red Sox!



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michael bells

posted September 15, 2005 at 11:32 am


Go Jays – the none American, American League team!
How come it is the World Series when Japan doesn’t play!?



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pellucid_2

posted September 15, 2005 at 11:48 am


mate, you should get into cricket, which preserves the “symmetry of pitching (bowling) finesse and batting (erm… batting) challenge”.
although there are now superstar “all-rounders” who can both bat and bowl, this has only added to the game. the most recent ashes series was awesome and notable for the clash of two all-rounders: england’s emerging hero, andrew “freddie” flintoff, and australia’s great champion, shane “warnie” warne.
i could go on, but i think i lost you at ‘cricket’…



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Randy McRoberts

posted September 15, 2005 at 12:47 pm


As a traditionalist, I agree with your sentiment. But as a Red Sox fan, I must say that it’s the same game with a rule tweak, similar to the addition of the 3-point shot in basketball introduced by the ABA in the sixties or so, and now ubiquitous. I would prefer to see the three-pointer done away, and the DH as well.
Now I must hasten to add, I have almost stopped caring about basketball because they don’t play basketball anymore. Not because of the three-pointer, but because the team aspect of the game is no longer.
But my addiction to baseball has been almost unaffected. It’s still a great game and finely balanced, even if I would prefer to nix the DH.



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John Wiers

posted September 15, 2005 at 1:23 pm


Scot,now you’ve gone from preaching to meddling as they say. I’msure that many others feel the same. The White Sox are leading the American League and they are primarily doing it by “small ball” (cf. how they floundered when Scott Podsednik was on the DL) and pitching. The Sox don’t have a batter batting over .300 and yet they had the best record in MLB for most of the season and still have the best record in the AL. I still think the ChiSox will make it to the Series this year. While all of this curse stuff is obviously a bunch of hooey from a Christian perspective, the Sox are overdue and deserve to be there this year. As far as your main argument is concerned, I’d buy it if the NL had a long streak of All Star and World Series victories, but they don’t so I rest my case. Scot, your biblical comments are great, but I thinkg I detect an unrequited Cub fan grumbling in your comments. As a native of the South Suburbs we can pick it out a mile away. Cubs fans somehow seem to forget that they are playing real baseball this year on the South Side.



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dan

posted September 15, 2005 at 1:43 pm


as someone who could never quite figure out this fascinatnion with balls… i just don’t know wat to say…



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Brad Boydston

posted September 15, 2005 at 1:46 pm


Some people will just not make the transition to this post-league era. They’re stuck in the baseball paradigm of the modern era with its emphasis on competition between leagues. What we need is an emerging team movement that is naive enough to assume they can fix all of baseball’s problems by rearranging the stadium — again. Maybe it will work this time — maybe not.
Whatever it ends up looking like I’m happy to kick-back in the nose-bleed section — as long as I don’t have to listen to the clang of aluminum bats.



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dan

posted September 15, 2005 at 2:03 pm


yahooo… brad… as for me i’ll stick to track and field



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Bob Robinson

posted September 15, 2005 at 2:30 pm


I used to have a baseball game on my computer. My team, of course, was the Cleveland Indians (this was back in the era of Lofton-Visquel-Alomar-Thome-Ramirez-etc). However, I set up the league with no DH. It was just too boring to play that way…much more exciting was the strategy of pitchers hitting, the double-switch, etc.
As a (pretend) manager, it was much more challenging and fun.
Okay, now out of my fantasy world and back to reality…



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Scot McKnight

posted September 15, 2005 at 2:46 pm


Ian Botham still playing cricket?



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Scot McKnight

posted September 15, 2005 at 3:20 pm


John,
And the Sox would be even worse if their DH were eliminated and their pitcher would have to bat, and then numbers 7 and 9 would have to learn how to hit.
It is easy to play smallball (really hitball) when everyone is a hitter; much harder when 7-9 have to eak out what the pitcher permits.



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Stacey Littlefield

posted September 15, 2005 at 4:39 pm


Now Brother McKnight, you’ve have gone too far. I will admit that the DH could be discarded and I wouldn’t mind abit, BUT, to say they are not playing baseball, well, in Cleveland they would burn you at the stake!
What can I say? I only fell in love with baseball after moving to Cleveland. The American League Indians taught me to love the game like the good Dr. Fred Holmgren taught me to love the Old Testament! I am smitten and likely will be forever. But, stealing from another post, you can take football away comepletely and I wouldn’t miss it.



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bob smietana

posted September 15, 2005 at 6:54 pm


Scot
Who would you rather see hit–some lightweight pitcher or DH David Ortiz of the Red Sox? I’ll take Ortiz anyday.
Long live the DH!



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Bob Robinson

posted September 15, 2005 at 6:54 pm


Yea Stacey!
Go Tribe!!
I takes a guy in Lyndhurst to know the truth about Cleveland baseball…
…but then again, you do know you are in Browns town, right?
:-)



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pellucid_2

posted September 16, 2005 at 5:44 am


good one! ian “beefy” botham is now a selector for the english team and also has an interesting side line advertising british beef, alongside his former team-mate alan lamb. no prizes for guessing his nickname, or what he advertises.



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Scot McKnight

posted September 16, 2005 at 7:55 am


Great news about Botham. Last I heard he was in trouble with the Feds (do you call them that there?) for smoking mind-altering substances.



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Lukas McKnight

posted September 16, 2005 at 10:18 am


Oh, what fun! I must admit, having played in the styles of both leagues, it is a COMPLETELY different game in the NL compared to the AL. There is zero strategy in the AL, but once you get to the 5th inning of an NL game, it’s a new world. Double switches, getting fielders in the game…you name it. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s not baseball, but it’s a purer game and one the AL ought to imitate.
John Wiers-
How misguided you have become by the media with small ball. The White Sox emergence as a playoff threat has EVERYTHING to do with pitching. A couple of factoids-
-The White Sox have scored the fewest runs in baseball. That is not producing runs and playing “small ball”
-You are LESS likely to score with a run on first and no one out. Bunting has become a thing of the past (w/ men on 1st and the pitcher not up). If you’re playing the statistics, you will not bunt in such situations.
The White Sox are better because they probably have better chemistry, better guys in the clubhouse, and the arm of Jon Garland.



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