What is that Mark Twain said again about lies, damned lies and….
There are three words in the English language that make me react physically:
- Bennies (short for benefits or Eggs Benedict)
- Margs (short for margaritas)
- DH (short for designated hitter)
Here is the worst sentence of all time: We were talking about the bennies at his new job over bennies and a couple of margs at brunch when he mentioned he thought the DH should be universal.
Anthony Castrovince from Sports on Earth is the latest in a trending thread of columnists to trot out the liberty and DH for all argument for off-season clicks.
It goes something like this: Pitchers can’t hit and when they are asked to hit it ends badly. When it ends badly sometimes the hitters around them don’t fare so well either for whatever reason. More than this, pitchers risk getting injured when they are batting. They can get hit by a ball or twist an ankle. I’m sure they could get hit by a ball or twist an ankle on the mound too, but that doesn’t count because they’re pitching. All kids are raised to specialize in one thing so that should translate to pitchers only doing one thing—so I guess that means everyone should throw a single pitch?
Therefore DH should be instituted in both leagues.
Castrovince does what writers are wont to do in the annoying era of Nate Silver. He pads the above argument with, yep, statistics. Granted, statistics are OK if you are building a bridge or a bomb—or are taking a statistics course.
In other words, statistics aren’t a bad thing, until they become the only thing.
To me, it doesn’t make sense to put up Christmas lights. It takes a long time (approximately 4.52 hours for the rain gutters ones outside and another 1.83 for the tree inside). It takes just under half that time to take the lights down and store them. All told, that’s the better part of a weekend for something that’s temporary and can cause harm (climbing ladders, standing on a roof, dealing with sharp pine needles). Statistically, those lights cause 14 percent of all house fires and pump up the electricity bill by more than 40 percent in the month of December for Americans.
The average American consumes 18 pounds of bacon a year. Each ounce of bacon contains 30 milligrams of fat. Even occasional bacon eaters run a higher risk of developing heart disease and/or having a stroke at a frequency of three times that of the rest of the population. Bacon eaters also run a much higher risk of getting cancer. Bacon eaters die earlier and also more likely to indulge in bad lifestyle choices, like smoking, drinking alcohol in excess, not eating fruits or vegetables and visiting porn sites with paywalls.
One in four drivers will get pulled over by a police officer this year. More than 80 percent of those drivers will get a moving violation when pulled over. One in three violations will be substance-related. Most drunk drivers drive impaired more than 80 times before their first arrest. Up to 75 percent of drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license after conviction. A person is injured in a car crash involving alcohol or texting while driving every minute. On average, two in three people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in a lifetime. More than 95 percent of drivers will be involved in a car crash in a lifetime.
Americans in a new job can expect to be there less than a year and a half. During that time, the chances of promotion are less than 20 percent. The chance of saving more than $1,000 in that time are less than one in five for the average American. The chances of an action being taken against you for sexual harassment on the job are three percent if you’re an adult male between the ages of 25 and 40. The chances of getting fired are one in three and the chances of being able to replace that job with a higher paying one less than 90 days after you dismissal are one in 12. The chances of not finding another job within 18 months of leaving the previous place of employment are one in in four.
Having sex with a partner can be harmful. There is a greater than 50 percent chance the partner will be carrying some kind of social disease and a twenty percent chance they don’t know about it. In heterosexual intercourse, there is a five percent chance of the woman getting pregnant within the first two months of regular sexual activity. There is an 89 percent chance that a new sexual partner in America today will not last more than 90 days which means, along with that social disease, statistically one—if not both parties—are subject to heartbreak.
Statistically, we should stop having sex.
But here’s the thing, like all the stuff that makes the long shuffle down this narrow hallway worth enduring, baseball doesn’t make a whole lot of sense on paper.
Sure, it’s a sport—perhaps more than any other—dominated by numbers, and manipulated by numbers. But in a way, sabermetrics all go away once a ball is in play. Baseball, like life, is unpredictable in spots and drags in spots and then speeds up way too fast in spots. Then it goes on and on when all of a sudden it’s over and everyone wants to know what happened. Sometimes you’re the hero, and sometimes you fucked it all up. Sometimes you’re benched and sometimes you’re the first one running out onto that grass. There are bad guys throwing as hard as they can at your head and other guys distracting you so you swing and miss. The crowd loves you one day and boos you the next. There’s chewin’ and spittin’ and pullin’ and tuggin’ and huggin’ and high-fivin’. There’s long road trips and strange cities to visit. There’s a cute girl in the third row you’ll never meet and a grizzly old boss whose day is dimmer just because of your mere presence.
Baseball endures as the greatest metaphor for life ever invented. There’s nobody to stand in and do your dirty work for you. When that ball’s hit your way, you best get on your fast horse and catch it. When you accidentally miss the cut off, you point to yourself, nod and ask forgiveness. And you better believe that when it’s time to dig in and stare down the pipe of something coming your way at 90-plus, it’s only you who has the chance to deliver.
They’re all counting on it.
The drippy allegory isn’t the reason I don’t want pitchers hitting to go away. I like to watch what happens when they do. What’s better than Kershaw appearing on the on-deck circle in the bottom of the eighth with no men on and two out after already throwing 130 pitches? What’s better than Madbum hitting a go-ahead jack in the bottom of the seventh? What’s better than Scherzer botching a bunt sign to deliver a free-swinging RBI? Or Colon legging out a double?
Nothing. Nothing is better.
Besides, I like that the leagues are different. I like participating in the argument. I like exploring the DH/non-DH differences with friends and strangers when socially lubricated on a patio while the early March Scottsdale sun filters through a flat pitcher of Coors Light. I like that people grew up either AL or NL and stand firm on the DH as if was written in the family Bible. I like how pitchers hitting vs. the DH is really the only discernible advantage/disadvantage for home field in the World Series, besides, you know, fans with towels.
It’s a part of history we’ve held on to. In the past decade and change, statistics have turned us into a spoonfed/marketed-to/homogeneous country of bitches gazing toward the sidewalk for answers. This is how you dress. This is what you drive. This is your phone. These are the issues. This is the movie to watch. This is what everyone’s furniture looks like. This is pretty. This is ugly. This is supportive. This is mean. This is your happy family photo to post. This is you on your vacation. This is your food. These are your friends.
Pitchers hitting and the unpredictability of it all—it’s one thing that perseveres.
Because I like Christmas lights and bacon and driving and working and sex. And I like watching pitchers hit.
…And I don’t need no statistic to tell me why.