Who Loves the Designated Hitter Rule?


Useless but fascinating political correlation of the day, via The Duck of Minerva:

[According to researchers Christopher Zorn and Jeff Gill,] baseball fans are far more likely to embrace the designated hitter (DH) if they are Democrats:

Most important, and consistent with our expectations, we find that self-identified Democratic Party members are more likely to support the DH rule than are either independents or Republicans; the odds ratio of 1.90 suggests that, on average, Democrats are 90 percent more likely to support the rule than are independents. This implies (we think) that the values that draw the respondents to the Democrats are linked to those associated with supporting the rule. At the same time, the reverse is not true: Republicans are no more or less likely to support the DH rule than are political independents.

Their explanation for this finding makes intuitive sense.

As Zorn and Gill explain, the DH is arguably the greatest rules change in the history of baseball—and Democrats are more accepting of "socio-political" changes.

More here.

And whaddaya know? Paul Molitor, the only player in baseball's Hall of Fame voted in as a DH (and yeah, yeah, I know he played in the field), gave $307 to liberal interest group America Coming Together in 2004 (sez the FEC).

NEXT: And the Winner, With 1551 Delegates, Is... Chuck Hagel!

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  1. That tears it–I’m now in open warfare against the Democrats. DH–hah!

    How do Libertarians come out on the DH? I bet it’s 100% against.

  2. The designated hitter rule reveals a miserable, collectivist soul that revels in second-handism.

    (Did I nail it?)

  3. Everything comes back to the DH. The terrorists hate us because of the DH. The Constitution started unraveling when the DH was imposed on us. Everything bad in the world is due to the Designated Hitter rule.

    Godforsaken American League.

  4. Pitcher Bobby Livingston went 4-4 for the Reds the other night, including driving in a runner from 2nd on a wonderful bunt. It was an attempted sacrifice, but he beat it out (and for those wondering, the pitcher, catcher and third baseman were all halfway up the line with no one covering home). The advantage of a pitcher who can actually hit is enormous, the DH ruins that.

  5. Fuckfaces love the DH. It’s really that simple. Only fuckfaces.


  7. Did they correct for age?

  8. thehim,

    I think the bigger question is did they adjust for the Yankees effect?

  9. I’d imagine that this has more to do with having many AL teams being in super-democratic towns. NY, Boston, Baltimore, Seattle, LA.

  10. I hadda look it up, but I have to say the DH rule sounds really lame. The criticism that it destroys the symmetry of the game makes sense to me. I don’t really see why libertarians would tend to have a particular opinion on it. Interesting that conservatives don’t seem to care but liberals do.

  11. FFF,

    The Dodgers are in LA. The Angels are in the OC.

  12. I prefer DH to non-DH baseball. I agree with Bill James that the DH does not reduce “strategy”.

  13. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter.

  14. Nick,

    Double switches making keeping a scorecard more fun.

    Anti-DH wins!

  15. Well, I believe in the soul, the cock, the pussy, the small of a woman’s back, the hanging curve ball, high fiber, good scotch, that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft-core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days.

  16. Double switches making keeping a scorecard more fun.

    Sense Im going to be quoting others in this thread anyway:

    Me fail English? That’s unpossible.

  17. That’s bull, and I don’t care what Cecil says. The DH does suck, and it weakens the game in the AL and is the sole reason Earth has not been asked to join the Federation.

    I bet Virginia opposes the DH! Oh, yeah. Drink.

  18. Isn’t the Designated Hitter Rule really about specialization? Specialization is key to the free market economy, and so we should all applaud it.

    Or something.

  19. ProL,


    Not a problem. Have a Salvator in the funky new Sam Adams glassware they sent me for free.

  20. Im blaming the Salvator for all the spelling and grammar problems I am having.

    Probably due to being an engineer though.

  21. Nah, I’m having a Drunken Monkey milkshake.


    There is no humor to be found in supporting the DH.

  22. The DH is a telltale sign of the constructivist impulse underlying socialism in all of its forms.

  23. I will never sleep with a man who supports the DH. In addition, the DH is for ugly, old guys.

  24. ProL,

    My “have a Salvator” should have been “I am having a Salvator”. Thus my mention of grammar problems.

  25. I’d have a tequila-based drink, but the Mexican farmers are burning their agave fields to plant corn. Thanks to ethanol subsidies and the DH.

    Bush owned a DH-wielding team, you know. Coincidence? I think not.

  26. Im a fan of the “Reds” but they dont have a DH. Confusing. Also, Im going to Cincinnati next month to see my favorite player have his number retired. The night is being sponsored by Citgo, which bothers me.

    Oh well, my glass is empty, I think I will have another.

  27. what does the law of comparative advantage tell us?

  28. Since I pay absolutely no attention to baseball, I have no idea what the “designated hitter” rule is. [And have no desire to learn, either, so don’t bother sending a link.]

    However, in other contexts, I can think of several people I’d like to put a “designated hit” on.

  29. The DH is optional, but woe betide the AL manager who would decline the option.

    Also, this is why pitchers should not bat.

  30. This is why they should bat.

  31. I’m a no DH kind of guy myself. The way I figure it, you’re on the field as a team, you bat as a team.

  32. Libertarians should like the fact that each league can make it’s own rules, and they can still can cooperate on interleague games and a united World Series champion.
    Baseball federalism.
    I think baseball would be less interesting if both leagues had the same rule, whatever rule it was.

  33. I think if they’re gonna have it, players who rock at it should be eligible for the Hall of Fame. Frank Thomas, I’m looking at you.

  34. The DH is fine by me. Situational lefthanders and the managers who love them, on the other hand …

  35. federalism was abandoned when the beyond-awful interleague play was instituted.

  36. Well maybe if what we want is home-run-hitting run-scoring excitement plus fantastic-defensive-play all-the-time maybe MLB shoot follow football and have two separate squads.

    You know just as pitchers don’t take batting practice now why should the defense. Let them concentrate on strengthening their throwing arms, honing their pickup and catching skills all without ever having to touch that silly stick of hardwood.

    On the other hand the offense could concentrate on their swings and base-running and stealing without ever having to worry about ever catching a sacrifice fly and throwing to home before the runner who tagged up at third makes it home or turning a double-play after a miraculous recovery after a grounder makes a nasty hop.

    Why, I’ll bet with those modest reforms would increase attendance and save baseball.

    Whadayasay, guys?…Genius, eh?…Come on!

  37. “MLB shoot follow” should read “MLB should follow”

  38. I think y’all are too entrenched in your baseball tradition to see what the *real* Libertarian view on this should be. Tell me, is there a similar rule for pitchers? No? Why not? Because there was never a collectivist rule that says “All players must take turns pitching… because you’re all equally special”. No, pitching, as far as I know, is a fairly Laissez-Faire affair. Shouldn’t it be the same with batting? Always have your best guy available do it. No batting order… just pick the best guy who isn’t already on base (well, then we could argue about the “designated runner rule”). Records would shatter in short order! Isn’t this the free-market way?

    No more temporarily benching your best player because that brilliant out-fielder has to strike out… again. No more childish “everybody gets a turn”.

    Either that, or maybe political ideology doesn’t apply to games. You’re gonna charge me $2000 for *parking* in front of your hotel!?!?

  39. All players must take turns pitching… because you’re all equally special

    Now there’s an interesting proposition. There are always a couple of 20-inning games a year where they end up having to throw one of the position players out on the mound. Maybe they should let fans umpire, too.

  40. On the one hand, I do agree that the DH rule allows pitchers to specialize and eliminate a humiliating and useless AtBat, while simultaneously giving one guy that extra incentive to be a really good hitter, so it’s better for the game.

    On the other hand, I come from an NL town, so the DH rule bites hard.

    I’m so torn.

  41. I’m not surprised at all. People who are willing to redefine marriage as a relationship between a man and a man or a woman and a woman are capable of anything…even ::shudder:: liking the DH.

  42. The biggest jerk in my office is a passionate opponent of the DH. Even though I have no idea what the DH is or why anyone else cares, I have become a passionate advocate of the DH because this guy is so obnoxious. I think this demonstrates a lot about politics in this country.

  43. So democrats are more likely to support a rule that fucks up the game…while everyone else could give a shit.

    yup…that sounds about right.

  44. Jim:

    “The DH is optional, but woe betide the AL manager who would decline the option.

    Also, this is why pitchers should not bat.”

    Your link shows that the top two hitting pitchers play for the World Champions.

    It’s like coed softball, the teams with the better girl players mostly won.

  45. I like that the DH has kept some great hitters in the game longer. I understand why some people don’t like the rule. I kind of like, though, that there is something different between the two leagues. If they got rid of the DH tomorrow, would I cry? No.

  46. I’m a Libertarian and I like the DH rule.

    Then again, I’m a Red Sox fan and we’ve benefited more than a little from the rule.

  47. DH stinks, though I’m a Yankees fan; got ’em on the radio now. But what would you think about abolishing extra points in American, Canadian, and rugby football? http://users.bestweb.net/~robgood/football/try.txt

    “You’re gonna charge me $2000 for *parking* in front of your hotel!?!?”

    Never mind that — parking a thimble in front of your hotel!

  48. highnumber,

    No. Differences alone are no good. Why not introduce a softball? Aluminum bats? Midgets? Bah.

  49. Never met a DH but found myself with a switch hitter one time. Does that count for anything?

  50. I’m not a huge fan of the DH, but I think the proper libertarian perspective is to support MLB’s right to set the rules of their own game, especially those that are designed to better sell their product, like the wild card and inter-league play.

  51. What motivates a person to give $307? Why not $300, or some similar round number?

  52. Makes no difference to me. I like AL and NL ball about the same.

    Since hardcore anti-DH types, in my experience anyway, tend to be maladjusted, windmill-tilting geeks, I figure there’s bound to be lots of them around here. So I would expect a high percentage of anti-DH libertarians, just because.

    Miraculously, despite my own maladjustedness, windmill-tilti-ness, and geekery, I have never considered becoming an anti-DH’er.

  53. Midgets?

    Bill Veeck did it!

  54. Well, I suppose one could argue that Admiral Donitz had the thankless job of surrendering, though the fact remains that all things considered, he got off rather lightly…

    Sorry…I thought you said “designated Hitler”…

  55. I remember a kid calling for “hitter” when we called for positions in a pick up game and everyone laughed at the kid, who it turns out, was way ahead of his time.

  56. The Designated hitter usually means there is also a Designated pitcher, so there are TWO CHANGES really. What a terrible rule to add to a great game.

    Next, they will have SPECIAL TEAMS, an offensive nine and defensive nine, and maybe they will have special teams for clutch situations, like football. Just because you are taken out doesn’t mean you can’t go back in. That’s just silly.

    Let’s rename the leagues, to match political parties. Now and then an independent league could form and mess up the series.

    Where are the female players? They can play so why hasn’t one make it out there?

  57. I remember small college baseball used to have a “courtesy runner” rule allowing a catcher who reached base to be replaced by a pinch runner but remain in the lineup. Is that rule in place at any level of competition now?

  58. First off, I’m not gay, I’m heterosexual. Now, I don’t know about the “courtesy runner” rule for catchers but I’ve um… heard… yeah… that in some places there is still a “courtesy reach-around” rule for catchers.

  59. boston benefitted from the twins choosing not to pay david ortiz the money he wanted/was due through arbitration. not so much the dh rule as the choice of the owners to open purse strings or not. it’s more that the AL benefits from the DH rule batting wise, and then needs better pitching as a result and is willing to pay pitchers more than the NL. so while intraleague play may be competitive, interleague play becomes lopsided as the AL has better hitters, and as a result, better pitchers.

  60. Damn. I can’t believe someone beat me to the punch with a “designated hitler” joke. Although mine was basically that invoking it meant you lost whatever online sports discussion you were having.

  61. I like the designated hitter because I like pitching. And I know that probably doesn’t make any sense at first glance, but what I mean is that when a guy is pitching a great game and it’s late and tight, I don’t want to see the pitcher pulled for a pinch hitter. I want to see him finish the damn game.

    And anybody who argues that NL baseball is somehow brainier or involves more strategy is just plain dim. Still in awe of the mind-boggling complexities of the double-switch, huh?

  62. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter.

    Although I remain on strike against MLB, Warren is correctomundo. Baseball should be played on grass, the pitcher should have to bat.

    Never met a DH but found myself with a switch hitter one time. Does that count for anything?

    There’s a snappy comeback there somewhere, I just can’t quite find it. Got photos?

  63. The American League and the DH are fine, as long as they don’t try to call the game they’re playing “Baseball” – dang, there’s probably a libertarian intellectual property problem in there somewhere.

    Without trying to make a political point, I find the DH makes the game boring. Having that automatic weak spot in the order adds just the right dynamic to the game. And having to deal with more pitching changes causes teams to have to develop a much more sophisticated pitching staff.

    That said, since I live in a National League town in a National League part of the country (the southwest – 5 NL teams and only 2 AL teams) I enjoy that the AL has a Designated Hitter, because it seems to suck most of the inflated egos away from the National League. Sure, we have to put up with Barry Bonds, but compared to having to watch the primadonnas on the Yankees all the time, I’ll take Barry any day.

  64. This is all nonsense. Look. You have the major leagues and you have the minor leagues. The major league plays baseball by baseball rules. The minor leagues really only function to provide players for the major league when they are ready to step up to the bigs. So I have absolutely no problem with adjustments to the rules in the minor leagues to accommodate the fact that they are not really playing baseball at the same level. Designated hitters, aluminum bats, shorter fields, higher mounds, tee-ball, whatever they need to do to make it entertaining is fine. Its just an entertainment.

    But if you want to watch baseball, you watch the major league.

  65. “The American League and the DH are fine, as long as they don’t try to call the game they’re playing `Baseball’.”

    Technically it’s the NL’s game that’s treated as deviant by Official Baseball Rules. The way OBR is written, the DH is the default, with the NL being given a dispensation, right there in OBR, to not use the DH. And although there are other rules for and derivatives of baseball, OBR’s lineage pretty much makes other baseball rules deriviative of it, rather than vice versa. That’s different from other sports, where usually the pro rules are derived from an amateur governing body’s. In baseball it’s the pros who are recognized as the keepers of the tome. The likely ancestor of baseball even changed its name from “base ball” to “rounders”.

    And yes, pgt, courtesy runners are used a lot — in softball.

  66. I take your point, but then why do they let a minor league team play in the World Series? Or are those just exhibition games following the real contest, for the NL pennant?

  67. Reason’s former DC editor on Bonds. Omar Cruz is there on dope too.

    Henderson’s also a wine and blues guy.

  68. Monkey Robbl,
    Yes that is exactly right. The “World Series” is an exhibition series after the Championship is decided in the Major League. I would think that is obvious. After all, half the games are played with minor league rules. Kind of like how the NFL plays that game in Hawaii after the Superbowl. The “World Series” is really entertaining though. I’d like to see them institute tee-ball for a few innings in each World Series exhibition game also. That would be really fun to watch.

  69. Designated Hitter rule is crap. End of story.

  70. Lex clavatoris designati rescindenda est

  71. Pitchers can hit. Atlanta’s various rotations in the 90s usually had at least three guys who could get on base regularly. And, of course, they were probably the best pitching staff ever.

    We hear talk down here of the Rays switching over to the NL–something that probably will happen sooner or later. I’d be thrilled to see the AL and its accursed DH leave but for the fact that I’m a Braves fan first and would find myself supporting the Rays less than I do today.

    The DH is for sinners.

  72. This reminds me… There are three kickers in the NFL HOF (Blanda, Groza and Stenerud), though only one (Stenerud) is enshrined solely for his kicking prowess.

  73. I remember small college baseball used to have a “courtesy runner” rule allowing a catcher who reached base to be replaced by a pinch runner but remain in the lineup. Is that rule in place at any level of competition now?

    Most adult amateur baseball leagues use such a rule. I don’t know of any 28+ league that doesn’t use courtesy runners, though there are various rules that limit it. Most leagues also allow more than 9 batters in the lineup. The idea is to speed up the game and give everyone a chance to play; when you’re paying to play it make a big difference. Economics, you know.

    In fact, pro baseball in the 19th century originally used courtesy runners routinely.

    You Republicans and your fetish for “rules”.


  74. American League teams over .500 play in Massachusetts, New York, Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, California, and Washington. Six Democratic strongholds and one leans-Democrat.

    National League teams at least 20 points over .500 play in New York, Georgia, Wisconsin, Illinois, California, Colorado and Arizona. Three Democratic strongholds, one leans-Democrat, three Republican strongholds. Much more balanced.

  75. That should be “National League teams over .500”

  76. joe,

    DH or no DH?

  77. Put my down as “leans DH,” but I’m fine with either rule.

  78. That’s like “leaning pregnant”.

  79. Think of the DH as “courtesy batters.”

  80. A leaning DH — would that be like Ricky Henderson? (Take away his bat as a counterweight and I thought he’d fall over.)

  81. I thought it said “Who Loves the Designated Hitler Rule”

  82. Republicans. Every couple of years, they designate a new Hitler.

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