Dan Roche

The case for why National League should have adopted the DH earlier

The case for why National League should have adopted the DH earlier

It looks as though MLB owners and the players' union are inching toward an agreement to play a truncated 2020 season. That's the good news. But there's even better news. 

As part of this agreement, MLB will adopt a universal designated hitter for 2020 and 2021, a move that is expected to become permanent. And a move that's a long, long time overdue. 

Since its adoption prior to the 1973 season, the designated hitter has been in play only in American League games, or in interleague games played in an AL stadium. It hasn't been voted upon for the NL to adopt the DH since 1980 when it was voted down (the Phillies abstained from voting).

The universal DH hits on a number of levels. Most notably, it will organically lead to more offense. Just about every baseball fan likes to see more runs and hits. Replacing a pitcher in the lineup with a position player makes the whole lineup much more potent. 

Quick quiz for every fan who bought a ticket for a game played in a National League stadium: At what point did you think to yourself, "Man, I can't wait to see the pitcher bat!" Go ahead, I've got all day. 

Pitchers batting in a National League game offer a free out two or three times a game. Last season, NL pitchers combined to hit .131. If there was a position player who hit .131, he wouldn't be in the lineup. 

Not having pitchers in the lineup will also allow them to stay in a game longer, without managers having to account for a pinch-hitting situation. How many times have you watched a manager pull a starting pitcher from a game in which he's cruising, only because his spot was coming up in the order?

The move also opens up more options as the game gets into the later innings. Because the manager didn't have to burn that position player to bat for a pitcher earlier in the game, that player is available in a potential high-leverage situation later in the game.

Purists prefer to play the game without the DH because that's how the game was "meant to be played." I can point to myriad changes made to baseball to improve offense. Did you know the pitcher's mound used to be 45 feet from home plate? And that along with adding the DH following the 1968 season, both leagues lowered the mound from 15 inches to 10 inches?

It's time to treat National League fans to something AL fans know all too well. 

More runs means more fun.

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MLB owners are to blame if baseball doesn't happen in 2020

MLB owners are to blame if baseball doesn't happen in 2020

It should have been here already. 

While the NBA and NHL owners and players have agreed to resume their seasons in one form or another, baseball remains at an impasse between the players' union and league owners.

There is venom spewing from both sides of this coming from fans, and rightfully so. They miss baseball. They'll take it any way they can get it. The players want to play. They have already agreed to a prorated salary structure back in March. But the more recent offers from owners are asking them to play for a fraction of that proration, and the players aren't having it.

The proposal from owners Monday wasn't exactly met with open arms and players were vocal on social media. It seems as though owners are making the same offer, time and time again, just in different wrapping paper. This latest submission reportedly even includes a requirement for players to sign a waiver so that they wouldn't be able to take legal action against their employers if they were to contract the coronavirus on the job.

The owners' argument is that every game played without fans in the stands is lost revenue. Phillies managing partner John Middleton wrote in a letter to employees that about 40% of total team revenue comes from fan attendance. That's a big piece of the pie. 

But that's not to say there will be no incoming revenue. Many teams have lucrative local television deals, more than half have ownership stakes in the regional sports networks that carry rights to their games, including the Phillies.

If Middleton's 40% figure is uniform across the league, how can owners ask players to take a pay cut of 65% or more? How will players possibly make that money back? Baseball careers are a finite amount of years, unlike an ownership stake, which carries on ad infinitum, and grows at almost a geometric rate.

According to Forbes, the average value of an MLB franchise in 2020 is $1.85 billion, a 20% increase from just three years ago. Owners don't have to deal with ACLs, Tommy John surgeries, 10-game road trips, or playing during a global pandemic. Their money makes money, and that money makes even more money.

If a team has a great season, and breaks attendance records, and sells ridiculous amounts of merchandise, do the players get a cut of that windfall? Of course not. They get paid what they agreed to in their contracts, and not a dime more. Owners should pay the players what they agreed to back in March, and not a dime less.

Buying a piece of a pro sports franchise is an investment. Often, it's a very profitable investment. But sometimes investments take a loss. Anyone who currently has a 401K can certainly attest to that right now. 

Maybe, just this once, MLB owners can take this loss. A good-faith move that would get the sport back on the field. One financial hit over a few years that would build a great deal of goodwill with their most valued commodities — the players and fans. It would amount to a drop in the bucket over the long haul.

Heck, it's probably a tax write-off.

The alternative — a canceled season — could lead to a far greater long-term loss. In 1994, the season ended in August due to a players' strike, and the postseason was canceled. The following season, league-wide attendance dropped 20 percent. 

Here's hoping they realize what's at stake before time runs out.

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Former Flyers share their favorite all-time teammates

Former Flyers share their favorite all-time teammates

As my family has spent a great deal of time together at home the last few months, I found myself repeating the same thing (as parents often do) to my children, ages 9 and 11: Help out when you can, be a good teammate.

That led me down the path to ask a handful of former Flyers players this question: Who was your favorite teammate when you played in the NHL?

Chris Therien (Flyers defenseman, 1994-04, 2005-06)

"That's a good question and there was a lot of great ones. I roomed with John LeClair and played with a lot of really, really high-caliber guys that were high-caliber people, as well.

"I'm going to say, at the end of the day, Luke Richardson was the best teammate on the ice and probably the best teammate off the ice, as well. He had great leadership qualities. He knew team bonding. You understood the long season that guys deal with. He helped me keep the room light a lot of the time. Just an absolutely sensational human being.

"Easily a person I will never forget until the day I die because of those great qualities that he possessed as a friend, a teammate and a leader."

Rick Tocchet (Flyers right winger, 1984-92, 2000-02)

"Craig Berube is definitely one for me. Whether he played two minutes or 15 minutes, he always thought of the team. A very unselfish player and was an excellent leader even though sometimes he didn’t play a lot in some games. Kept the room loose and serious at the same time."

Brian Boucher (Flyers goalie, 1999-02, 2009-11, 2013)

Phantoms, 1997-98:


Neil Little

"The greatest guy I played with! This guy was always willing to lend a hand, advice, share a story and laugh. He was my first goalie partner in pro hockey and he set the bar incredibly high. To this day, he’s still helping me. He was responsible for getting me back to Philly from San Jose and also helped land a spot for my son Tyler to live in Plymouth, Michigan, by setting him up with his childhood buddy Chris Osgood while he’s playing for the U.S. national team development program. He’s the best!

"

Flyers, 1999-00
:

Mark Recchi

"As a rookie that year, Rex always made me feel welcome to dinners, golf and whatever else was going on. He always was generous too!

"

Rick Tocchet  

"Late addition to the team but had instant respect the minute we got him. He too like Rex always included me and made me feel like I had been a teammate for years. Extreme work ethic and showed me as a young guy how hard you have to work to be a pro.

"

Keith Jones

"Same as the other two guys. He was great to me. He always had a line for me the minute Beezer (former Flyers goalie John Vanbiesbrouck) gave up a goal. He’d say, 'Start stretching, kid!' He’s always been there for me. Even up to this day! Love Jonesy!

"

Later years:

Jody Shelley

"Played with Jody in Columbus, San Jose and Philly. Team guy! Great friend. Spent lots of time with him doing extra practice because we weren’t playing much."



Joe Thornton

"Never met a guy who loves being at the rink and being with the guys as much as Jumbo. He rarely had a bad day. Played with him in San Jose.
"

Bill Clement (Flyers center, 1971-75)

"Bernie Parent: He was never in a bad mood. All he did was smile and laugh and keep us loose. No matter how difficult certain situations seemed, he was the messenger that let me know life would go on and be better than it was yesterday. Maybe it was because he knew he could single-handedly control outcomes on the ice."

Keith Jones (Flyers right winger, 1998-00)

Craig Berube. Protected my [butt] on a game-to-game basis!”

Anything else made him a great teammate?

“Nothing!”

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