Baseball’s Perfect Imperfection

I’m embarrassingly non-controversial.

Well, when it comes to baseball anyway. There are no dust-ups here, my opinions are welcoming of all other baseball opinions. I don’t like to argue.

Sure, I have controversial opinions about other stuff.  And, I’m sure you’ll agree I’m right about all of them.

Hash Browns vs. Home Fries.

By Marshall Astor, via Creative Commons 2.0

Home Fries.

Sylvester vs. Tweety.

Sylvester. Please, Tweety sucks.

Serial Comma vs. the Dangerous Anarchy of Punctuation Without The Sanity of the Serial Comma.

Serial Comma, Serial Comma, and Serial Comma.


Katy Perry vs. Taylor Swift.

Good grief, this is so last year. (But, since you asked: Team Katy.)

Katy Perry Spends Fathers Day with her dad at a Dodgers game.

Working Out vs. Writing About Controversial Things.


OK, so maybe I have a pot-stirring annoyance with the Washington Nationals (even though they currently sport three – three! – University of Virginia players … every single one of them in the University of Virginia Baseball Hall of Fame.)


Or, as ESPN reported last night (I’m paraphrasing here): “If it weren’t for the Braves and the Phillies, the Nationals would be running away with their division.”

I wish I had said that. (I know. I sorta just did.)

(Dear Nationals Fans, Simmer down. You’re already grumbling about your team and it’s not even July. You’ll be rooting for the Dodgers in October and you know it.)

But, I’m not anti-Nationals. I’m just annoyed that I lived in DC in those empty no-team years, which is how I ended up permanently tied to the woeful – but no longer terrible – Baltimore Orioles.

(Dear Kansas City Royals Fans, I like you guys and I still remember that impressive sea of blue that turned out for your World Series parade in 2014, after sweeping the AL East champion Orioles out of the post-season, knocking them out of the playoffs on the day that I, unrelatedly, fell down a flight of cement steps and scrambled my back like a misplayed game of Jenga, and am still dealing with the aftermath so that every time my back twinges, I think of cement steps and losing to the Royals, but time heals all wounds, except for the memories of the Royals sweeping and that still lingering twinge in my back thing, but all that aside, with the O’s win yesterday and the Royals loss, the O’s no longer have the worst record in baseball and the Royals now do, and that makes me happy sad, because as I said 150 words ago, I really like you Royals fans.)


As of June 23, 2018 — Baltimore Orioles win percentage: .307. Kansas City Royals: .303.


Yes, the Baltimore Orioles won yesterday.

(They won on Friday night, too, making this a two-game win streak.)

But, this is not about that. Except for this.

The Orioles played the Atlanta Braves – in Atlanta – which meant that, with no Designated Hitter, the Orioles pitchers batted.

Yesterday, Dylan Bundy, the starting pitcher for the Orioles (who won yesterday … still fun to say), batted and singled – his first major league hit.


Whenever an American League team is forced to play under National League rules – or versey-visa – someone grumbles that it’s time to either a) get rid of the AL Designated Hitter rule, or b) add the DH rule to National League games.

I’ve thought about this. A lot. Way too much.

But, now that all the thinking is done, I’m confident I have the right answer.

Baseball has a lot of work to do to clean up its messes – enforcing drug rules, ensuring parity for smaller markets, fair wages for minor leaguers, dwindling audiences, making sure that stupid “put a man on second in extra innings” experiment never makes it to the big leagues. Real messes. But, by golly, the DH/No DH is not one of them.

Let the National League and American League have different rules.

Congratulations, baseball. You’re right.

Baseball’s dual rules is perfect for a game that has thrived for more than a century with perfect imperfection.

Baseball allows every park to have its own outfield dimensions. Green Monsters, nooks and crannies, even sloping outfields. All fine.

Players can steal bases.

Infielders can shift and play wherever they want.

Pitchers can pitch wherever they want.

(Dear Nationals fans, Hi.)

Anyway, let’s not belabor the point. The ability to compromise, when appropriate, is one of the beautiful gifts of being human. (Along with opposable thumbs and the ability to recognize the superiority of home fries over hash browns.)

Who says we can’t live together in harmony with two different rules?

Allowing both the DH and No DH rules to stand in baseball is perfect imperfection.

Edgar Martinez, greatest DH of all time, deserves to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. (What the hell are you people waiting for?)


(Dear Orioles fans, Look … it’s unhappy Yankees manager Buck Showalter pulling a pitcher. You recognize that look of resigned disappointment.)

And, yes, it’s delightful to watch pitchers bat, too. Here’s Reds pitcher Anthony DeSclafani hitting his first home run in a game against the Cubs yesterday. It was a grand slam.

So, what’s the problem? Why not have both rules?

You can argue with me about how wonderful the DH rule is, protecting pitchers and giving aging batters a few extra seasons.

And, yes, you’re right.

You can argue with me about how important it is that pitchers bat to preserve the integrity of baseball strategy and the integrity of pitchers being all-around players.

Hey, you’re right, too.

There. I’m glad we’ve settled that.

And, here’s something else we all can agree on …

This is pretty awesome.

(Dear Nationals fans, I knew you were still reading. Hi.)



19 thoughts on “Baseball’s Perfect Imperfection

  1. Players can steal bases. What comparison are you making? Aside from that question, viva la difference! Pepe Le Pew quoting a distinguished colleague.

    • Stealing is rule breaking, a violation of the Ten Commandments … so rule-breaking of the highest order. Yet, baseball has a rule that specifically allows rule-breaking stealing of bases. That sort of out-of-the-box thinking is a baseball tradition. The rule allowing players to steal bases … another example of baseball’s perfect imperfection! :)

  2. Right with you on Sylvester vs. Tweety. Home fries yeah, except with an omelet. You can’t drape your omelet nicely across the top of those big chunks of potato like you can a classic bed of hash browns. And I wouldn’t dare get involved in the Katy/Taylor debate.

    As for the DH, I’m all for keeping it as-is. With one exception: I forget who suggested it–it may have been Bruce Bochy–but whoever it was thinks when there’s an interleague game, they should use the rules of the *visiting* team. Give the fans in the AL cities a chance to see their pitchers hitting in their home parks. And give the NL fans the opportunity to check out a real DH occasionally.

    I’m not sure I’d want to see that in the World Series–though I’m willing to be convinced–but during the regular season? Heck, yeah!

    • OMG. That Bruce Bochy or “whoever it was” is a genius … I love it! To have AL rules in NL parks (and backy-forwards) doubles down on perfect imperfection. And, that is sheer awesomeness. Since you’re not sure who thought it up first … I’m giving it to you, Casey. You’re my Baseball King for the Day!

      • Much as I appreciate the nomination, I refuse to take credit for someone else’s work. There’s a nasty name for that in the writing world…

        Besides, I found the reference. It wasn’t Bruce, it was Bob Melvin. (I hope that link works.)

        Trust an ex-catcher to come up with a genius idea like that.

  3. Home fries for sure. Likewise Sylvester. Love the concept of perfect imperfection. As we live in an imperfect world it’s comforting to have a way to achieve perfection. Go Orioles!

  4. Home fries.

    Mad Max is a traitor to the Tiger cause, an infidel whose name shall not be spoken. As for the Nationals,they are traitors to the Expo cause. Pas nos amours. I laughed my tail off when some phone company shelled out big bucks to have Hair Boy Harper shill for them during the postseason, only to have him personally whiff to end–once again–the Nats postseason in its infancy. Awww, thems gonna cry.

    I tried “The Wire.” I’m not one of those who bleats in the Netflix reviews that there was a bad word, oh my, but it was just more blue language than i could accommodate. So I didn’t stick with it. I didn’t want to have to wash out my speakers with soap. There’s no escape though—the Tigers’ Jacoby Jones says ffffffank you very much about once a game. Back in the day, when the 1972 Tigers won the east, shortstop Eddie Brinkman crowed, in a live interview, “What a great bunch of f*ckers!” Now THAT was funny! Just the year before, the last real Washington MLB team ended its mostly dreadful run with a forfeit. Bernie Allen had a led a group of malcontents in hopes of sabotaging the hated (by them) skipper Ted Williams. Poor Ted. He could have probably *still* hit better than Bernie Allen. Okay, I am off to resume watching the Phillies dispose of the Nationals on tv. It was raining earlier because even Goddess does not like the faux Washington should-be Expos.

    • Ultimately the problem with the Nationals is that Washington is a “I’m not from here originally town.” So fans are “locals” in a very temporary way and they are Nats fans in a similarly temporary way, which is why the stadium is very Giants-friendly when the Giants come to town, and very Dodgers-friendly when the Dodgers come to town … it’s simply Nats fans donning the caps of their “real” homes and not their currently temporary one.

      Although, I’ve never quite forgiven my friends from back in the day who were Orioles fans with me and who jumped shipped to the Nats as soon as they came to town. I’d never do that. (No matter how bad the Orioles are … and, to be fair, they are currently very very very bad.)

  5. I’ve always believed the DH-No DH controversy should be solved one way or another — to just have the same rules in both leagues since the two leagues now play each other frequently. However, Jackie, your column convinced me of the wonderful, forgotten concept of compromise and I agree with you. See, Reds fans and Orioles fans can be on the same page!

  6. I’m a total pacifist… Or maybe just the devil’s advocate. I could make the case for either side depending on the circumstances. That’s especially true of hash browns vs home fries. Hash browns MUST be super crispy to qualify, and only when paired with a more substantial main. Home fries can almost stand on their own as an appetizer, must be totally tender all the way through, and need to be seasoned really well to make the cut. It all depends… !

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