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With Baseball’s Winter Meetings two weeks away in Dallas, Texas, it’s perfect timing to dive into the free agent pool. This is the first of a nine-part series entitled Set You Free* that will take a position-by-position look at this offseason’s free agency market. Today, Jesse Behr starts us off with designated hitters.
It was Opening Day, April 1973. Ron Blomberg sat in the visitor’s dugout at Fenway Park in what was likely utter confusion. Blomberg didn’t have a number penciled next to his name on the Yankees lineup card but rather two letters “D-H.” American League owners had voted to in introduce a “designated hitter” to every lineup for a three-year trial run. Blomberg, an underwhelming outfielder by trade, had committed 13 errors at first base for the Bronx Bombers in 1972. He had no position to call home because he wasn’t really cut out to play any position. Knowing that, Blomberg was the perfect test subject for the American League DH.
Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images
by Tyler Wasserman | @tylerwasserman | firstname.lastname@example.org |
Think back to 2001. In a historic MLB season, the Mariners won a record 116 games. The Athletics, also in the AL West, won an outstanding 102 games. Both teams deservingly qualified for the playoffs, along with the other AL division winners, the Indians and the Yankees. The Twins were the best AL non-playoff team, winning 85 games.
Now, envision this scenario: all of those teams finish with the same record, except the Twins qualify for the playoffs as a 2nd Wild Card team. They play the Athletics in a one game playoff for the right to play the Mariners in the ALDS. The Twins then beat the Athletics in one game, completely evading the 17 game difference in their regular season records. This doesn’t seem fair, yet it is a distinct possibility under Bud Selig’s system adding an extra Wild Card team to each league.
Though it certainly doesn’t hurt, you don’t have to play pro ball or go to an Ivy League school to become a GM. Here are the ‘imperfect’ roads taken by the current class of *general managers, listed in reverse chronological order:
Dan Duquette, Baltimore Orioles
Amherst College, 1980
Played baseball as a catcher at Amherst College. Started his career with the Brewers as a scouting assistant. Served as General Manager of the Montreal Expos (1991-1994) and Boston Red Sox (1994-2002). Named General Manager of the Orioles in November 2011.