It must, I’m sure, be a head-scratcher.
With the beginning of the 2021 baseball season, National League ball is back in all its glory. With two out in the very first half-inning of the season, Jack Flaherty stepped into the batter’s box in Cincinnati. At that moment, he became the first Cardinal pitcher to register an official plate appearance since October 14, 2019.
For historical context, Flaherty, himself, was the last Cardinal pitcher to bat. He struck out against Washington righthander Stephen Strasburg in the third inning of that contest (Game Three of a four-game Championship series sweep the Cards suffered at the hands of the Washington Nationals).
Jack didn’t get a hit in his first at bat of the season, but he did deliver a line-drive to right that – at 93.8 mph – had a 24% chance of being a hit. He then proceeded to walk in his final two plate appearances, scoring once. Not a bad day, symbolically, at all for the return of the pitcher.
But the DH crowd must surely be scratching their heads. What in the world do these dim bulb National League fans find so fascinating about watching a pitcher strikeout? Or lay down a bunt (although Flaherty did neither on this day)?
I have no real hope of helping these lost souls understand why this tradition is important. Over the next several paragraphs I will lay out a complete and unassailable argument for keeping the pitcher in the batter’s box, but I already know that the words of my carefully crafted epistle will fall on deaf ears. At the end of this article, I will even predict the disastrous fate of baseball as we know it, should the National League buckle and allow the American League stain to disgrace the NL game.
Will they listen? Of course not. How could they?
Who are these misguided pseudo-fans? It’s an eclectic group. Some are AL fans too young to remember when Dave McNally hit a grand slam in the 1970 World Series (Fun fact, Cincinnati’s opposing starter that day was a chap named Tony Cloninger, who was the only pitcher in history to hit two grand slam home runs in the same game). They can be forgiven somewhat, as they have never really known anything else. Many are sportswriters, who (since baseball is now their profession) have grown increasingly jaded and bored with the marathon that a baseball season always is. Most are casual fans of the short attention span generation who gravitate away from contests that require more than minimal measures of thinking and concentration.
According to a recent article by local columnist Ben Frederickson (available here), that phalanx also includes baseball management. BenFred regales his audience with a story of Cub manager David Ross ending up in the fetal position sucking his thumb after his star pitcher Kyle Hendricks was involved in a mild base-running collision earlier this spring.
After a story like that, I am almost embarrassed to be the one to inform Mr. Ross that pitchers are, in actuality, athletes, and they can manage running to first without damaging themselves. About a dozen or so times in an average season, Mr. Hendricks will, in fact, need to cover first base on a ground-ball to the right side. This is an even trickier event than running to first as a batter, as Mr. Hendricks will be required to catch a throw and find first base with his foot – all without tumbling into the runner or spraining his ankle. If Mr. Ross has heart palpitations every time Kyle heads to first, it’s going to be a long season for him.
First Things First
Against this small army of the misinformed and disaffected, mere logic is hopelessly insufficient. So, before I start making their heads explode, let’s establish this first principle.
This is the game that National League fans want. If the American League is happy with their silly alteration, fine. Let them keep it. But fans of National League ball want the true game. Even if you can’t understand the whys of that desire, since we, the fans, are the ultimate source of all that wealth that these two sides will be squabbling over next year, our desires in this matter should be respected. It is nothing less than immoral for players and owners to shove this affront down our throats.
Let’s be clear about this from the very beginning. There is a reason that the DH has been a fixture in the American League for about fifty years and has never seeped over into the National League. That reason isn’t because the NL fans have been begging the powers that be to please, please, pretty please let us have the DH. The reason that the AL has been the only participant in this insanity is that National League fans have consistently and overwhelmingly rebuked the DH.
Beyond that, the whys shouldn’t really matter. This is our desire, and thus it becomes incumbent on an industry whose only reason for existing is to provide us the game that we want to bend to our will. Anything short of that is as much an act of tyranny as a sporting organization is capable of.
Where to Start?
In taking this next step toward helping you understand, I’m faced with an almost overwhelming dilemma of where to start. Let’s start with one of the fundamental concepts of what baseball is and what it is not.
Baseball is not spectacle. It is a contest of sometimes exceedingly subtle proficiencies. Home Run Derby is spectacle. It involves nothing so occupying as strategy, and the action pauses only long enough for one batter to exit the batter’s box so that the next one can take his place. The rest is just watching in awe as mere mortals repeat the action of driving little white balls 400+ feet over contrived outfield walls over, and over, and over, and over until the assembled congregation has reached a point of awe-fatigue.
Given the undue emphasis on home runs, it is – to some extent – understandable that a lot of casual fans might equate baseball itself with the home run. In fact, there are many “fans” (and probably many sportswriters like BenFred) who feel that if a particular game isn’t chock-full of home runs, then that game is a failure. For viewers who need to see more than 15 runs scored in a game to stay awake, a 1-0 contest must – to them – be an excruciating experience.
So here is the first fundamental that you must understand to watch baseball. The point of the game is not to hit home runs. The point of the game is to win the contest. This is achieved by scoring at least one more run – in any of the myriad of ways that a run can be scored in baseball – than the team you are playing against. With this understanding, it becomes clear that neither the game with no home runs hit, nor the 1-0 game are failures at all. If you are such that you cannot invest in a 1-0 game, then baseball isn’t your sport – no matter how many designated hitters they stock the lineup with. It simply isn’t true that unless truckloads of runs are cascading across the scoreboard that nothing is happening.
For what it’s worth, the single most intense and satisfying game I have ever watched was a 1-0 contest. I’ll leave you long-time Cardinal fans to guess which game that was. If you are a fan of the game, the number of runs scored in the contest is less relevant. Victory – in whatever fashion – satisfies. It is the only thing that does.
A Two-Way Sport
Pushing deeper into an understanding of what baseball is on a fundamental level, I find myself in the awkward situation of trying to explain the obvious. As designed, baseball is a two-way sport. As in basketball, that means that the players on the field are expected to compete to the best of their abilities on BOTH ends of the court. This is the glory of two-way sports. It’s the reason we watch.
Using basketball as a handy example, you don’t have to watch very much to see that all the players on the court aren’t equally proficient on both ends. Some are better offensively than they are defensively, and vice-versa. It thus becomes the coach’s challenge to balance his players’ strengths with their weaknesses.
Let me make two important observations from the basketball model. First, the fact that all of the players on the court are not as skilled on both ends of the court doesn’t detract at all from the quality or enjoyment of the game. Just the opposite. The fact that each player has his/her individual strength and weakness invites a strategic element that adds richness to the experience.
The second important point is the impact that this reality has on the team. They come to realize quickly that they are not five clones all doing the same things with equal skill on the floor. They are a team of diverse skills and challenges, and the members of that team coalesce around each other – each atoning for his teammate’s weakness with his strength, even as his teammate will cover for his weakness.
When this happens – when this aggregation of individuals merges into a team – it provides one of team sports’ most rewarding experiences. The bonding of a flawed but unified team is a transcendent moment. One to be sought after, not legislated away.
Baseball is that same sport – just without the fast breaks. The balancing act between offense and defense goes back to the very beginnings of the sport and far exceeds the problem of what to do with the pitcher’s at bat. Through all the generations of baseball, managers have looked for places to hide less skilled glove-men in order to keep their bats in the line-up. Baseball history is replete with plodding corner outfielders and lumbering firstbasemen who turned every fly ball or ground ball hit their way into an adventure, but who provided needed pop at the plate. In baseball’s varied past, you will also find many, many gifted fielders who struggled at the plate. The pitcher at the plate is only the very tip of this iceberg.
A Flawed Defense
Which brings me to the most oft cited (and deeply flawed) defense of the DH. Pitchers can’t hit, so why make them.
Well, in the first place, the premise isn’t completely true. If it’s true that “as a group” pitchers are usually less proficient at the plate than position players, it is not uniformly true that pitchers can’t hit. While Shohei Ohtani is exhibit number three (there were a couple of pitchers named Ruth and Musial a few years ago who did OK with the bat in their hands), there isn’t as great a shortage of pitchers who have some proficiency hitting the baseball as most would think.
In point of fact, in 2019 (the last year pitchers hit), there were 14 pitchers who hit at least .200. The Mets had three of them. Steven Matz hit .228 (13 for 57) with a home run. Zack Wheeler hit .211 (12 for 57), and also added a home run. Jacob deGrom hit an even .200 (13 for 65), including 2 home runs. A fourth Met starter – Noah Syndergaard – hit only .092 (6 for 65), but 2 of those hits were home runs – giving the Mets 6 home runs from its pitching staff (more than the 5 they got from starting center-fielder Juan Lagares).
Meanwhile, Arizona received 5 homeruns from its pitching staff – three from Zack Greinke (who hit .267 for the year).
The list includes German Marquez, who hit .234 with 5 extra-base hits (including a triple); Matt Strahm, who hit .286; Peter Lambert, who hit .321; and Pittsburgh’s Steven Brault, who hit .333 (14 for 42) with a home run and a .777 OPS.
Not included in the list are stalwarts Adam Wainwright, Max Scherzer and Madison Bumgarner. None of them managed the .200 mark in 2019, although they have in the past. Bumgarner hit 2 more home runs, bringing him to 19 for his career in about a regular season’s worth of at bats (596).
Now, I am not suggesting that any of these pitchers would outhit a designated hitter. But there are a few important points suggested by these numbers. The first is that a pitcher’s at bat is not a pointless exercise in futility – an automatic strikeout waiting to happen. Most of them – even the ones who hit below .200 – have a better idea of what they are doing with a bat in their hands than they are generally given credit for. In an interview earlier this year, Wainwright pointed out that frequently that hit by the pitcher turns out to be a turning point in the game. If you want a fun research project, thumb through the box scores of National League games in 2019 and see how often the winning team got some production from the pitcher’s spot in the order – whether a hit or a walk. Or a bunt, for that matter.
Which brings me to my next point.
If it’s true that none of these pitchers are necessarily better hitters than a DH would be, it’s very significant that they are better hitters than their pitching counterparts. In fact, nowhere else on the diamond is there such disparity between the very best hitters at a given position and the very worst. Even the gap between the defensive and offensive oriented shortstops isn’t as great. This advantage is significant. When your lineup is blessed by one of the better hitting pitchers, it’s better than having a designated hitter advantage. It’s playing with nine hitters against eight.
I’m not the world’s biggest fan of the WAR system (Wins Against Replacement), but in their efforts to weigh individual player value, this system recognizes the value of a pitcher that can hit.
Wainwright, for example, has a career WAR of 40.7 – 4.1 of which (10.1%) is from his bat. Zack Greinke derives 7.1% of his value (5.1 out of 72.1) from his bat. Fully 12.6% of Bumgarner’s value is his ability to swing the bat (4.6 of his 36.5 career WAR).
Why would you enact legislation to make some of your best players less valuable? If you have a player like Mookie Betts who is one of baseball’s best both with a bat and a glove in his hands, then – in a two-way sport like baseball – you’ve gained an earned advantage over the team whose outfielders are one-dimensional. If your football team has a quarterback who can scramble, you have that advantage over the team whose quarterback is immobile. If Nolan Arenado is your third-baseman, unless your opponent has a third-baseman who can both field and hit as well as Nolan, you have that advantage.
All over the sports landscape, multi-faceted players are celebrated. But not in baseball – when it comes to the pitcher.
More Common than You Would Suspect
Here’s the other thing about these pitchers who swing the bat. They are more prevalent than you think. Adding Scherzer, Wainwright and Bumgarner to the list brings the total to about 17 pitchers with significant abilities to swing the bat – around one per team. This means that roughly every five games, some National League team holds a significant advantage over its opponent because its pitcher can do something that the opposing pitcher can’t. Over the course of the season, that equates to about 32 games with this noted advantage. That is a huge number – a number that can go a long ways toward deciding a pennant race.
The truth is that an event that is widely regarded by unobservant fans and sportswriters as a kind of baseball black hole, is anything but. A pitcher who knows what he’s doing up there can have a significant impact on his team’s fortunes over the course of the season.
And What About the More Helpless Pitchers?
While I’ve extolled the impact of the competent hitters among baseball’s pitching staffs, it is, nonetheless, true that those players constitute a decided minority of baseball’s pitchers. What happens when your game features two starters who are little more than automatic outs at the plate?
One of the purposes of this little epistle is to comfort those of you who feel stress over this circumstance. I am here to tell you that it’s all right. It’s perfectly OK for a pitcher to take an at bat in which he’s overmatched. The cosmic balance of the game is not disturbed by this occurrence.
In baseball, players are always asked to do things they are not necessarily good at. What offends me is that pitchers at the plate get singled out. At 38 years old and after a lifetime of crouching behind the plate, Yadier Molina is now, arguably, baseball’s slowest base-runner. But when he finds himself on first base, there is no outrage over the fact Molina will be attempting something he is ill-suited for – running the bases. Even in the age of the designated hitter, there are still a plethora of shaky defenders carrying gloves out to the field so that their bats can be kept in the lineup. Again, there is no outrage. Even the casual fan and lazy sportswriter won’t bat an eye.
Hey, wake up! There’s an awful defender in right field! (Eh, who cares?) Look, there’s a slow runner clogging the base-paths! (Wait. What? There’s running in this game?) See, to all of those fans, the defense and the base-running are the baseball equivalent of fly-over territory. Something to be endured while waiting for the next home run.
But send someone to the plate who’s not a legitimate home run threat, and you will reap their outrage. Because hitting is all that matters. These are the people for whom our beautiful game is being eviscerated.
Speaking of Offense
And, by the way, if offense is your only measuring stick for the game, then you have to realize that this designated hitter gizmo is more promise than performance (some statistics will follow to establish this point). As a rule, it’s too restricted and cumbersome to get out of its own way.
The easiest and most sensible first step is to allow the manager to implement a designated hitter for anyone in the lineup. As it is now, this rule only allows the DH to substitute for the pitcher. But wouldn’t you always want to hit for the pitcher, anyway? Not necessarily.
Back in the days of the great Bob Gibson, the Cards had a chap at shortstop named Dal Maxvill. A smooth fielder, Maxy was never much of a hitter – and nowhere near as good a hitter as Gibson. In 1970 – for example – while Gibson was hitting .303 with 2 home runs and 19 runs batted in just 109 at bats, Maxvill hit .201 with no home runs and 28 RBIs in 399 at bats. There was no doubt that the Cardinals and their fans were more confident with Gibby at the plate than they were with Maxy.
But, had the DH applied in the National League, the Cards wouldn’t have had the option of hitting for Maxvill and letting Gibson bat for himself. Their only options would be to forego the DH entirely (which is what the Angels have to do if they want Ohtani to hit on the same day that he pitches), or they would have had to take the bat out of Bob’s hands, while forcing Cardinal Nation to watch Maxville take his full four at bats.
My question – well, one of my questions – all along has been, why? Why doesn’t the rule even allow for the possibility that your starting pitcher that day might happen to be a better hitter than your shortstop (or centerfielder, or catcher) that day. Why is the rule so restrictive?
To be honest with you, if I were to employ a designated hitter concept to its optimum offensive potential, I would always let my pitcher hit – no matter how unskilled he was – and always hit for my worst hitting fielder. Here’s why:
For all of the commotion surrounding pitchers in the batters’ box, they usually only get two plate appearances in an average game. Thereafter, their spot always reverts to a series of pinch-hitters. So half (or more) of the pitchers’ at bats are already taken by “professional hitters,” while – barring unusual circumstances – your worst hitting player will struggle through his four full at bats. If, however, your DH takes the four at bats of your struggling regular, then at the end of the day “quality hitters” will have taken 6 of your team’s 8 most problematic at bats.
Speaking of Pinch Hitters
Which leads me to, perhaps, the worst sin of the designated hitter rule that no one ever points out. The DH rule all but shuts your bench out of the game.
In 2019, in the American League, 96.9% of all plate appearances went to the nine guys who started the game. In the entirety of the season, there were only 2881 plate appearances by non-starters, and only 1367 pinch hitting appearances. (And what do you want to bet that the bulk of those came in non-DH games played in NL ballparks?) By contrast, in the National League the starters only fulfilled 92.2% of the plate appearances, as players who didn’t start that game still made 7295 plate appearances – 2.5 times the number of plate appearances as their AL counterparts. A pinch-hitter came to the plate 4303 times that year – more than three times as many pinch-hitting opportunities as the AL.
Whatever other points may be up for debate in this argument, here is one point that cannot be debated. Allowing the pitcher to bat, involves the bench in the game. When the DH takes his at bats, the bench becomes nearly useless. In the 171 games the Cardinals played in 2019 (counting their playoff games) there were only 5 games in which no bench player got a plate appearance. In the DH-imposed season of 2020, Cardinal non-starters went without a plate appearance in five of the team’s first seven games, and contributed nothing to 26 of the 61 games (again, counting playoffs) that the team played that year.
Again, I can hear the short-attention span crowd groaning. Who cares, right? These guys are just nobodies. Who cares if they never get an at bat? You can’t seriously imagine that I would look up from my smart phone to watch John Nogowski take an at bat, do you?
And, of course, if the only reason you turn on a game is to oooh and ahh over home runs off the bats of the game’s handful of superstars, then, yes, who cares about the bench. Why do they even bother showing up?
But if you care about the team (which is to say that if you are an actual fan of the game). If you care about winning – if you care about your team playing in the World Series, then you understand that a functional bench fulfills an enormous role in reaching those objectives.
In that 2019 season, St Louis received 53 runs batted in from players who didn’t start the game. These included 6 game-winning hits and 11 late, game-changing hits. The Cards only had 47 late, game-changing hits all season, so their bench came through with almost one-fourth of those clutch hits.
(Late, game-changing hits is a proprietary statistical category of RandomCardinal Stats. A LGCH is any run batted in after the sixth inning that either ties the score or sends your team ahead.)
Bench involvement is a critical factor for the health and well-being of your team over the course of the long season. A game in which the pitcher bats encourages bench participation.
Lost Strategy – 1
The diminishment of the bench also incurs a significant loss of strategy. Frankly, about 80% of the discernible strategy of a baseball game involves the handling of the pitcher’s spot in the order. This includes, of course, decisions about bunting and so forth while the starting pitcher is in the game, but continues after he leaves the game, once the pinch-hitters take over.
Unlike the arrangement provided by the designated hitter, the pinch-hitters who will bat in the pitcher’s spot for the rest of the game in the National League will have just one shot, and the manager must decide who gets which opportunity. Do you send up your most dangerous left-handed bat with a runner on first in the seventh-inning? Or do you hold him back for a possible ninth-inning shot?
Everybody’s bench provides limited options as far as right-handers vs lefties, power vs contact, and the decision of when to deploy which asset is a strategical aspect of the game that has all but evaporated in the American League, but is still very central to the real game as it is still played in the NL.
Lost Strategy – 2
When the discussion turns to strategy, proponents of the DH have gone to considerable length to assert that their abomination comes with no real loss of strategy. While declaring himself “not an advocate of the DH,” Bill James devoted more than three pages in his Historical Baseball Abstract to trying to prove “by the numbers” that no strategy is lost through employment of the designated hitter.
Bill should have known better. There is an old adage among those of us who traffic in numbers. If you torture numbers long enough, they will confess to anything. In spite of the multiple mathematical machinations from the pro-DH lobby, the pure fact is that strategy is lost. Certainly, the situation described in the preceding section is dramatically lessened. Beyond that, though, the DH completely eradicates the most difficult decision a manager can actually face in the game.
In this scenario, Washington is playing the Dodgers in Los Angeles. It’s Scherzer against Clayton Kershaw, and both aces are on their game. To the agony of the “offense-only” fans, a sacrifice fly has produced the game’s only run, and the Dodgers come up in the bottom of the sixth, trailing 1-0.
Suddenly, with two outs, Los Angeles puts together a small rally. A couple of singles puts the tying run on third. But, with two out, the eighth-place hitter is due up. The Nationals decide to walk him, loading the bases for Kershaw. And here you have it. Dave Roberts has only two options. He lets Kershaw bat, or he pinch-hits for him. But inside of that either-or decision are, perhaps, a dozen variables to weigh.
The Dodger bullpen in recent years has frequently been less than water-tight. Even if the pinch-hitter comes through, would LA be able to hold onto its lead? If they don’t take the chance now, will they get another opportunity? And so forth. Whichever option Roberts chooses, if he is wrong he probably loses the game.
Crunch all the numbers you want, but the American League has nothing like this. And even those these moments are quite rare, they are still as close as baseball ever comes to the fourth-and-inches decisions that football coaches are commonly presented with.
An Ominous Future
If my appeals to the connections to baseball’s glorious past leave you unmoved, perhaps the long-range, unintended consequences of the National League’s move to the designated hitter will stimulate some concern. Here are a few paragraphs of dire prophecy for you to digest.
With the concession of the National League, there will then be no organizations of any standing anywhere in North America that still play baseball with the pitcher taking his turn at bat. So, with that occurrence, there will be no defensible reason for any organization anywhere to continue the practice. The DH will soon – if it hasn’t already – reach down into the lowest developmental levels of the game. Now, as soon as a child is old enough to start to pitch, he/she will stop hitting – and, more importantly – others will stop playing defense. The same way that youth in Pop Warner football become either tailbacks or cornerbacks, baseball youth will become hitters or pitchers.
What will the impact of this be? It is demonstrably easier to develop as a hitter if you aren’t burdened with the necessity of playing defense. If you read carefully through the scouting reports of every teams’ top prospects, like a recurring theme you will read of promising hitters who are held back by concerns over their defense. The infection of the NL with the DH virus will be met with a corresponding surge in young players who can hit but will only have batting gloves in their travel bags. And then, what happens?
Suppose you are a team like the Milwaukee Brewers of last year. You have Eric Sogard playing third – a solid fielder, but just a .209 hitter. He is joined at shortstop by Orlando Arcia – a similarly challenged hitter. You have Steve Braun who is one of your offensive leaders, but a liability wherever you play him on the field. You also have top prospect Keston Hiura playing second. Keston led your team in home runs, but impressed no one with his defense.
You would like to have either Braun or Hiura DH, but you already have Daniel Vogelbach – who can’t play anywhere – manning the DH position for you. As you look into your minor league prospects, you note that your top four hitters are bats without a position – perhaps two are career designated hitters and the other two call themselves first-basemen.
Now, suppose that this Milwaukee team looks around the majors and notes that they are not alone in this situation – that, in fact, the majority of major league teams have more bats than they have positions to play them at – even if they do have a DH as an available option. Before too long, someone will suggest that – since they are already hitting automatically for the pitcher, why not for another position player as well? Or possibly two other positions – to be decided by the manager.
The logic would be unassailable. If the pitcher doesn’t have to bat, why should – say – Harrison Bader? Pitchers are no less baseball players than anyone else on the team, and if the insatiable thirst for more offense has pushed them out of the batter’s box, then why shouldn’t it push out other players whose defensive skills out-strip their offensive contributions? Why is it compulsory that your shortstop hit?
As soon as this possibility is suggested, the union will embrace it and begin a push for it. It means more starting jobs – the only aspect of this once-beautiful game that the union is at all passionate about.
After a couple of additional DH’s are added, it will be a very short slide to baseball as a completely platooned sport – nine hitters who never play in the field, and nine defenders who never come to bat. Within twenty years of the imposition of the designated hitter in the National League, this will start to happen. There simply will be no mechanism in place to prevent it.
Note that in a few years, there will be no two-way stars at all. No Nolan Arenado’s. No Mookie Betts.’ If a future player shows potential to be great with both the bat and the glove, the union will force him to choose one or the other. A player who both hits and fields, you see, would cost someone a starting job.
If this is your idea of baseball’s idyllic future, then you should absolutely support the effort to make the disgrace of the designated hitter universal. It’s not my ideal – and I suspect that a sizeable majority share my distaste for that development.
Where’s the Upside?
What, then, I ask, as I review the deep damage that this rule has done and will potentially yet do, is the gain? What does baseball get in exchange for immolating the perfect game that Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Henry Aaron and Stan Musial played? What is the benefit?
Here are league-wide numbers from 2019, the last full seasons in which the two leagues employed their divergent styles. The American League batted .253. The National League hit .251. The American League slugged .439. The National League slugged .431. Both leagues finished with the exact same on base percentage – .323.
The average American League team scored 4.88 runs per game. The average National League team scored 4.78 runs per game. That’s it. One additional run every ten games – 16 runs over the course of the whole season. For that you would ram down our throats a rule that disconnects our game from its treasured past and threatens its future? For 16 runs? Really?
Back Where I Began
When I began this missive, I knew it was a fool’s errand. Those who have embraced the evil of the DH have already moved beyond careful logic, or they wouldn’t be pro-DH in the first place. I expect by this point in my post the only one’s still reading are the ones who share my understanding and passion for the true game.
For any supporters of the DH rule still with us, I will end where I began. How is it justifiable for the powers that be to act contrary to the will of the fans who are the support for this endeavor? Even if you can’t understand the whys, you should at least respect that this is our wish.
If it’s not our game, than whose is it? If you chase us away, then what will you have left?