Finally, academic research asking the really big questions, such as, "How does party ID relate to support for the designated hitter rule?" The Etiology of Public Support for the Designated Hitter Rule (Quarterly Journal of Political Science, 2007, 2: 189–203)
Several aspects of our findings deserve mention. 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. Nor are self-identified political conservatives, once the effects of party are accounted for, any more likely to express hostility toward the rule than are liberals.
The main reason the researchers were not surprised by this finding is...
...those on the political left are typically more accepting – even welcoming – of change, particularly when those changes can be shown (or are believed) to yield tangible benefits. This line of reasoning suggests that those on the political right will be less likely to favor the DH rule, while those on the left will be more likely to support it.
However, I feel this misses the point. Were this simply an extension of the political reaction to "change" (or favoring tradition over change) we would have expected the opposite result from Republicans or, especially, ideological conservatives, yet we do not find such a result. A better explanation, I feel, can be found in the liberal/Democratic propensity to politicize nearly everything, which is something that Republicans and independents are less likely to do. Liberals project their political attitudes onto baseball, while non-liberals are more apt to "let baseball be baseball", i.e. treat it as a game.
Opponent of the DH dislike it because it creates categories of pseudo-players who either do not hit, or who cannot run and field. In effect, it favors crappy baseball players. You can agree or disagree with such a view, but it is clear that the opposition to the DH rule does not rise from any political consideration. Democrats, however, see politics in everything so maybe they are agreeing with the DH rule, on an almost subconscious level, because it resembles affirmative action for the old,slow and incompetent.
Additionally, this paper gives a great example of why I love footnotes so damn much. Footnote #15 is a thing of beauty:
In an interesting sidenote, 4.6 percent of those uninterested in baseball believed that the world would end in 2000, compared to 1.5 percent of those who expressed at least some interest in the sport (χ2 1 = 7.45, p = 0.006, γ = −0.53). Perhaps more tellingly, four of the five baseball-following Armageddonites in our sample favored the DH rule, though this latter relationship failed to attain statistical – if not metaphysical – significance.
I'm sure the problem was a small n for the "baseball-following Armageddonites." Given that, it still makes sense that such folks favored the DH rule. I mean, if the world is about to end who cares about the DH?
(h/t to Drezner for pointing me to this.)