I never blame myself when I’m not hitting. I just blame the bat and if it keeps up, I change bats. After all, if I know it isn’t my fault that I’m not hitting, how can I get mad at myself? -Yogi Berra
Every June the games future begins anew, 30 MLB teams hope to have just drafted the next Mike Trout or Clayton Kershaw. And while most of the players selected won’t make it to the MLB it still holds significance as a representation of the changes and freshness that is renewed each year. This year’s draft is over, and teams move on to signing their prospects and assigning them to the minor leagues where they will hone their skills in hopes of one day making it to the show. With the draft over we should turn our attention to a change that I believe needs to be set in place this offseason. I am of course talking about the Designated Hitter rule. The Designated Hitter started in the American League back in 1973. It was added to give the offense a boost. Most people know that pitchers are not drafted because they can hit but rather their arm, making them the 9-hole hitter who usually bunts if he is asked to bat at all. In 1980 the National League went to vote on adopting the D.H. Rule (Baseball rule 5.11) but it fell through due to absentee votes. I think it is time to bring the discussion back to the table and settle the debate that has been raging for years in the MLB.
What other professional sports league has two separate rules for the same game? The NBA doesn’t have the east coast teams not have 3-point line, so why is there two different sets of rules for the two leagues in baseball? As much fun as it is to see a pitcher bunt the ball every time they are up, giving the other team an easy out, we need more offense in the game and a D.H. spot would solve that problem. I like to see a pitcher that can hit do so and pitchers like Maddison Bumgardner, Shohei Ohtani, Max Scherzer and a few more would be even more valuable if they could use the D.H. spot to hide maybe an offense challenged catcher, it doesn’t always have to be for the pitcher.
I have always liked to see the ball crushed, pitcher’s duals are great to read about the next day but are not too fun to watch on tv. The highlight plays shared on social media are not a pitch sequence resulting in a strike out, it is a pitch traveling over the plate and quickly changing direction out of the field of play. That’s what gets the crowd going not swing and misses. Obviously, there are times when the strikeout will be more important, and the moment will seem larger than it is, notably the 9th inning in a tie or close game, but people come to watch runs scored (If you are into a game that ends in a 0-0 tie, may I recommend Soccer). Offense wins games and looks good doing so at the same time, you don’t remember Babe Ruth as a pitcher for that specific reason.
But what about the talk of the tradition of the game? Some would argue that it would stain the rich and historical traditions that help make the game almost magical. But the times have changed, back then tickets were a quarter and you could get a soda and hotdog for a dime. You want to go back to that? Actually, that does sound like around my budget, but the point is that change is good and brings a better product that the fans will want to see and will continue to watch year after year. Keeping the game the same will cause it to be stagnate and become insignificant in the sports realm as more and more kids have smaller and smaller attention spans and are going to games that are faster passed and have more offensive firepower, they like to see points on the board.
Seems like baseball is heading for some much-needed changes as expansion teams have been brought up, the balls are juiced, and we should have the D.H. in both leagues. Where ever you stand on this issue remember to pick up your glove, head outside and Play Ball.