Today, three events reminded me that spring is almost here. Daylight savings time, spring-like weather and my first Major League Baseball discussion of the season. My friend and I revisited one of our most frequent disagreements about baseball – the designated hitter. I’m going to use my discussion to write a different genre (opinion) than I’ve written thus far for the challenge.
Major League baseball is the only professional sports league that changes its rules based upon the game’s location. Games played in American League (A.L.) Parks’ use a Designated Hitter where as games in National League (N.L.) Parks’ the pitcher bats. The National League must adopt the Designated Hitter rule.
First, There is now an interleague game every day. It used to be such games were played during a few week period every season. A.L. pitchers could prepare for these special games. Now, they are being put at a higher risk for injury by being asked to do what they hardly ever do — hit and run the bases — at various points throughout the entire season. At a time when teams are trying more and more to protect pitchers, it doesn’t make sense to put half the sport’s hurlers in this situation.
Next, The 15 NL teams simply cannot sign certain free agents to long-term contracts because they do not have the DH as a fallback position when the player ages and, perhaps, loses the ability to play the field. For example, David Ortiz cannot be signed by an NL team.
Lastly, most fans want to watch offense, not a sleepy 2-1 pitcher’s duel night after night. In the past four years, offense has cratered, and it was at its worst in 2014. Teams averaged 4.17 runs per game this year, lowest since 1989. The MLB batting average of .253 and on-base percentage of .318 were the lowest since 1972, the year before the AL introduced the DH.
American League teams are building their roster and allocating dollars to play one way all year, and then in World Series have to play a different way.
Having different rules does not make any sense. Just imagine, if a Super Bowl team playing one way all season is told in the Super Bowl they cannot play with a running back. It’s time for Major League Baseball to make the National League adopt the Designated Hitter.