It seems like Major League Baseball is always searching for ways to “spice up” the game and make it more “appealing” to casual fans. The pace of play has been the hot ticket for a few years now.
But now, with offense league-wide taking a dip in recent years, the debate on whether or not the designated hitter should be implemented in the National League as well have begun to gain traction once again. In addition to a myriad of other proposed changes to the game, including a three-batter minimum for pitchers, a 20 second pitch clock (there’s that pace of play issue again), and no more August 31st Waiver deadline, the universal DH rule seems to be the most likely to A.) be implemented and B.) be implemented soon.
Well, as a sort of old-school baseball fan, I spit at this idea.
Now, while I think putting the DH in the National League would be smart and, ultimately, make the game better overall, I WANT PITCHERS TO HIT!
Not because it’s fun to see guys like Madison Bumgarner and Michael Lorenzen pop bombs left and right. I want pitchers to have to keep hitting because I want to see guys like Bartolo Colon, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Santiago Casilla, guys that have no business facing major league pitchers, be forced to take an at-bat every now and then.
I know that there are horror stories of pitchers getting hurt while running the bases or by just swinging a bat, see Adam Wainwright, Clay Buchholz, and Steven Wright, but even Wainwright, who tore his Achilles running out of the box in 2015, has said that he doesn’t the DH in the NL. Besides, it’s the perfect fish-out-of-water scenario.
Pitchers are some of the most babied, bubble wrapped athletes in all of sports, and forcing them to do anything athletic is a joy to watch for all of us baseball masochists.
Furthermore, pitchers swinging is funny to even non-baseball fans, ones that MLB target so heavily. I showed this compilation of Bartolo Colon’s “highlights” to both my girlfriend, her sister, her mom, and my mom, and they all thought it was the funniest thing since Who’s On First.
Pitchers being forced to hit is good for the game. It keeps pitchers egos in check. Any schlub can go out and throw a complete game, but to do it while taking 3 at-bats off of someone who’s throwing 95 with movement—oooooooouuuuuuuu—they don’t look so good do they?
Yes, runs would likely go up in the National League, and yes, World Series games would be more interesting in National League parks if the DH was brought in. But we would miss out on these shocking instances of non-athletes doing athletic things.
For the sake of the game, and for the sake of the stupidity, keep the DH out of the NL. Let the pitchers hit. Hell, put one in the home run derby while you’re at it.
This is one of the last remaining great things in baseball from the dead ball era, and it needs to stay.
Photo: Getty Images