Better Game

I despise the designated hitter rule. It deprives us fans of American League teams of exciting games like Friday night’s contest against the Reds. We used all of our bullpen, and all but one position player. Now that was fun to watch.

The number of tactical moves required to navigate a close game under National League rules far exceeds what is typical when pitchers don’t bat. Analyzing trade-offs and match-ups on the fly becomes more critical. Baseball is so much more interesting when pitchers have to swing the bat, for the fans and for the players.

Even though I’ve had some extensive arguments with DH supporters in the past, I still can’t fathom why anyone would prefer the DH rule. Exchanging a few more hits and runs — usually by one-dimensional overpaid players — for all the excitement of the National League game seems like a categorically lousy trade-off to me.

National League starting pitchers who want to stay in games late have to either learn how to put together a decent plate appearance, or pitch so well that the manager won’t dare pinch-hit for them until they are at or above their pitch-count limit. And if they plunk an opposing hitter, they better be ready to duck in their own next at bat.

To supporters of the DH rule, I say – why stop there? True, pitchers overall are lousy hitters. But catchers and first basemen are usually lousy runners, too. So why not have a designated runner? Or a designated fielder? You could expand the rosters to 48 players, like the NFL. And we could throw in red flag coach’s challenges (and four hour games) to boot. Wouldn’t that be fun?

I like seeing pitchers at the plate in key run scoring situations. It creates a heightened sense of significance to an already exciting event. Can he help himself and his team to a win? Or will he wave weakly as the opposing pitcher fires ninety-five mile per hour fastballs up and in? If I was a pitcher, or a back-up player, I’d much rather play in the National League, just as Wilson Betemit explained.

MLB should either do away with the DH rule once and for all, or allow the Royals to switch leagues – something they should have done when given the opportunity back in 1997.

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Tags: Designated Hitter Kansas City Royals MLB Wilson Betemit

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