I think baseball is the most complex and interesting of all the team sports. Some people get bored by the game but I am constantly fascinated. There is always some strategy going on. They call it a game of inches and that is very true. The triple that Soriano hit off the wall was just inches from being a grand slam home run and was also just inches from just being a long out.
Some of you may remember George Carlin’s monologue about baseball.
Baseball is a gentle game compared to football. No time limits extra innings little contact except close plays at the plate. Baseball is definitely my favorite of all team sports.
Hit and runs, pick off plays, infield moving in, outfield playing long, bunts, sacrifices, steals and pitch outs all make baseball a chess match with sophistication built from over 150 years of professional play. In the younger American League, however, they have a travesty called the designated hitter!
This is a rule that allows the pitcher to be replaced when batting by a hitter that does not play in the field. The rule was implemented in the American League only and the older, more mature and sophisticated National League has played without the DH. American League games are boring and stripped of the intrigue and complexity that batting pitchers provide.
The DH hides the weaknesses in the bullpens of American League teams. It was designed to extend the careers of aging hitters but who really wants to watch a 40-year-old has-been strike out a lot and occasionally connect? Remember, Barry Bonds and for that matter Hank Aaron played in the National League!
The DH rule was created for TV and represents the dumbing down of baseball. It was supposed to provide more offense but the National League consistently has better hitting and hitters than the American League. A hitting pitcher can help his own cause. I love watching my Cubbies, especially when Carlos Zambrano is pitching. Not only is he a fantastic pitcher, full of emotion and energy, but he is a great hitting pitcher, too, and I have seen him throw a great game and add RBIs and hits to win the game. You just don’t see pitchers like that in the AL. If Zambrano was in the American League Hernandez would have been sitting on the bench and some guy with a big gut would have been striding up to the plate.
The intrigue comes in the later innings when the manager must make offensive and defensive decisions based on whether the pitcher stays in or is relieved. If the team is behind, a poor hitting pitcher is likely to be replaced by a pinch hitter but that might necessitate a double switch in which another player is also switched to take best advantage of the batting order. This complexity is completely lost in the American League, making that league the Walmart of baseball.
It is time to ban the designated hitter rule from baseball and bring real baseball back to the American League.