Thursday, June 19, 2008

Designated Hitter, good or bad?

This has been the age old discussion in baseball between the supporters of the National League and the supporters of the American League. The fans of the National League way of play seem to be the purists who like old time baseball, mainly shorter and more well played games. The fans of the American League style of play seem to love offense.

Recently New York Yankees ace Chien Ming Wang got injured running the bases in a game against the Houston Astros. Wang suffered a foot injury which could have jeopardized his season, and put the Yankees in a bind. This led to this Hank Steinbrenner whine (oops, did I say that out loud? I meant 'quote').

"My only message is simple. The National League needs to join the 21st century," Steinbrenner said in Tampa, Fla. "They need to grow up and join the 21st century.

"Am I [mad] about it? Yes," Steinbrenner added. "I've got my pitchers running the bases, and one of them gets hurt. He's going to be out. I don't like that, and it's about time they address it. That was a rule from the 1800s."

Now I understand him being annoyed, his ace is out at least until September right in the midst of his team playing great baseball. He has a right to be annoyed, but these quotes in the context in which they were made were simply childish. He has a point, which I will address later on, but this quote just reeks of "WAH, let me complain because my star pitcher is out." It was a freak injury Hank, things happen. It's not like he got hurt bunting or in the batter's box which is a place he isn't accustomed to, he got hurt running, something he does before every start anyway.

Now that we have seen the quote from Mr. Steinbrenner, let's talk about the designated hitter. I, for one, am in favor of it. I am not a baseball purist, never was and never will be. I can see why someone would want the pitcher to bat, as it is part of the game, and baseball players should have to do everything on the field. If you play the field, you take your AB's as well. I can understand that, but here are a few reasons why I am in favor of the designated hitter:

- Watching pitchers, most of which hit in the neighborhood of .100, and look like they have no clue what they are doing at the plate is of no entertainment value.

- Watching pitchers, on the mound, manipulate lineups to get to the 9 spot with two outs, is quite boring. Here's a little fun fact for you.

In the year 1996 Rey Ordonez was intentionally walked 12 times. In that same season, Ken Griffey Jr was intentionally walked 13 times.

Ordonez' numbers that year- .257 BA 1 HR 30 RBI. He struck fear into opponents hearts like Rosanne Barr at an all you can eat buffet

-I'd much rather see a position player who is paid to hit, rather than a specialist (for all intents and purposes) who is paid to throw a ball.

-The strategy aspect of the pitcher hitting is overrated in my opinion. I'll give you a situation. It's 1-0 in the bottom of the 7th inning, your pitcher is pitcher a 5-hit gem. His spot comes up with runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs. Any manager in their right mind, unless you are talking about Mike Hampton or Micah Owings, is going to pinch hit in that situation. Here's another situation. 2nd inning, 0 outs, runners on 1st and 2nd and the pitcher is at the plate. Which manager doesn't bunt him in that situation? Obviously there are variables as to where good strategy comes into play but a lot of the times a manager's bed is made for him when it comes to taking out a pitcher, or bunting and such.

I think the good of the DH far outweighs the good of a pitcher hitting. I think the National League is grasping on how things 'used to be' and reminiscing rather than actually looking at how the game is played. Rules do eventually change and the style of play in all sports does change sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad.

All in all, I don't see why the purists and the National League are enamored with the pitcher batting. All it is, for the most part, is an automatic out. It's good seeing pitchers pitch around guys like Rey ordonez, who couldn't who couldn't hit a stripper if he was with PacMan Jones, to get to the pitcher? It's good seeing basically every pitcher in the league hit .100? I just don't see it.

1 comment:

Bryan said...

There is more involved with the pitcher batting than a simple pitch hitting scenario. There is the double switch, there is the pitcher that can hit, etc. It just leaves the game more up for grabs and it lets the good managers call the correct shots in the correct situation.

Of course, if it was Josh Beckett that got hurt....would we have heard from Steinbrenner then?