Baseball is the national pastime of the United States and because of that it holds a special place in all of sports and in society. Its importance can be seen in the image of a president throwing out the first pitch or in the re-telling of Jackie Robinson's story or the first game in old Yankee Stadium after September 11th. It is the deep respect that fans and players alike hold for baseball that makes adjusting the game in even the slightest way a controversial issue. It took a tie in the All-Star game and dwindling interest for the mid-season showcase to change the old format and only after games and series and seasons were decided by horribly missed calls did the institution of baseball introduce instant replay.
Rule changes have been made for all kinds of reasons, like preventing catchers from blocking the path to home plate which is akin to the seat belt law, "it's for their own good" and competitive reasons like a wider strike zone to help batters against pitchers who had become untouchable.
Technology has played a part in changes to the game as seen in the one piece helmet for catchers which has become the norm for catchers as opposed to the exception it once was. If you have ever seen a fielder's glove from the 1920's you can tell we've come along way in that department as well.
Some rules have been good, some have been bad and gotten rid of and others, well it's too soon to tell, but there is one rule change in one league, in particular that needs to be made or more appropriately abolished and that is the designated hitter. Adopted by the American League in 1973, it has been around long enough that its effects can been seen and measured and the verdict is in.
Here are the top 10 reasons why Major League Baseball should ban the designated hitter.
10 10. Unification
9 9. Increase in Offense
8 8. The Bunt, Hit and Run
Sabermetrics is here to stay and that's fine. It's there to help teams compete and win and is a natural evolution from the disparity in team financial realities, a discussion for a later date. The down side is that Sabermetrics has all but killed the bunt and the hit and run.
7 7. Specialists overload
Baseball and sports in general has become far too accepting of the "specialist". In baseball the specialist is seen in the left handed reliever that only comes into the game to get the one big left handed power hitter out with a lefty-lefty match up. Baseball also has the one inning closer that only appears in the 9th inning to protect a lead and secure a win. The designated hitter is just another specialist in a game with too many as it is.
6 6. Five Tool Player
5 5. Intimidation and Intrigue
Batters generally don't enter the batter's box these days without a layer of Kevlar to protect them so no matter how hard a pitcher throws it is difficult to intimidate with an inside pitch. The rare time a pitcher does want to keep batters honest and go inside, umpires and opposing managers will lose their minds and warnings and ejections usually follow, but what if a pitcher who wanted to go inside with a fastball on a hitter knew he had to bat the next half inning.
4 4. Strategy
3 3. Hiding a weakness
2 2. Statistics are thrown off
1 1. Opportunity for Greatness
Babe Ruth is considered one of the best players in the history of the game. His hitting prowess alone is worthy of such praise, but early in his career he was also a top flight pitcher. Everyone assumes that pitchers are lousy hitters, but young baseball players have to hit and pitch. No one is born a DH or a closer. Fans of the game want to see their favorite team win, but next to that they want to see great players making great plays and creating history. Removing the DH and requiring all pitchers to hit, increases the chances of possibly seeing a pitcher combine pitching greatness with batting exploits and accomplish something truly incredible that every fan can marvel over, like another Babe Ruth.
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