The Universal Designated Hitter
I read this article today. It talks about how there probably won’t be a universal designated hitter in baseball in 2021, but it will be here in the near future because that is one of the few things the players and the owners agree about. I hate the universal DH, and if I’m going to start a movement to keep it out of baseball, I thought I should explain why.
Before I start, I want to say that it is not because I’m a grumpy old man, nor is it because I’m a traditionalist. The American League adopted the DH before I was even born. I’ve never known baseball without it. And I’m a Red Sox (@RedSox) fan. I’ve rooted for DHs for years and I love David Ortiz (@davidortiz). I think Edgar Martinez (@11EdgarMartinez) absolutely belongs in the Hall of Fame. There are two reasons to keep the DH out of the National League, though.
First, it’s the last thing left that differentiates the American League from the National League. People don’t talk about that enough. The leagues should be different. That’s a big part of what makes the World Series special. And it’s doubly true with the advent of interleague play. Slightly different rules means that American and National League rosters are constructed differently. Seeing the different styles go head to head is interesting and entertaining.
(This is off topic, but I’ve always thought they should flip the rules for interleague games. If the game is played at the American League stadium, don’t use the DH, but use it in the National League stadium. The interest of interleague play is that you get to see teams that you aren’t used to. The people of Seattle (@Mariners) got to see Edgar Martinez (@11EdgarMartinez) do his thing every day. On those rare trips to Pittsburgh, Pirates (@Pirates) fans should have been able to see it, too.)
The second reason to keep the DH out of the National League is the more important reason. Pitcher hits are awesome. Pitchers are not typically good hitters, but when they get hits, it’s great. And when they hit home runs, it’s magical. Just seeing the grin on the face of this grown man wearing a warm-up jacket on second base should lift anyone’s spirits. But seeing them get as excited as a twelve-year old with a homer is positively heartwarming. Madison Bumgarner has hit two home runs off of Clayton Kershaw (@ClaytonKersh22). MadBum’s a great pitcher, but I had more fun watching those two hits than any of his pitching performances.
What it boils down to is that pitchers hitting makes baseball more entertaining, and that should be the point. A universal DH would suck some of the fun out of the game. Frankly, I don’t want to live in a world where there isn’t at least the possibility that Bartolo Colon could hit a home run. We tried it in 2020, and like everything else in 2020, it made me sad.