Interleague play is thankfully over for the season, and despite the joy of watching and hoping the Mets can at least split with the Yankees, I’m still not nuts about it, because it only reinforces what I don’t like about baseball every time these games are played in an American League park.
You may feel free to call me a curmudgeon, outdated, or whatnot on the AL. I freely admit that right now, the junior circuit has a better spate of teams and contending teams. I mean, I’m subject to watching baseball in an NL West market. I understand just how lousy the NL is right now. But that doesn’t change my opinion or belief that the designated hitter rule is crap. Unfortunately, it’s way too late for it to be completely shucked, because offensive numbers are everything in American sports coverage, and after 30+ years, this genie ain’t going back in the bottle.
My objection seems even more justified after watching guys who never, ever hit, like C.C. Sabathia and Felix Hernandez, tee off for homers against decent pitchers (Hernandez got his grand slam against Johan Santana; Sabathia knocked his off Chan Ho Park, and while he’s past his time, the Dodgers are not losing because of their pitching.) ) and regularly watch guys like Carlos Zambrano, Jaosn Marquis, Micah Owings, et al be more than useful at the plate, in direct contrast to the usual image of the pitcher who merely bunts, weakly grounds out, or whiffs every time he steps up to the plate. Yeah, NL pitchers hit .145 as a group, but there’s a bigger issue.
I’d like to keep as many sports as possible where all the players on the line-up have to serve both offensive and defensive functions. Football, by its physical nature and specialization, hasn’t been that for decades. Basketball is the only sport that really has that in full. Soccer and hockey both have the goalkeeper, who can get the offense started with the the proper pass and save.
Essentially, our sports are becoming even more specialized. And while that’s useful, it’s kind of boring. I remember watching my high school’s baseball team, and some of the best athletes on that team were pitchers who would go play in the field in the next game and hit as well. Now, the college level and minor leagues have the DH, where guys drafted as pitchers tend to rot.
On the other side, it’s a little less tough, but still hard, to see the super DH who can hit a ton but couldn’t field a position at all, or the NL player go to the DH on an AL team after his body gives out in the field.
Yeah, I’m behind the times and this won’t change, but oh well.
Photo: AP/Reed Saxon