In 1973, the American League adopted the designated hitter into their league and baseball has suffered ever since. Sure, an extra “hitter” in every lineup adds to the run total on the scoreboard, but there’s a reason that baseball purists tend to hate the idea.
First of all, the strategy required of an American League manager is so much less than that of a National League manager it’s almost comical. Think about how many times a manager in the National League has to decide whether to insert a pinch hitter or let the pitcher hit so that he can stay on the mound the following inning. There are also times in a game where an NL manager has to decide whether or not to make a move like a double-switch.
In the American League, managers may have to make defensive replacements or pinch hitting decisions, but the implications of their decisions aren’t nearly as great. This isn’t aimed at taking away from managers in the AL; they have a difficult job overall as well. All this is saying is that the strategy required in the AL is far less when compared to the NL.
AL managers may have to decide whether or not to insert a pinch hitter for matchup’s sake, but their decision just takes a particular hitter out of the game. When an NL manager makes a decision like that, it determines what pitcher will be taking the mound in the next inning, which is half the battle in a baseball game.
Now that there’s so much inter league play in MLB nowadays, the designated hitter appears ready to spread to the NL as well. This would be a disaster for baseball as it’s getting away from its roots. What used to set baseball apart was that there were so many aspects that made it a “game within a game.” By adding the designated hitter to the NL, that would be gone for the most part.
If the issue is consistency across the two leagues, then MLBl should be taking the designated hitter away from the AL, not adding it to the NL. It’s understandable that having a designated hitter has extended several players’ careers by a couple years, but that doesn’t outweigh the fact that baseball needs to work at getting back to its origins.
This would result in more well-rounded players because many would have to learn how to actually play everywhere on a baseball field instead of only making their living in the batter’s box.
It’s clear that MLB isn’t going to adopt this proposition and it’s a mistake. Soon the designated hitter will be in both leagues and most major strategy will be taken out of the game. As baseball continues to make changes to improve ratings, they continue to sacrifice their past.
I’m all for baseball regaining popularity and competing with other sports for the nation’s attention, but not at the cost of the sport’s integrity.