Game On!…with Rob Kriete – FEBRUARY 17
While growing up on the wrong side of wealthy (not a complaint, I assure you), our motto at home was always “don’t pay for work you can do yourself.” This helped mold me into a de-facto plumber, electrician, mechanic, landscaper, and of course, a semi-professional housekeeper. Like Frank Sinatra, I feel as if I’ve been “a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king!”
Of course, there have been situations wherein an expert or a professional needed to be hired. Installing a new roof in the Florida weather was slightly beyond my scope of jack-of-all-trading, so I hired a roofer.
Last year was the very first MLB season wherein professional hitters (a.k.a. designated hitters) were employed in every game throughout the American and National Leagues. Pitchers in the NL have traditionally been given the ability to hit, keeping with the game’s tradition as it was invented. The AL has employed the DH since 1973.
As a self-proclaimed baseball purist or traditionalist, I have always preferred the NL game to maintain in-game strategy. Managing pitchers is more difficult in the NL while balancing pitcher effectiveness with their spot in the batting order. However, the DH in the AL has always been a respected difference between the two leagues. Having a defined bat in the lineup allowed some veteran players to extend their careers, and fans ultimately got to see more offense. Once MLB implemented interleague play in 1997, the charm of operating the two leagues with different rules seems unfair and inconsistent.
During the 60-game 2020 season, having a consistent designated hitter in both leagues finally brought consistency to the MLB rules. If given a choice, I would prefer that both leagues allow the pitchers to hit, but a consistent rule is of paramount importance to this baseball fan. Yet, despite owners, teams, players, and fans agreeing that they approve of the designated hitter in both leagues, it has become a bargaining chip somehow. As of this column, there will be no use of a universal designated hitter for the 2021 MLB season.
There were many new and tweaked rules for the 2020 season, and MLB has seemingly tossed aside the most popular one, a universal designated hitter. If MLB has any plans to return to being the “American pastime,” it must listen to its fans and implement consistent rules.
When I need a new roof, I hire a roofer. If MLB wants to honor their fans, they will employ professional hitters to replace their pitchers in the lineups. The universal designated hitter needs to be re-instituted for the 2021 season, and any excuses for it not happening lies with the commissioner and the league. When my teams take the field to get their game on this season, I want a professional hitter in place of a weak-hitting pitcher.
Be safe, everyone.