Baseball

MLB: Why the Designated Hitter Is an Absolute Waste of Time

ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 25:  Designated hitter Hideki Matsui #55 of the Oakland Athletics against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on May 25, 2011 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Andrew DunnCorrespondent IIJune 26, 2011

Common knowledge: We all have our favorite baseball team.  I have found that, living in Cincinnati and being a Reds fan, Chicago Cubs fans are very loyal, as half of Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati is often blue when the Cubs and Reds play each other.

However, that's a side note; I'm here to discuss the American League.  The simple fact is that the designated hitter, which has been used in the AL for so long, makes the game fake.

Call me a cynic of the American League if you wish, but please hear the argument.  One of the main things I love about watching baseball is the strategy of it all—when is it smart to pinch hit?  Perhaps when to double switch?  Playing the lefty-lefty match, even if the pitcher only throws to a single batter. 

American League teams see none of this unless they play in a National League ballpark (okay, so Seattle Mariners fans saw the pitchers bat thanks to U2).  This issue was brought to life on June 15, 2008, when then-Yankee pitcher Chien-Ming Wang tore a ligament in his foot sliding into home plate. 

Following this game in Houston, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner commented that the NL's system was "old and out of date" and that they need to "get with the times."  While I don't doubt Steinbrenner's knowledge and his greatness until his death in 2010, this was one thing he was wrong about.

American League baseball is a game that has no strategy.  I do occasionally see pinch-hitters, defensive substitutions, etc., but that is nowhere near the same.  When you look at American League games, two lineups are tossed up at the beginning, and there's often no change to them.

Let's take a look at the National League—the pitcher's spot can always be an X-factor.  If the game is tied 1-1 in the seventh inning, and an NL pitcher that is still pitching well steps to the plate with two outs and runners on second and third base—what do you do?  This is part of the game that American League fans miss out on, and managers don't have to mess with.

Does it make the game easier?  Well, of course.  However, the National League system is the correct way to go. 

Sports and games of all kinds are worthless without a little bit of strategy.  Mixing things up adds some spice to the game, and I say the designated hitter needs to go.  The MLB collective-bargaining agreement ends in December—perhaps that can be a key issue in those discussions.

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