Last Update: 15 Aug 00
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Tell me what YOU think!
Here's an argument that has divided baseball fans ever since Ron Blomberg was the first player to step up to the plate with "DH" written next to his name on the lineup card. Should the DH be adopted in both major leagues or dropped?
I think that there is little question that it should be retained and used in both major leagues. The major advantage is obvious and well-documented: it gets a real hitter into the lineup in place of the pitcher. The major argument of DH opponents is that it "removes strategy from the game".
What "strategy" is being removed? Supposedly, it's the decision of whether or not to leave in the pitcher in the late innings of a game or take him out for a pinch-hitter. Yet, is there really any decision to be made in almost all of those circumstances?
Consider, you are the manager. Your team is behind 2-1 in the top of the 8th inning. You have a runner on 1st with one out and the pitcher is due up. The only decision to be made here is based solely on whether or not you trust your bullpen to keep the game close. If you have a decent reliever available, you pinch-hit. If not, you let your pitcher bunt the runner to 2nd and play for your lead-off man to get a clutch hit. There's no decision here. In reality, not having the DH means that either of those decisions is detrimental to your club. In the first instance, you take out your best pitcher. In the second, you give up a precious out late in the game. This is good?
Oh, yes, let's not forget that having the DH means that managers won't have the opportunity of making the infamous "double switch". This "strategy" means not only removing the pitcher, but also removing a starting player from the lineup and replacing him with a benchwarmer so that the new pitcher can bat in a different spot in the lineup. This isn't much of a brain strain on a manager, either. Do American League fans miss not seeing this "strategy"?
Nobody would argue that a baseball team consists of 9 men. However, the pitcher is not one among equals on the field. He is the one player whose presence or absence can most affect his team's performance. The only other players in any major team sport whose impact on his team is as important as the baseball pitcher would be the hockey goaltender and the football quarterback. There are special rules that apply to those players because of their importance. Baseball's DH rule is one of them. The pitcher's job is purely defensive in nature - as opposed to the rest of his team, who must contribute both in the field and at the plate. Why not let the pitcher do his job and have a real hitter substitute for him in the offensive role?
Unless, of course, it's more exciting and "strategic" to see a pitcher take feeble, fruitless cuts at mediocre fastballs and kill a promising rally.
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