Picture this…the eighth place hitter just doubled in the bottom of the ninth with one out and the game tied at two. Next batter? Not the pitcher. Not a pinch hitter. Not the man who took over the ninth spot in the order when he went in as part of a double switch. Simply, the ninth place hitter that day. What’s going on? It seems a designated hitter has been inserted into the lineup and the ninth spot no longer belongs to the man on the mound.
How would this change the game as we know it? It already exists in the AL, but how would we NL fans respond to this?
As a paying spectator, when I go to a game, I want to see real baseball played. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel that National League Baseball is much more exciting and rewarding than the American League . In fact, except for the chance to beat the Yankees and own this city, I couldn’t care less about inter-league play.
Speaking of inter-league play, consider this year’s Subway Series, Bronx Version. Every time the camera showed Joe Torre, he was sitting back, relaxing, barely even facing towards home plate. And where was Willie Randolph? One foot on the top step of the dugout, watching every pitch, and analyzing every play that transpired on the field. (Might I also add, cheering on his ball club.)
I like a manager who gets involved in the game, one who realizes that it’s not just about the nine guys on the field. It just seems like American League skippers are lacking something – either the skills or the opportunities – causing the game to be, well, dull. Okay, maybe there is more offensive power in the AL, but how about some good old-fashioned baseball, including letting the pitcher hit!!
If you think about it, the only things AL managers really have to decide is, “Who’s playing today?” and “How long do I let one stinky pitcher go before replacing him with another one?” Once the lineup cards are submitted and any pitching changes have taken place, an AL manager’s job for the day is pretty much done, leaving only the occasional pep talk, reprimand, or “congratulations” to be performed.
I want to see the Great American Pastime the way it was meant to be played, and the expert managing of it. I want to see a pitcher forced to come out of a game prematurely, even though he is pitching well, because more offense is needed to take the lead or win the game. I want to see a pitcher come up to bat with a runner on second and less than two outs, and lay down a sacrifice bunt, so that a fly ball will then score a run. I want to see Manager A put up a left-handed pinch hitter, so that Manager B can bring in a left-handed pitcher, so that Manager A can then put up a right-handed hitter. (Whew!) Waste of players, yes, but the mind games are outrageously awesome to watch, not to mention totally acceptable.
Fundamentals. Execution. Run-manufacturing. Strategic shot-calling. Situational hitting and pitching. Opportunities that do not come often in the AL, unless playing an inter-league away game. So, Mets fans, when people tell you that the Yankees have it tougher because they are in a “harder” league, just ask them, “What has your MANAGER done lately?”
One final thought: To any and everone at Major League Baseball, please don’t bring the DH to the NL. Designating is for driving, not hitting.