BALTIMORE – You either love it or you hate it.
You think it’s one of the best things to happen to baseball. Or you think it’s the biggest travesty ever perpetrated on the game.
This is what happens when fans discuss the designated hitter: They tend to deal in absolutes.
But with the Houston Astros moving to the American League and interleague play happening almost every day – the Los Angeles Dodgers visited Camden Yards this weekend for three games against the Orioles – it’s time for another look at the DH. I say that because there’s renewed talk that the DH could be adopted by the National League as early as 2015, so both leagues would play by the same rules. To which I say: It’s about time.
Look, if you like seeing pitchers trudging to the plate and waving futilely at a few fastballs before striking out and skulking back to the dugout, knock yourself out.
I can’t stand it.
The so-called “baseball purists” are always yakking about how much “strategy” is involved in the National League, with its emphasis on small ball and managers making double switches and all the rest.
Please. I’ll take some big, hulking DH with forearms like Popeye smacking a three-run homer over “strategy” every time.
I could go on and on about the merits of the DH, which has been around since 1973.
It adds more offense to the game and makes it more exciting. It extends the careers of sluggers who can’t play the field anymore but can still wow us with tape-measure shots.
But, most of all, it keeps pitchers from picking up a bat and wasting everybody’s time.
Have you ever seen, say, Tommy Hunter hit? It’s not a pretty sight.
The Orioles I spoke to the other day were divided in their feelings about the possibility of the N.L. adopting the DH.
“I like the fact it’s in one league and not the other,” Chris Davis said. “I think it makes the World Series a little more interesting.”
But J.J. Hardy, who played for the Milwaukee Brewers and Minnesota Twins before coming to Baltimore, said he likes the A.L. better expressly because of the DH.
“I think there are better lineups,” the shortstop said. “I don’t think there’s that weak spot in the lineup. You got nine hitters up there…”
I rest my case.