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There’s nothing better than pitchers batting

I tend not to enjoy arguments about religion, but once in a while you have to go there:

It’s a real shame that so many American League pitchers have been denied a chance to hit. As much as A’s fans enjoyed the pure athletic ability of Vida Blue, Mike Norris, Rick Langford and Dave Stewart over the years, they could have seen so much more. Given a reason to work on their hitting, they all would have responded professionally. Or maybe not, in a case or two. You learn something there, too.

“But it’s an age of specialization,” people say. On what basis? There are no designated runners or fielders. Specialization is an NFL team employing different defensive units on four consecutive plays. Specialization was forced upon the American League when the DH arrived in 1973, but it never was warranted. Without question, we’ve witnessed golden DH moments from the likes of Tony Oliva, Orlando Cepeda, Harold Baines, Edgar Martinez, David Ortiz, but I invariably ask myself, why? In what brand of league does a player not bat for himself? Have we become a generation of elitist pipe-smokers, outraged at the sight of an athlete’s vulnerability? “Fetch me my Thoreau, Jeeves. Barry Zito is batting.”

The “different set of rules” argument gets tiresome, as well. Thank goodness the National League has a traditional set of rules, and the disparity doesn’t harm the game in the slightest. It’s still the same game. Different rules would be three balls for a walk, or you start out by running to third.

I’ll come out and admit that I’m a National League guy and I hate the DH. Like Bruce Jenkins in this article, however, my dislike of the DH is not necessarily about being a traditionalist, the beauty of the double switch or the strategy or any of that. As history has shown, most managers overthink that crap anyway and all of that switching tends to bring the game to a grinding halt.

No, I’ll just come out and admit it: I like to see pitchers hit. I know that’s usually the first attack against the NL setup -- Pitchers are feeble! It’s horrid to watch them flail! -- but to me it truly is an aesthetic plus. Seeing an overmatched pitcher trying to hit is the closest thing we can get to seeing what it’s like for schmos like us to hit. True, most of the time they fail, but when they succeed, I am thrilled for them and feel strangely vindicated. And even if they do fail, it just makes you appreciate how good even the eighth best batter in a given lineup truly is.

If I had to guess, I’d say that the AL is more popular than the NL, and that because of it there are more DH fans than not. And I’ll even grant that my rationale for getting rid of the DH -- pitchers batting is beautiful, baby -- is pretty far out there. But like I said in the beginning, this is really a religious argument.

And like all other religious arguments, understand: once you realize how irrational and wrong you are, and how right I am, the quicker we’ll have peace.

(link via BTF)