Many people have that one thing they know an absurd amount about for no reason but could go on and on advocating for it forever. There are tons of things to be passionate about, and one of mine happens to be baseball. Growing in a household where being an avid Major League Baseball fan is a must, my love for the game has inevitably been a constant in my life.
In 1972, the MLB club owners decided that baseball wasn't keeping the fans' interest because there wasn't enough action or runs being scored. The American League owners did something about this by creating the Designated Hitter as a new position: a player that would bat instead of the pitcher, but not play the field. At the time, they thought this would be a short-lived experiment, but the Designated Hitter, or DH, is still prevalent in the American League almost 50 years later.
Now that baseball is going through a similar crisis, with commissioner Rob Manfred concerned that baseball is losing its popularity especially amongst younger audiences, there is talk about bringing the Designated Hitter to the National League as well. Any baseball fan can tell you that there is no middle ground when it comes to the debate of the DH. You either love it and are most likely a fan of an American League team, or the baseball purist in you hates it and believes that American League fans are missing out on one of the most beautiful aspects of the game.
Many rules have been tweaked and added to speed up the game in recent years by commissioner Manfred, in hopes of making baseball once again appealing to a younger demographic and combat the notion that baseball is dying. People argue that bringing the Designated Hitter to the National League would create more offense, making the game more appealing. Additionally, they argue that it's logical to create uniformity between leagues.
I hold an unpopular opinion, especially for people my age who don't think of baseball in the same historical context as those of older generations, that the DH takes away from integral parts of the game. I'd even go as far as to say that if uniform inter-league rules are what they want, then they should get rid of the DH altogether.
This is, of course, unrealistic, because the players' union would never allow it. Keeping the Designated Hitter as a position creates more jobs because as players get older and can't play the field as well, they can become a DH, therefore holding value to American League teams. Eliminating pitchers batting also supposedly limits their risk of injury, but with the amount of Tommy John surgery we see nowadays and the immense strain these pitchers put on their arms from such a young age, batting injuries seem to be the least of their worries.
There is a whole strategic dynamic to baseball that would be eliminated along with the removal of pitchers batting. Having the pitcher in the batting order makes managing more difficult for sure, creating the twists and turns that make the game so interesting. Does the offensive manager take the pitcher that's due up out of the game to replace him with a pinch hitter? Does the team in the field leave their pitcher in for one more batter knowing the pitcher is up next? Is the lineup created around having the pitcher batting eighth or ninth? I am not gonna argue with my friends who think that baseball is boring, because on a surface level I can understand where they're coming from. But it's these intricacies that only baseball lovers understand that make the game so fascinating to me.
On top of that, it's not as simple as just saying, "OK, we're adding a DH to the national league starting NOW." National League teams would need to build their rosters around the extra position of a DH like the American League clubs have been doing for many years.
As a traditionalist, I don't see how you can tell me that adding one more power hitting player into National League lineups is going to magically make more people interested in baseball. If one doesn't have the attention span to watch a pitcher strike out or ground into a double play, they certainly aren't going to be able to sit through a baseball game as a whole. If anything, it's the history and tradition of baseball that will keep it alive. Baseball is America's pastime, and we should not be changing the game from the way it was meant to be played.