TV host Mike Rowe, who you may know from shows such as Dirty Jobs and Deadliest Catch, responded to a fan named Bart’s question on Facebook about the DH. The fan asked, “Mike, a group of us that appreciate your entertainment and the way you think have a pressing question. Do you favor getting rid of the designated hitter in major league baseball?”
Rowe starts off by writing, “A great baseball player should be able to hit, run, throw, and play his position competently. His “greatness” is therefor a reflection of a collection of skills – not the singular talent of a one-trick-pony.” He goes on, asking proponents of the DH, “The better question – to those who insist on keeping this travesty in place – is why not expand it?”
This is where Rowe’s argument gets funny, yet poignant. Rowe wonders if we have hitters designated to bat for other, less competent hitters, why not expand it completely? And have designated players in other facets of the game? He continues:
Nine excellent fielders, completely unburdened by the pressure of swinging a bat. And nine excellent batters, who never have to wear a glove or stand around waiting for someone to hit a ball in their general direction. All playing for the same team! But why stop there?
Why not allow designated sprinters to stand right next to designated hitters, and run the bases in their place? That would be so much more exciting than a pinch runner. And how about designated throwers? Seems fair, given the problem of excellent fielders with great hand-eye coordination but weak arms. For that matter, should we really expect pitchers to throw fastballs as well as sliders? Screwballs as well as change-ups? I mean, is it really reasonable to expect a Cy Young winner to have a knuckleball as well as a breaking ball?
Why not put four designated pitchers on the mound at the same time, and allow each one of them to focus only on their favorite pitch? Think how much better each team would be, if the field were filled with 30 specialists instead of nine generalists!!
Of course – if that happens, we’ll need to get some designated fans as well. This way, when former fans leave in disgust after the first inning, thousands of surrogates could take their place – kind of like those human seat fillers they use at the Oscars. That way, the designated players won’t feel sad when they look up and see an empty stadium. And the designated mascot will have some people to inspire.
To answer your question, Bart – no, I’m not a fan.
The DH war rages on…