The NL doesn’t need the Designated Hitter

Reports today suggest the National League are going to introduce the Designated Hitter rule from the beginning of the 2017 season . When it finally happens the National League will be worse off.

JonLesterHitting

Jon Lester’s quest for a hit captivated baseball fans.

It’s one of the most controversial rules in baseball. Should the pitcher hit, does it devalue the game, does the DH rule offer guys like David Ortiz a longer (and more successful) major league career than they would otherwise have?

There are many questions about the National League and their decision to have avoided the DH rule and it’s a decision that splits fans.

The pitcher hitting changes the game. Pitchers approach their starts differently, small ball is more important, managers are forced to manage the game on a deeper level and in extreme cases, Bartolo Colon does Bartolo Colon things.

At its core baseball is more a narrative than it is a game. Much like a good book, every chapter ebbs and flows and each small decision can lead to dire consequences or unbridled success.

To remove the designated hitter is to remove part of the theatre that makes baseball such a perfect metaphor for life – a series of decisions where the primary goal is to get ahead and stay there.

There’s the suggestion that allowing the pitcher to hit creates an easy out. If that’s the sole argument of someone who wants the DH they need to consider the following…

Clayton Kershaw’s Opening Day win in 2013 wouldn’t have been as good if he didn’t hit a solo Home Run to give his side the lead, the legend that is being built by Madison Bumgarner wouldn’t be the same if he was only as productive on one side of the ball. What about the 2007 World Series? Daisuke Matsuzaka got his first ever professional hit and drove in a run in a big spot. These moments are gone when the DH comes to the National League.

The above examples are blips on the radar, but that’s what makes them so special. If baseball had storybook endings every night the audience would be diminished. Fans love the unusual and baseball is the perfect laboratory for the insane.

On of the most underrated parts of the Designated Hitter rule comes into play years, if not decades before a pitcher ever sets foot inside the batters box as a professional. The possibility of being drafted by (or signing for) a National League organisation means that young pitchers are going to need to have their hitting somewhat honed in their formative years.

The lack of Designated Hitter shows the importance of balance, not only on the diamond but off it. You might not be able to be the greatest at everything but it’s vital to have a range of applicable skills.

It might seem peculiar but pitchers hitting adds purity to the game. To remove it changes not only the game, but the course of history.

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Crystal ball – Five 2016 sporting predictions

It’s easy to look back at the end of the year and think about the predictions that should have been made in the world of sport. Here are five headlines you will see in 2016.

Foxes secure Champions League berth – Leicester City’s hot start to the season has shocked the most seasoned of football experts. What they have shown is that chemistry, not money is crucial to success. Jamie Vardy has 2016demonstrated why he might be the most important player in the league and his calmness under pressure will be crucial in the second half of the season. Leicester have never finished higher than eighth in the Premier League so the scene is set for them to rewrite history.

Warriors create history – Will they, won’t they? Will they, won’t they? They will. The 95-96 Bulls record will be no longer at the end of the season. The Warriors are 29-2 at the time of writing and the Bulls were 25-3 on the same date in 1996. When every player who is currently active in the NBA has retired Steph Curry is going to be the best of the lot and it is this dominance that is going to help lead the Warriors to single digit losses.

CUBS ARE WORLD CHAMPIONS – The last time the Cubs won the World Series the toaster hadn’t been invented, the Titanic was years from sinking and the Fitzroy Football Club were the powerhouse of the VFL. A lot has changed in 108 years (although I wouldn’t object to a return of the Roy Boys) but Cubs fans still wait. A better than expected 2015 saw the Cubs reach the NLCS before being swept by the Mets. The addition of John Lackey and Jason Heyward to a club who are a year more experienced makes them favourites for the N.L Central. The Royals showed in 2014 that playoff experience will help the second time around and for Cubs fans this means one thing – sweet sweet relief.

Awesome foursome – Saturday the first of October 2016 marks the day that the Hawthorn Football Club will become the greatest VFL/AFL team I’ve seen in my life. At the moment that is a mantle that belongs to Brisbane but a fourth straight flag to the men in Brown and Gold signifies a changing of the guard. Nobody has exploited Hawthorn and there isn’t an area of the game where they are noticeably lagging behind their opponents. They know when they need to win and they know how to force themselves into a winning position. No wonder they’re a happy team at Hawthorn.

Boomers win first Olympic medal –  It’s the same old story every four years for Australian basketball. The Boomers should win an Olympic medal, they lose a game they shouldn’t and fall into the wrong side of the draw. Three 4th place finishes (1988, 1996, 2000) later and it feels like the Boomers are ready. NBA champions, high draft picks and dominant domestic players will make up what is likely to be the most experienced team Australia have ever seen. The spotlight has shone on this playing group for the last decade in varying forms and they are going to use it to their advantage. A team that is likely to feature two number one draft picks is going to be in the conversation as the games enter their final weekend. More importantly one of the most frustrating streaks in Australian sport is about to be broken.