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It's time to ban the DH in baseball

By Tyler Clifton tclifton@marshallnewsmessenger.com
Sept. 5, 2011 at 10 p.m.


It's a shame the final month of the regular season and the few pennant races remaining in Major League Baseball are being overshadowed.

There has been some bad baseball being played, and the past few days haven't gotten the month of September off on a solid note.

The Chicago White Sox went from still having a chance to win the American League Central to their season basically being done after blowing an 8-1 lead in the fifth inning in Detroit against the Tigers.

American League baseball isn't as much fun to watch as its National League counterpart, and the designated hitter should be banned upon season's end. If a guy is unable to play defense, then he shouldn't be allowed to compete simply because he can swing a bat, and it makes the game on the junior circuit even less appealing.

Yes, home runs are more fun to watch than a pitcher coming to the plate every ninth batter, but the strategy involved in the National League is the way the game was meant to be played. If a team's pitcher is having a good game but is scheduled to hit with a one-run lead, it makes the manager earn his paycheck. Do you keep him in the game or do you pinch hit for him?

There's none of this in the American League, where it's nine guys across the board, and the pitcher goes as long as he can. The stolen base, which used to be an exciting part of the game, is slowly becoming an afterthought when it comes to strategic purposes.

There have been plenty of players whose careers have been extended due to being designated hitters, and the Jim Thomes and David Ortizs of the world were fun to watch, but their inability to play in the field is a black mark on a game which was invented by Abner Doubleday to use a bat AND a glove.

As much as the Major League Baseball brass complains about how long it takes a game to be played, there are some obvious ways to fix the situation, but until then, the games must go on, yet the 3 ½ hours it took Baltimore and New York to score 21 runs wasn't terribly long.

The quartet of New York, Boston, Detroit and Texas (who would compete in the playoffs if they were held today) win games more often than not with powerful lineups and decent pitching. On the flip side, the foursome of Philadelphia, Atlanta, Milwaukee and Arizona do so with top-of-the-line pitching and a batting order which gives them enough runs more often than not.

Boston went into extra innings Monday in a scoreless tie with Toronto, and although it may be a little too far to the opposite extreme, it still seems like a more exciting game in comparison.

Ask the Red Sox how backbreaking it will be if they lose Josh Beckett for the playoffs despite their powerful lineup with the likes of Most Valuable Player candidates Adrian Gonzalez, Jacoby Ellsbury along with second baseman Dustin Pedroia and third baseman Kevin Youkilis. They would be the first to tell you how devastating losing their ace starting pitcher would be.

The Texas Rangers often lived by trying to outscore their opponents by stockpiling their batting order but recently realized it takes pitching to reach a World Series.

They're still trying to hold off the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for one of the four coveted playoff spots with one head-to-head series remaining at the end of the month.

The Rangers and manager Ron Washington like to run the bases, and here's hoping the final three games mean something and have some quality pitching and a little strategy to go along with them despite being American League baseball.

<em>- E-mail: tclifton@marshallnewsmessenger.com</em>

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