May 7, 2016.
The New York Mets are at Petco Park in San Diego taking on the Padres. Arguably the most unathletic pitcher to ever play the game Bartolo Colon steps into the box. On a 1-1 pitch from Padres starter James Shields, “Big Sexy” turns on a 90-mph fastball and flies into the first couple rows of the left field seats.
After 19 seasons without a home run, Colon has finally recorded a round-tripper. Because the National League does not allow a designated hitter, Colon was required to be placed in the nine-man batting order, and without it, we may never have witnessed one of the greatest regular season moments in recent history.
In Major League Baseball’s new 82 game proposal, it would allow a universal DH, continuing the attack on the uniqueness of professional baseball.
Baseball’s unique game has been under attacked in recent years with the implementation of manager challenges, limited mound visits, and soon, the amount of batters a reliever is required to face. The sport is great because it is different. In no other sport can you find a rule for exactly half of the league or human error have such a huge impact on the result. You do not see free throw rules for the Eastern Conference in the NBA. You do not see the AFC allowing an additional wide receiver eligible on the line of scrimmage. The game is completely different in the NL compared to the AL. When to use a pinch hitter or whats the bullpen look like if our starter doesn’t go five.
Sure, watching a pitcher go down on three pitches can be frustrating most times, but that is the beauty of the league. The new rules are taking the strategy right out of a manager. It is clear to me Commissioner Rob Manfred and the rest of MLB’s front office is focusing on entertaining rather than protecting the integrity of the game which results in America’s favorite past time becoming more and more like other professional sports.
As a fan that is what bothers me most. I love the spring and summer months because I get to watch a sport like no other. Yes, the fundamental aspects and core of the game are the same, but the more we tamper with rules and proposals the more we get away from the greatest chess match in the world.
If the 2020 MLB season does take place and the universal DH is implemented, we may never get to see another “Big Sexy” round the bases with the crowd in complete shock again.