How the Designated Hitter in Baseball Fits the Cultural Fabric of America

Winston Churchill once purportedly said, “Never stand up when you can sit.” Presumably, Winnie wasn’t much of a fan of physical activity. However, he might have been enamored with the concept of a designated hitter had he been alive to see its inclusion in the game of baseball. Then, again, the only political leader that ever swung a big stick was Teddy Roosevelt, so who knows?

Imagine getting to work at the usual time of nine in the morning — the exception being fishmongers and sports writers — then sitting at your desk at for the next six to seven hours, waiting and watching. Most of your day would be filled with idle chatter, occasional trips to the bathroom, and frequent bouts of impulsive eating (in other words, a normal day). Then, just when you thought it would be safe to nod off, your boss hollers at you to get your rear in gear and be productive for a 3-minute span and actually do some work. The preceding has been a far-flung, daily life metaphor for Major League Baseball Rule 6.10. The designated hitter, also known in some circles as the designated sitter, or the human bat rack.

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Josh Beckett the Latest of Many Pitchers to Hurt Themselves While Swinging

In MLB, there is one main difference between the American League and the National League. In the AL, designated hitters are allowed but in the NL they’re not. That means pitchers don’t have to bat in the AL so their only job is to pitch. In the NL, more is asked of the pitchers because they have to bat too. Does the AL have it right? Should pitchers only be concerned about throwing the ball and not hitting it?

This idea has been debated for years and has been sparked by the injury to Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett who was placed on the DL because of a back injury. Beckett of course hurt his back while swinging in preparation for interleague play where he’d be forced to hit. Now if this isn’t downright pathetic, I’m not quite sure what is. When you play baseball at a professional level, you should have a certain level of athleticism. Unfortunately Beckett isn’t the only pitcher who’s been hurt swinging a bat (or trying to) over the last few years. Let’s take a look at some of the pitchers who need to stay on the mound and out of the batter’s box:

American League

1. Josh Beckett, Boston Red Sox – Beckett injured himself before the start of May 10th’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays by taking practice swings. Let’s examine this a little more closely shall we? Beckett was swinging the bat before a game against who? The Blue Jays? Ah, another American League team that he doesn’t have to hit against anyways. This makes my head hurt. The Red Sox said this was because the pitchers are getting ready for interleague play. The Red Sox’s first interleague game is on Sunday at Philadelphia. So, Beckett was practice swinging for a game that was 13 days away at that point? And now he’s on the DL. That is just plain dumb.

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