Maybe it’s time
Those who know me know that I can be a bit stubborn about changing my mind — at least in important matters, like wives, children and the designated hitter. I have been a sworn enemy of that last thing for a good 50 years, but I may be on the edge of being converted.
The first shove in that direction was offered by David Ortiz, late of the Boston Red Sox. For years, I had regarded the DH as just an American League gimmick to make the game more offensive, a move to counter domination by pitchers in the 1960s. “Bah! Humbug!” said I. “Don’t mess with the purity of my treasured game.”
I had thought that DH’s could never be a central part of a team because they never took the field. They were the tinsel on a Christmas tree, not one of the boughs, or even one of the shining ornaments.
Big Papi, as his nickname makes clear, put the lie to all of that. He was the rock on which Boston built its history making teams of this century, changing the perception of Beantown baseball from a team full of lovable losers to the envy of the league.
While he was there, August and September became times to look forward to the post-season rather than to endure the agonies of waiting for the inevitable late summer collapse.
Not only did he become the spirit of the franchise, he became the genius of the city when he rallied everyone after the horrors of the Boston Marathon bombing in just the same way as he rallied this team after being down 3-0 to the hated Yankees.
The final shove may have come this year in the Mets opener when DH Yoenis Cespedes homered in his first game in two years. I think I am slowly coming to the conclusion that the game may be better off allowing for players who are detriments in the field but terror at the plate rather than insisting that pitchers, who probably get no more than 60 or 70 at bats a year, try to hold their own at the plate.
OK, it’s taken me a while, but I think I’m getting there. Now about the three point shot in basketball? Well that might take me another 20 years or so.
Millerton resident Theodore Kneeland is a retired teacher and coach — and athlete.