Despite its flaws, baseball still great pasttime

Published 11:21 pm Saturday, July 9, 2011

It looks like Charlie Brown has a chance to win Manager of the Year.

How can this happen, that the beloved “Peanuts” comic strip character with thousands of losses and no wins can win such an award? He got a job as an American League manager.

The argument of whether baseball should keep the designated hitter, abolish it, adopt it in both leagues or leave this as status quo always pops up during inter-league play or around the All-Star Game or World Series.

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There are a lot of elements to the game of baseball. There is pitching — the most important — hitting, fielding — the most overlooked — speed and strategy.

In the American League, managers just fill out a lineup card and sit back and wait until it looks like they need to change pitchers. You could let the catcher do that.

If Justin Verlander is on the mound, you can turn in the lineup card to the home plate umpire before the game and go take a nap or grab an early dinner.

It’s baseball with cruise control.

The purists don’t like the DH while others argue it’s no fun to watch a pitcher bat. Well, that’s baseball’s fault.

Most pitchers were one of, if not the best, player on their high school team and often the best hitter. Not being able to hit most of the time is because they do not work at it once they exit high school. Their only focus is pitching and no one even expects them to take batting practice.

In fact, if they do take batting practice the position players yell at them to get out of the batting cage so they can hit.

I’m not a big fan of inter-league play. I can take it or leave it. I’d rather see the Cincinnati Reds play the Los Angeles Dodgers more than six times a year than play the Kansas City Royals even once.

I definitely don’t want to see baseball go through with its plan to have two 15-team leagues and have inter-league play all the time, much like the NBA and NFL. But if it has a chance to weaken the game for the fans, it’ll probably happen. After all, we use an exhibition game to determine home field advantage for the sport’s championship series.

Baseball really is a great game. I know some people say the games take too long. Baseball games are around three hours long, much like NFL games that last well past three hours.

Fans argue that NFL games have more action than baseball. Yeah, fans love watching players stand around after touchdowns and kickoffs and punts and whatever else for several minutes at a time. You score a touchdown, then go to a commercial. Come back and kick off, then go to another commercial.

All games are what they are. They are good games in their own right. You can’t compare one sport to the other. They are all different in how they are played, so don’t try to make them the same.

Heck, with the designated hitter, not even baseball’s two leagues are the same.

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.