Muscle Sport Magazine

Baseball Moves Further Away From Traditions

Wikipedia Commons/Labeled For Reuse

The lockout is over and we should all rejoice that baseball will be back and a full 162-game schedule will be played after all; it appeared dim for that at one point during the negotiations. So it would be an unpopular stance to bring any criticism into the picture, but, hey, that’s how we operate. The universal designated hitter will be officially adopted permanently this season (it was in place during the Covid-shortened 60-game campaign in 2020) and in 2023, interleague play will result in every team playing each and every one of the other 29, not just a rotating division and ‘rivalry’ series.

While some may say that this is a positive and forward-thinking move by Major League Baseball, it is also one that takes away some of the quant and legendary aspects of what made baseball unique from the other sports. Having two very different leagues within the league was special and ever since interleague play was adopted in 1997, that has been chipped away at.

It used to be a very interesting occasion when an American League team played its National League counterpart, even if it was an exhibition game held during spring training or a one-off event such as the Mayor’s Trophy Game, an annual ritual in New York that pitted the Yankees versus the Mets; no one was ever able to convince George Steinbrenner this was a meaningless game, even during the Bronx Bombers strong years and the Mets lean period.

It also made the All-Star Game a much better spectacle. Fans can finally see the likes of Ron Guidry pitch against Dave Parker. So by the time the World Series came around, fans and players alike were chomping at the bit to get a shot against an opponent rarely seen.

The ‘junior circuit’ adopted the DH in 1973 and it instantly forged an even deeper divide between the AL and NL, with the former known more for power hitters and the latter pitching and defense. And in the old days, pitchers were not the automatic outs they would eventually become; Don Drysdale of the Los Angeles Dodgers hit 29 home runs over his career for an example.

The NL was also known for its shrewd managerial decisions with not only pitchers helping themselves by being able to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but also when to pinch hit for him and the double switch to rearrange the batting order so that ninth spot doesn’t come up again soon. It was a game within the game, if you will, for these skippers. Now all of that is gone.

Baseball is sacred and there’s a reason why it is known as Our National Pastime. Don’t change perfection when you have it, but that has already been done. The only way that this can become an even worse situation is if they do a complete realignment and mix the teams in the leagues. Hopefully, that will not happen.

Play ball.

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