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George Will and the Designated Hitter

November 08, 1986

What, columnist George Will (Editorial Pages, Oct. 23) espousing the designated-hitter rule for baseball! I should think it more likely Will would become the ideological apologist for the Soviet Politburo.

Will now embraces the asinine DH because a never-at-bat American League pitcher, Boston's Bruce Hurst, was so inept at the plate that he provoked a laugh from the umpire (National League, no doubt) in the first game of the World Series.

Will argues that the DH now has "tradition" on its side because it has been around (in the American League) for so long. So, too, have socialism, pornography and arms control. I've yet to witness Will embracing those matters.

George confesses that he has no response to the "logical" argument against the DH, that baseball has but nine players--a square of the perfect, pastoral 3, and not 10 players--a crushing binary notion.

Will then commits the ultimate forensic atrocity against the Grand Game when he poses his "intellectual" argument for the DH. Will counters the strategy claim for the pitcher-as-batter by arguing that pitchers only go through the motions at bat anyway.

Will must be mistaking National League pitchers in general for the entire Cubs roster this past season. Set aside the fact that most pitchers can bunt, some hit in the respectable mid-.200s and a few can park one in the bleachers. The pitcher as batter potential is what flavors a game--when to pull a starter, pitching around the eighth batter, etc. With the DH, all these subtleties are lost to a batting order that is overweight in the middle with washed up, old, former outfielders who can hit a "tater" once in a blue moon and otherwise strike out with the regularity of, well, National League pitchers

Meanwhile, power starting pitchers who should give way to scrappy relievers remain in close contests to the ultimate degradation of the game.

George should be ashamed of himself.

GARY W. SCHONS

San Diego

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