The discussion has come up and around again about initiating the Designated Hitter into the National League in Major League Baseball.
The rekindling of this debate has recently been spurred on due to National League player and perennial All-Star pitcher Adam Wainwright severely injuring his achilles tendon as he began his run out of the batter’s box after he had batted a pitched ball and put the ball in play.
Wainwright’s moment encapsulates the game of baseball very well: The pitcher pitches the ball; the batter hits the ball (if the ball then travels within the foul lines it remains in legal play); the fielding team then attempts to retrieve the ball in order to attempt to get the batter out; the batter, meanwhile, attempts to not get out by running as quickly as he can to first base in an effort to be safe.
This recent argument concerning the Designated Hitter revolves around removing the requirement for National League pitchers to bat, so if pitchers do manage to hit a pitched baseball and put it into legal play they would not have to run as quickly as they could to first base and if the pitchers did not have to do this they would not have any opportunity to injure themselves in the manner Mr. Wainwright has.
If we stay only with this argument we would then have to include every player on each team who ultimately does come up to bat within the course of a baseball game within the pool of potentially injured players over the consistent requirement of having to run to first base.
If the intent is to eliminate or reduce as much as we can injuries to players caused by running to first base, options for solutions are somewhat limited:
1) Designated Runners can be assigned to each batter in order to preserve the health of the batter while only risking the well-being and career of the Designated Runner.
2) Move the decision whether or not the batter who hit the ball into play will be safe at first base to the judgement of the umpire who is already positioned at first base, successfully eliminating the need for any player ever placing themselves at risk by running to first base.
3) Cease playing baseball altogether, evaporating any player running the base paths, chasing down fly balls, sprinting for ground balls, stealing second base or sprinting home on a single to center field, successfully keeping all baseball players healthy and able to enjoy their lives to the fullest extent in the manner they deserve earning the salaries they do from the careers as professional baseball players.
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