THE DESIGNATED HITTER AND OTHER BAD TRIPS OF THE ’70s
As if we were trying to relive all of the worst parts of the 1970s in the 2020s, today is the first time since its founding 146 years ago that baseball’s National League will excuse pitchers from having to go to bat in regular league play.
Inflation, energy shortages, Russian invasions, cultural chaos, political failure, and, yes, the designated hitter rule: The ’70s are back, baby.
The American League, the kind of organization that would also tolerate short pants for players, introduced the non-hitting pitcher position in 1973 on the grounds that it would increase offensive production and revive flagging attendance and interest in the game. Sound familiar? For 49 years, the National League held out, only to cave this year on the grounds that it would mean more runs and more fans.