Earth Day Baseball Style

Is it just me or does it seem like the whole world has suddenly gone crazy for environmental consciousness all of a sudden? We’ve been warned about global warming for the past 20 years and environmental groups such as Green Peace and The Nature Conservancy have been around for around 50 years. It used to be that those groups were thought of as splinter groups that in no way represented the mainstream of society. Lately though that has changed and you can’t go anywhere without someone uttering the phrase “carbon footprint” or somehow measuring the environmental costs of a policy decision. At first I blamed Al Gore. Since inventing the Internet then losing the presidency Mr. Gore has become spokesman for the planet making appearances, writing books, and now making a movie about the dangers our environment faces. I have to give the guy credit. He has at least found something to do since losing his government job. I just wish he would have put his powers to work for good instead of evil. Don’t get me wrong, I think protecting the planet is great and everyone should do their part. It is just that we have other issues that are even more pressing that deserves our full attention.

I’m talking of course about baseball. During Spring Training 1969 Oakland Athletics owner Charlie Finley used the designated hitter to spare his pitchers from having to hit. Based upon the success that occurred in the spring, it led to the decision in 1973 for the American League to institute its use as an experiment to see if it would increase scoring and attendance. The experiment worked. Since that time batting averages have been higher in the American League than the National League. It has increased scoring and changed the way managers approach the game especially during the middle innings. No longer do they need to worry about when the pitcher’s spot will come up to bat thereby eliminating the use of the double switch. I’ve come to the conclusion that the DH is anti-environmental. It allows managers to over extend their pitching staffs which in turn leads to inefficiencies over similarly managed pitchers in the National League. Any environmentalist will tell you that the best way to save energy is not to expend more than you need. By overusing their starters, American League managers will see more breakage of their pitchers which in turn uses more energy increasing the carbon footprint of American League teams. The DH also extends the careers of players beyond their prime that are no longer capable of handling fielding as well as pitching. This too is wasteful as you are carrying players on your roster that are used for only one thing (hitting). It would be much more energy efficient if a player could field and hit. There would mean less waste late in the game since a player pinch hitting could also play in the field. We have all seen that older appliances, cars, products, etc. are less energy efficient meaning it takes more fuel to power these beasts. More energy consumption means more exhaust wastes which lead to increase CO2 levels increasing the “greenhouse effect” ultimately rising planet temperatures. This of course is the primary cause of global warming. If you think about it the designated hitter rule came into effect in 1973 which coincidently was also the first time that global warming entered into society’s vocabulary. As time has gone the designated hitter rule has been expanded from just regular season to being included in the World Series starting in 1976. This rule was then included in the All-Star game in 1989 and then later incorporated into Interleague play in 1997. If we looked at the amount of press coverage related to global warming I think we would find that since 1973 it has progressively increased. I don’t want to be an alarmist but I think we must do something if we want to survive as a species on this planet. I propose that we immediately eliminate the designated hitter sparing ourselves any more damage caused by the waste of energy. We should plant ivy in all the stadiums along the outfield walls to introduce more oxygen into the stadium mitigating the carbon dioxide that the DH has spewn the last 34 seasons. Environmental councils must be formed on all continents with representation of all countries. There should be an international treaty signed banning the use of the DH so that our clean-up efforts are not thwarted by some third world country. I think if we take this seriously and immediately institute an action plan we may be able to stem the tide of warming temperatures. We must act now before the polar ice caps melt too far and the damage becomes irreparable.

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