The designated hitter rule, in which pitchers are not forced to humiliate themselves at the plate, is now a permanent presence in Major League Baseball. The DH has of course been in force in the American League since 1973, and the National League used it during the COVID-abbreviated 2020 season. And now, thanks to the latest collective bargaining agreement, the universal DH is in force across both leagues on a permanent basis.
We bring up this obvious bit of information on this day because this day marks the six-year anniversary of this particular unlikeliest of lightning strikes.
That is retired moundsman Bartolo Colon on the occasion of his first and only major-league home run. Colon for his career as a "hitter" had an OPS of .199 – yes, OPS of .199 – so what you see above can be characterized as rare in the extreme. The point revisiting this is that, it says here, no amount of such whimsy at the plate can make up for the miserable experience of watching pitchers undertake something they were not selected for and at which they have no particular faculties.
Fellow retired moundsman Cliff Lee, your thoughts?
Precisely. As for Mr. Colon, that his home run happened and is forever available to us via the magic of color television means that, yes, it's fine for pitchers never to bat again – the peerless Shohei Ohtani excepted. You'll further note that baseball has continued to survive, draw ears and eyeballs to broadcasts, and even sell tickets despite the presence of the DH in the august and hallowed senior circuit. If any arch traditionalists have sworn off the game, then they're too small in number to notice.
In any event, let's use this occasion to reflect upon the first month or so of the universal DH as a permanent presence in MLB. We'll do so via the timeless framing device of half-considered "takeaways." Let us proceed.