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COLUMNS

For whom the bell tolls

Kesley Colbert Contributing Writer

The apocalypse is here! Life as we know it is over! And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse…..

There is nothing we can do. Nobody gives a flying rip about what’s right. Fair. True. Honest. Correct. We’re just kicking it all out the window!

And I don’t care which political party tickles your fancy. I don’t care what religious persuasion makes you happy. I don’t care who your “mama and them” are. They can’t help now!

Sky King is not appearing “out of the clear, blue, western sky” to fix this thing. Nor is Mighty Mouse flying down to “save the day.” And the Long Ranger is out of silver bullets.

We should have paid more attention to those Old Testament prophets!

This ain’t about who’s riding the red horse or pale horse. The hoofbeats are sounding for the worthy and unjust alike!

The long prophesied four horsemen are thundering right over us! You know what they represent: Pestilence, Famine, Death…..and the universal DH rule.

Most of the known world has no idea what the “designated hitter” means to a pure baseball fan. But it signals the end of the game as we know it!

It was on one leg anyway. The National League was, and has been since 1973, the only league in any kind of organized ball shunning the use of this “semi-substitute, fifth wheel, extra player.” It was still nine guys on a side…..like God intended.

Until the NL owners caved to the cries of a few in this abnormal abbreviated season and agreed to implement the DH. They promised to revisit the rule for 2021 like there was some hope. It sounds a little like offering oceanfront property for sale a little southeast of Bruceton, Tennessee…..

If the DH had been in use in Boston in 1915 a young pitcher by the name of Babe Ruth would have never had a chance to bat. Chew on that while you read on….

We had baseball fields back home that would rival Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. Paul David Campbell’s backyard wasn’t big and his garage was parked in the middle of left field…..but we came up with a couple of special ground rules and played from early morning till suppertime or someone broke a leg, whichever came first.

And let me tell you, not one person at any time in any of those thousands of games over a period of five or six years ever one time thought, mentioned, said or even hinted that we might let someone bat that wasn’t going to play the field! It never came up. It was too farfetched to even be an idea. It was not the tiniest blimp on anybody’s radar!

And we had a couple of liberal Presbyterians in our midst.

The empty lot beside Betty Scates’ house over on Florida Avenue served us well for a season. The only downside to that park was the high grass if someone hit it over the centerfielder’s head. We spent too much time searching for the only ball we had.

But everybody helped look. We didn’t have “designated ball finders.” If you played, you did it all.

It made perfectly good sense to us, then and now!

And I understand the premise of the DH rule. At the Little League level it allows for an extra player to be in the game. That makes one more mother happy. For professional baseball, two things are in play. One is this cockeyed idea that everyone wants more offense. They contend the pitcher is an automatic out and who wants to watch three weak swings and a walk back to the dugout.

See the Babe Ruth reference above. Or look up Wes Ferrell or Bob Gibson’s major league hitting records.

And, naturally, money comes into play. The owners can keep an older guy around to DH who can still attract people to the park. For the players union, they get another “starter” on the major league payroll.

Well, they can talk till they’re blue in the face. They can pull up charts and graphics and rationalize until the cows come home.

It still ain’t baseball.

Ricky Gene could be a little on the lazy side. Especially if it was hot. And there was absolutely no shade when we graduated to the big field across from the Pajama Factory. He’d sometime want to hit and then rest in the dugout for an inning or two.

You know how that ended! We stuck that Rawlings glove on his hand and kicked him out to first base!

Nobody got to be half a player.

It didn’t make sense by any stretch of the imagination!

It still doesn’t……

Respectfully,

Kes