When asked how he felt about the designated hitter in baseball by Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune, Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg did not mince words:
“I hate it. Hate it. Hate it,” he said. “I think it’s awful. In every way, shape or form it’s awful.”
Why don’t you tell us how you really feel, Mr. Sternberg?
After getting his little bit of ranting off his chest, he makes a few very solid points. First of all, speaking from the perspective of a guy who is such a big baseball fan that he was willing to buy a Major League team, Sternberg said he would like to see more strategy used in the American League (for those of you out there who may need clarification, the AL uses a designated hitter so that the pitcher never has to bat, whereas the National League still has its pitchers bat and is thus far more interesting in terms of baseball being a chess match).
“A big part of the game for me is the strategy, and clearly there is a ton of strategy that goes on. No matter which team is playing, both teams have to deal with the (pitcher) in that spot and the ramifications that go along with that.
“Do you let the guy hit? Or, do you substitute a hitter? And it’s not just that one spot, but two, three, four guys ahead in the order. What does it mean to get to that spot? How do you pitch to the No. 8 batter? All that disappears. When do you get your (relief) pitchers up? Which pitchers do you use? It makes the game less formulaic.”
Of course, all of that being said, Sternberg is looking hard at his bottom line. His Rays are one of the least profitable, most cash-strapped organizations in the league, and yet must compete against the likes of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
Obviously, being forced to spend millions on a player who never puts on a glove is not something Sternberg prefers to do.
“It’s an incredible hindrance when it comes to competitive balance … “It’s been an albatross.
“Competitively for a team like ours, you’re not able to hide your mistakes, bad contracts so to speak,” Sternberg said. “So we have to go out and add another player that we can’t compete with from a dollar standpoint in adding that position.”
It’s tough to feel compassion for a multi-millionaire owner, but the truth of the matter is that he’s right. The Anaheim Angels signed first baseman Albert Pujols to a massive contract before last year and after the year, instead of hurting for money, went out and gave outfielder Josh Hamilton $25 million a year.
And don’t even get us started on the aforementioned Yankess and Red Sox. The season hasn’t even started, and you can bet Sternberg’s already sick of talking about them.
Although we’re hoping he’s not — we love these kinds of Words of Wisdom around here.