Gone, too, from the AL will be that fascinating speculation about which pinch hitter is best in a particular situation. What is more, the rare moments of success when a pitcher did hit were well worth the wait. I saw Earl Wilson win his own no-hitter with a home run. I saw Jim Lonborg bunt the Red Sox to a pennant, and I saw Sonny Siebert outhit the Orioles all by himself. Those games would have been far less memorable with a DPH.
One of the beauties of baseball is the way it exposes each player's weaknesses. Now the pitcher is exempt, along with one hitter who won't have to reveal that he can't make the throw from right anymore. Next it will be nine Harmon Killebrews hitting to nine Mark Belangers, with the bases loaded up with Allan Lewises. In the meantime the critics that Bowie Kuhn and his friends are trying so hard to please will be watching football, and the once great game of baseball will become a well-played, high-scoring bore.
Baseball has often unjustifiably been called a boring game. Certainly the weak hitters at the bottom of the order, including the pitcher, have been a dull part of the sport. The American League decision to have a permanent substitute hitter for the pitcher was a fantastic solution to this problem. I suggest, however, that the fans would like to see an even bolder step taken. This would be to eliminate the nine spot completely. Thus the fans would see each of the eight regular players more often, including the star hitters who provide the most excitement in baseball.
Whatever the reasons for the new designated-pinch-hitter rule in the American League, this much is clear: the all-round athlete, the rare good-hitting pitcher, is being needlessly and unfairly penalized. Much of the managerial strategy surrounding the question "to yank or not to yank" is also wiped out. I can see the trend now: big strike bowlers teamed with pinch spare-makers, long-hitting golfers with assistants who specialize in putting, etc. I am not really old enough to remember football teams that played both offense and defense, and I suppose the DPH will one day be accepted as readily as the two-platoon system, but aren't the people who generate such changes overlooking the value of the all-round athlete? Is this what sport is all about?
MICHAEL G. WALSH
As an American League diehard I wonder why William Leggett failed to mention the primary reason the National League didn't adopt the designated-pinch-hitter rule. The National League moguls obviously wanted to wait until Henry Aaron passes Babe Ruth's home-run record before giving the DPH a try. They did not want to risk the criticism that would certainly arise if Aaron had the obvious advantages of swinging as a DPH. It goes without saying that baseball does not want to put another asterisk in the record book when its greatest record is broken.
Thanks to Peter Carry for his fine article on the Baltimore Bullets (These Bullets Have Caliber, Jan. 29). Gene Shue has done a great job since the days of the Monroe, Loughery, Johnson and Marin outfit of a few years back. I have followed the Bullets for a long time and I think this year's team can beat both the Bucks and the Lakers. Also, no one is happier about the Bullets' move to the D.C. area than I. What a team. With the Redskins plus the Bullets and, in two years, a National Hockey League franchise, the future certainly looks bright for us long-suffering D.C. fans. Eat your heart out, Bob Short.
Except for Phil Chenier, Peter Carry covered the starting five pretty well. But he didn't say a word about the Bullet depth. For instance, Stan Love not only has a deadly jumper but can beat Wilt Chamberlain to the hoop better than any other second-year forward. Dave Stallworth is good for eight points on any night, and John Tresvant saved us in 1971. We have Rich Rinaldi, who can bomb like Jerry Lucas. And of course there is Kevin Porter, the rookie who did such a terrific job in Archie Clark's absence.
It was a pleasant surprise to see an article about the much-ignored Carolina Cougars (Home Is Where the Hoop Is, Jan. 22). Your description of Head Coach Larry Brown was perfect; he is a "knockout in cut velvet." The Cougars have really been playing great basketball this year. From Bill C. to little Mack Calvin, they are the Big Green Machine.