In a rare trip to the Mile High City, the Yankees began a pitching duel in the pouring rain. Starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda pitched a strong 7 innings, only a minor slip in the 6th inning allowed a single and a 2-run home run to put the Rockies on top 2-0, what would become the final score. His replacement Shawn Kelley pitched a scoreless inning, allowing only a single hit.
There were a couple of good defensive plays on both side of the field, but really tonight’s game once again come down to the pitching. And with the rain pouring and the threat of lightning for most of the game, it was rather a dramatic flourish to tonight’s game. In fact, the stadium requested those seated in the upper decks to take cover for a few innings as the worst part of the storm passed through the area. Maybe the one stadium that actually needs to be a dome is Coors Field, as they’ve had a few postponed games due to really bad weather, including a blizzard last month.
The strangest part of tonight’s game (at least to me) was seeing Kuroda hit. It threw me for a second as I remembered the National League’s lack of a Designated Hitter. I suppose fans of a National League team are used to seeing their pitchers swing the bat, but for a lifelong American League fan (born after the creation of the DH in 1973), it’s a little disconcerting. And up until a few years ago, the only time AL pitchers would bat was during the World Series, which was always almost laughable. But now that interleague play is more common (due to the way the teams have shifted around the leagues), I guess I will have to become more accustomed to pitchers hitting.
Maybe I’m a little old school, but I liked it when the teams in each league never met until the Series. And really old-school traditionalists hate the DH because they feel it takes away from the original spirit of the game. But much like the evolution of fielding gloves, batting helmets, baseball bats, injuries, player development and salaries, roster sizes, and the RBI and other statistics, perhaps the evolution of including the DH (and I must then conceded interleague play) is the right thing for the sport.
Change is a natural part of life, and I don’t think allowing for natural evolution of a game will ever deter from the spirit and heart of the sport as a whole. In fact, I think it may actually strengthen it. Think about the safety regulations, which are also constantly evolving as technology and science continues to explore options to make the sport safer and reduce injuries, something we Yankees fans should be welcoming with gusto after a quick glance at our DL. The invention of batting helmets, for instance, which became the norm in professional baseball in the 1960s and continued to evolve in shape, size, and with flaps, until just this year the MLB adopted the latest technology of batting helmets and made it a rule across the league that all batters must wear the new helmet. The new helmet can apparently withstand a hit by a 100 mph pitch and not injure the batter, which is a vast improvement over the former style which could only withstand a pitch at 70 mph tops. I don’t think they’ve stopped developing the helmet, and I don’t want them to.
Honestly, this post has evolved to change my perspective on things, and as the Yankees continue their first interleague series in a NL park, I can look at the game as an ever-changing sport with the motivation to make things better in this old game that we love.