On October 7th, 2011 the Cardinal's beat the Phillies in a thrilling 1-0 NLDS clinching Game 5 victory. The last out was a ground out by Ryan Howard that led to him tearing his achilles as he traveled to first base. As the Cardinals celebrated knowing they were moving on to the NLCS, Howard laid lifeless on the base path holding his ankle in pain. Fast forward to this weekend when St. Louis' ace-pitcher Adam Wainwright suffered a similar injury getting out of the batter's box against the Brewers. Wainwright was ruled out for the season by Sunday morning and by then the discussion of the National League adopting the Designated Hitter role had already resurfaced.
Wainwright is one of the most dominant pitchers in the big leagues today. Last season he put together a 20 win season with five complete games and 227 innings pitched. The blow to the Cardinals is more than obvious. Optimistically, St. Louis has been known for not only surviving through suffered attrition over the years but to be able to prosper and create new heroes in the process. With pitchers like young Carlos Martinez and returning Jamie Garcia looking to turn things around when he recovers from a setback the Cardinals will have a chance to prove their depth once again in 2015, despite the inconvenience of it.
One worry-some part of this injury is the glaring struggle it opposes to keep the designated hitter out of the National League. Not only for the sake of the debate does the DH status among the NL spark up great discussion, it makes the strategy element of the game that much more enjoyable. Yes, it is unfortunate that a guy like Wainwright, who is known for his mound presence rather than his plate dominance, will now sit due to a batting injury. But that's part of the game. It would be no different than a quarterback getting injured on a football field for tackling a player who just intercepted one of his passes.
The designated hitter is a scapegoat in the American League for a bad batter, but Wainwright was never an easy out at the plate. In 2014 he managed six RBIs and a .198 average over 82 plate appearances. Sure not glowing statistics like you could get from a traditional designated hitter, but he would still be a factor in the 9-man lineup. Let's not forget the simple fact that this could have happened to anybody out there, whether it be a stud pitcher like Waino or a top-notch batter like Ryan Howard.
Sometimes baseball is unforgiving. It's what keeps it fair. A designated hitter to me is a way of cheating that fairness and should be kept out of the game unless we're talking about having a home-run derby. I believe that pitcher's should have to hit and there's no crying in baseball! If that means players subject themselves to possible injury then I'm okay with that... it's part of the game! Let's quit crying about unfortunate injuries and just remember that sometimes bad things happen.