There are few issues that divide us like the designated hitter rule. It’s a debate that shows no signs of dying down. Here’s the latest argument in favor of using the DH in the NL, via Splice Today:
Last weekend, for example, while watching a slew of inter-league contests via the MLB “Extra Innings” package … I finally switched gears and figured it was time for the National League to acquiesce and adopt the still-controversial designated hitter rule.
Heresy, I guess, but what the hell; if you’re a Milwaukee Brewers’ devotee, wouldn’t it be delightful to see the world’s tubbiest vegetarian, Prince Fielder, in the dugout, contemplating his next plate appearance, instead of anchored at first base? One league’s dominance over the other usually runs in cycles, but the N.L. seems mired in a slump that’s likely to run longer than the Great Depression, and this was evident once again over the weekend. Sure, the strategy required of an N.L. manager is more intricate than A.L. counterparts with double-switches and more sacrifice bunts, but the two leagues might be more competitive if older free agents (or crummy fielders) could extend their careers as a DH.
I think the above argument in favor of the DH is weak and poorly articulated. But I do think it raises a valid question: is the DH giving the AL an advantage over the NL in interleague games? And, if so, does something need to be done?
I have absolutely no data to back this up, but it seems to me that the presence of the DH allows AL teams to build better rosters. Quite simply, if I’m a free agent, I’m going to sign with an AL team if possible, because AL teams have one more position and that means one more chance for me to crack the starting lineup.
If the DH does confer an advantage on the AL, then something needs to be done. Bud Selig could stop scheduling interleague games, but the problem would still rear its head in the World Series.
So I guess there’s only two options: give the NL the DH, or take it away from the AL.
My buddy Dan, despite being an otherwise intelligent person, is passionate in his support of the DH. He thinks it’s boring watching pitchers hit. And, of course, with the exception of Micah Owings, he’s right. I appreciate the beauty of a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt as much as the next guy, but I’m not about to tell you that it’s as exciting as watching Big Papi swing for the fences.
Still, it seems to me that just because pitchers can’t hit, that isn’t a good enough reason to mess with a rule that is at the heart of the game: everyone hits, everyone fields. After all, shouldn’t America’s pastime value equality?
What do you think? Does the DH confer an advantage on the AL? Does something need to be done? Let’s settle this in the comments.