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Will NL go to DH?

April 28, 2015

by William Szczepanek

1973 Topps Rom Blomberg #462The designated hitter rule has been around since 1973 when it was adopted by the American League. Ron Blomberg walked with the bases loaded as the first DH to appear at the plate in a game. Since then it seems the AL and NL are like Democrats and Republicans who can’t decide on a common law that would be good for everyone.

While the rule has been controversial one would think that after 40 years we would be leaning in one direction or another. Well, maybe we finally are. In an effort to raise the level of excitement and standardize rules for interleague play the National League may actually adopt the DH rule in the very near future. This would allow popular, otherwise over-the-hill players, to add excitement to the game with their hitting ability in the National League, while continuing to retain high salaries. A win-win situation, according to the players’ union.

Personally I’ve never liked the DH and to this day find it boring. Yes, I do get tired of seeing pitchers flailing at curve balls, or not getting a sacrifice bunt down, but I also don’t find run-scoring as exciting as a close game where every pitch and fielding play is critical. That’s just me. I can understand how others might think differently. Don’t you find 12 to 6 scores, or even 18 to 12 games boring? Seeing guys running around the bases or strutting around the bases isn’t always the most exciting thing in the game. There are also some stats that would disappear, like best hitting pitchers of all time. If Babe Ruth never got to hit, we would have missed out on a great thing.

But why stop with designated hitters? Why not have designated fielders for all positions? Wouldn’t it be great to see slick-fielding third basemen like Brooks Robinson, instead of some fat power hitting guy who can’t bend over. (I do understand that there are many overweight players who are also good fielders.); or, how about catchers who can gun down the best runners; or, first basemen who can pick throws out of the dirt; or, three outfielders who can climb the walls to rob hitters of extra base hits. It would give us excellence in the game at all positions, with all nine hitters being DHs. But this may not achieve what some today are trying to achieve. What would that do for excitement? Would it keep the games closer, more competitive and create excitement and drama based on multiple abilities, not just hitting? Don’t know for sure.

Yes, strikeouts can be boring. But most players strike out more because they are trying to hit the beloved home run instead of just getting on base. Isn’t a bunt with two outs in the ninth exciting? How about a suicide squeeze? Don’t see those as much anymore.

I personally would prefer if the AL got rid of the DH, but that will never happen because then people would have to admit that it was a mistake. The DL is coming to the NL and I will accept it because it will standardize the rules and provide for fairer competition. But I don’t think it will make the game more exciting.

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