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Don’t Kill the DH – Expand it to the National League

By Mike Silva ~ December 16th, 2009. Filed under: Mike Silva.

There is talk that Bud Selig’s newly minted “advisory committee” will actually tackle issues in baseball and push for change in various areas. One of the topics is the future of the designated hitter. Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune believes the DH might be facing its greatest threat since it was permanently adopted by the American League in 1976. If I had the choice not only would I keep the position, but expand it to the National League.

In an age where .500 pitchers are making $10 million dollars there is no need for them to swing a bat or run the bases. Pitching is hard enough and I am tired of watching 99% of pitchers swing like they are swatting flies. I think some of the members of the NYBD softball team stand a better chance in the batter’s box than these guys. Let them concentrate on what they are paid to do – pitch.

Make no mistake about it the DH issue is more about money than anything. Rather than paying for an extra starting bat owners prefer their pinch hitting specialist. A good PH will command a couple of million dollars a year. Hideki Matsui, arguably the best DH in baseball, just signed a $6 million dollars from Anaheim. If it were a better economy I could see him commanding double that amount. As always you need to follow the money trail. The ironic thing is saving a few million in DH salaries will put millions of pitcher dollars at risk – a far more expensive proposition. Do I need to remind Mets fans about David Cone missing a large chunk of the ’87 season after breaking his finger bunting? What about the Yankees missing the playoffs in 2008 largely due to Chien Ming Wang hurting himself running the bases? I could swallow injuries due to the wear of tear of hurling a baseball 100 plus times a start, but running the bases? Bunting? Totally unnecessary.

The National League is one of the few leagues left that does not incorporate the designated hitter. The purists like to point out that is how baseball was meant to be played. Batters and catchers did not wear helmets at one point, should we go back to that too? There is no reason why one game has two separate rules for each league. Does the NBA not use the 3 point shot in both the Eastern and Western Conference?

Pitching is hard enough in the modern game. Although the DH wouldn’t help alleviate that problem it will at least give hurlers the ability to focus on their craft explicitly during a nine inning game. Who knows, without the need to pinch hit perhaps we will see a few more complete games in the National League. If you’re worried about the “pace of the game” that plans to be addressed on Selig’s committee as well. For as much as high scoring and pitching changes slow the game down, the silliness of network television and mound conferences are equally, if not more, to blame.

It’s time to expand the DH, not kill it. Give us the game of baseball how it’s played everywhere, but in the National League. I say move forward, not back. Hopefully Selig’s committee feels the same way.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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9 Responses to Don’t Kill the DH – Expand it to the National League

  1. Shamik

    Hear Hear! Would that more people in charge thought this way.

  2. Ceetar

    We need more complete players, not less. When you’ve got solid players that are actually athletes, actually playing the whole game is not a problem. Sure, Wang hurt himself running the bases, but he should be ‘running the bases’ to cover first, something that’s definitely more difficult. He got hurt because injuries happen. DH is a quirk that teams can exploit one-dimensional players. What’s next, a designated fielder? Get a spiffy defensive wizard that can’t hit, and have him only play the field, and ahve a hitter for him in the lineup. Why not make lineups and fielders completely different for that matter? DH already seperate the pitchers and hitters completely, why not seperate further? How about the pitcher is not allowed to stray from the mound.

    It’s all silly. No DH. play the game, the whole game, and if you’re skills decline that you can’t stand anymore, that’s tough.

  3. GravediggerHebner

    I hate the DH and wish it would be abolished. But I’m also realistic and I realize it’s not going away. The Players Association is too powerful and would never give up such a high salaried roster spot. Given that, it’s about time to end the imbalance between the American and National Leagues and bring the DH to the NL too.

  4. Dallas

    I think its a terrible idea! Most pitchers only get a couple of at bats unless you are Roy Halladay and pitch a complete game. Having the pitcher hit adds a lot more strategy. You have to utilize your bench much more for PH and RP and you have to plan further in advance. I feel like the NL is more like chess and the AL like checkers in this respect. Having the DH also seems to lengthen the games quite a bit which I don’t think we need more of. It might be nice for resting old weary players but frankly maybe they should make way for people that can play all aspects of the game

  5. Shamik

    Why is it such a terrible idea? There are lefty specialists, and people who only pinch-run or pinch hit. In football you either play defense or offense. And honestly, no one comes to watch a pitcher bat. I dont think it necessarily adds anything meaningful to the game. Besides, having a DH simplifies the game for the idiots that run the Mets.

  6. Bretzky

    Hopefully MLB will do the right thing and get rid of the DH once and for all. There’s a reason why NL baseball is more exciting than AL baseball: the absence of the DH. Without the DH in the lineup, NL teams have to be more proactive in generating runs than AL teams need to be. Watching an AL game is like watching a bunch of guys from a weekend beer league take a stroll around the bases, in other words, boring. Give me a double steal any day of the week.

  7. t agee

    Why stop at designated hitters? I’ve always felt baseball should employ designated fielders too mostly because of the different “skill set” they bring. Another advance I feel the time has come is the designated runner. By having a fresh speedster available everytime a hitter reaches base teams could basically play Home Run Derby with their starting 9. This is a frequent approach with some of the softball teams in my division and has proven very popular with the overflowing throngs of fans that come to bear witness to this cromagnon style caveball. One of the great things about this approach would be the opportunity to see the athletes “at rest” in between innings. The fielders would play pepper in the bullpen while the behomouth sluggers could congregate outside the gate at Boog Powell’s bbque inhaling huge pulled pork sandwiches slathered with all the goodies and the speedsters, lined up along the foul lines stretch out, limber up and ride stationary bikes. They could even don a robe and do a ring walk like a boxer when they enter/reenter the game. Possibly in a more evolved culture we could get to the point where having a notoriously poor curve ball hitting carnivore at the plate we could bring in a designated pitcher to drop a charley on him or rotate the defense after every run like in volleyball and rename the MVP award to the most ONE DIMENSIONAL PLAYER. Any other ideas?

  8. the most interesting man in the world

    Hay, Trying to view your blog on an EVO 4G and am having troubles. I can’t get the menu to load right. Just wanted you to know, thanks!

  9. Mike Silva

    I will look into it, but there should be the mobile site version that pops up

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