IT IS TIME

By:  Kurt Snyder

So what do you think, folks? Are you ready to spread the good news of the designated hitter across both leagues, once and for all?

In my mind, if there was ever a good opportunity to introduce the designated hitter across the board, this is the year.

There isn’t a lot of risk associated with trying something different this season, assuming MLB works out a deal that will allow one to happen.  

With this forum of ours, I take a pretty big risk angering our trusted readers, when a fair amount of them can be found in the ‘traditionalist’ category of baseball fans. And those readers still yearn for the old days before the designated hitter.

But it’s been a long time now, since the American League introduced the DH in 1973. It’s been so long that I don’t remember what I thought about it when the AL made the move.

However, for quite a while now, I have appreciated seeing both sides. Watching NL games is like a refreshing return to the past when strategy was so much more a part of the game. But that doesn’t mean I am interested in ditching the DH. It is actually the opposite.

Since inter-league play began, AL teams had to make the adjustments when playing games in the NL parks. Adjusting to the NL rules with pitchers batting is a big deal for the American League; an adjustment that NL teams didn’t have to make when they were the visiting team in the AL park.

The only adjustment for the NL? Add a DH to your lineup. Here ends the adjustment. It just wasn’t right.  And it hasn’t been right for a long time.

It got worse when MLB started spreading inter-league games all across the schedule. Even in the midst of pennant races in September, AL teams were still saddled with visiting NL parks and all the necessary changes that came with it.   

It’s been crazy. And finally, our game is ready to make the appropriate change – the designated hitter for all. Meanwhile, traditionalists everywhere are screaming at their screens.

Sorry, folks. But the designated hitter in both leagues is what is right for today’s game.

Did you get that?

For today’s game.

Yes, there was a time when the game didn’t need the DH. But now, this is the time it is needed across the board.

Try explaining to someone who is new to the game, that half of baseball uses the designated hitter and the other half doesn’t. The first question is why and then when you tell them why, they will think it’s stupid.

Why? Well, because it is! And I can’t for the life of me believe that this arrangement has been in existence for so long. Having a professional sport exist under 2 sets of rules has been unprecedented. And I am being kind.

I do appreciate the strategic value of the game played in the National League, but I can also appreciate the need to make changes in order to jumpstart the game and this is the time to do it.

You know what the game has become. How offensive it has become. And you can interpret that statement any way you like.

But the game has become all about the home run. Manufacturing offense, which includes using pitchers to move runners along via the bunt in most cases, does not fit with the new business model.

New fans don’t understand the complexity of baseball and we need for them to understand it so they can grow to like it. Yes, traditionalists who cherish the strategic roots of the game must take a back seat. They must sacrifice. For the good of the game.

As you know, we are going to see the universal DH in action if and when the 2020 season kicks off. The NL will then get their identity back for 2021, as the game renegotiates the new bargaining agreement. But beginning in 2022, pitchers will more than likely never bat again.

It is sad. I completely agree. But it is also time. And it has been time for quite a while.


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20 thoughts on “IT IS TIME

  1. Since 2020 is going to be a silly season anyway (if it happens), why limit the DH to hitting just for the pitcher? If Michael Lorenzen, Brandon Woodruff, or some other decent hitting pitcher is in the lineup use that as an opportunity to play a great defensive back up in the field and use the DH to hit in their place.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh the horror Kurt! Let’s go all the way. Each manager submits two line-up cards to start the game. One has the nine guys who put on gloves and work their magic in the field and another nine who sit in the dugout chewing sunflower seeds and waiting for their turn to slam their solo home runs. While we’re at it each team has nine pitchers and each one pitches one inning in every game! There, Baseball for the 21st century!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. agree with almost all of what kurt said except the end where he says it is sad that the DH will probably be used forever beginning in 2022…it is time…enough with the stupid 2 sets of rules….so its not sad to me, its just the right thing to do…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Complexity, Kurt? I’m not sure that the game we see today is nearly as complex as it used to be. With so many players either swinging for the fences or striking out, these all or nothing at bats have cut down the degree of complexity, as well as the use of strategy, in the game. Plus, I suspect it’s hard to attract new fans when there are few things more boring to watch than another strikeout.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Or try. They add a certain element of suspense at the plate. And we fans can relate as we think of how we might do in their situation. It’s the “blind squirrel” scenario put to the test.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Whatever is done should apply entirely to both leagues! 2 different rules for the leagues is the dumbest thing ever done in major league baseball. Personnally, I love watching pitchers bat. It’s one of the most fun things to watch in sports.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. “New fans don’t understand the complexity of baseball”!!!! Kurt, I would like you to expound on that statement a little more so we can all better understand why that would be a reason to “dumb down” the game we all grew up with. Maybe if these “new fans” would put down their “smart phones” long enough they might be able to understand “the complexity of baseball”. Egads, what hath the Baseball Gods wrought?

    Liked by 3 people

    • I very much fear that our smart phones and 24/7 internet access is bringing us to a post literate, post rational, and post human interaction age. The political fallout could not be clearer.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Growing up in an American League city, I am so used to the DH that it doesn’t bother me if the NL makes the switch. Growing up I watched a ton of Cubs and Braves baseball, and if I had to pick, I would stick with NL rules since I really enjoy the strategy aspect. However, games change, rules evolve, and it’s pretty silly that we’ve had two sets of rules in MLB for nearly 50 years. It’s time.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Most of the “strategy” involved with pitchers batting consists of cliched obvious moves–pinch hitting when you are behind, sacrifice bunts, etc. The “purists” go into raptures about double switches as if it were particle physics. Yesterday’s post about VMart brought up an interesting–do you hire a dedicated DH, or spread the role around? Unlike having the pitcher bunt, or pinch hitting for him when you are a couple runs down, this is a real strategy issue with no obvious right answer.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I appreciate your position Kurt. But I’m so sick and filled with rage of how mlb coddles slugger’s and between juiced players,golf balls replacing baseballs. The result is I should get drunk, pass out, and just wake up when announcers scream ‘home run’. Wouldn’t miss a thing!!!

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  9. Kurt Truth be told as one of the old traditionalists in more than one sense I was more exasperated by the proliferation of inter league games even late in the season than the DH. I never forget how ridiculous it was in an close inter division race when the 2013 Tigers played their last three regular season games with an National League team. Fortunately the Tigers clinched before that series but what if they didn’t?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Rev, I, too, would be pleased to see interleague games go away. They add nothing to the regular season, and remove a lot of the suspense we used to have for the World Series.

      Liked by 3 people

  10. The “purists” need to get over themselves. The DH is in use in every league around the world in some form or another EXCEPT the NL. There is no added strategy in the NL, hasn’t been for about 20 years (other than roster make-up). The DH has been dead for years, MLB was just too greedy to accept it.

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