Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Speaking of the designated hitter...

...Is there still a controversy about it anymore?

Twenty years ago, when the DH was only about 15 years old, articles and columns were frequently written that disparaged or defended it. As a high school student, even I wrote an article bashing the DH and submitted it to a sportswriting competition.

If asked, I usually tell people that I'm opposed to the DH, but that's usually just a reflexive statement, said without any coherent thought. When I first became a fan, I loved the Dodgers and the National League, so I automatically hated everything about the American League, including the DH. But now, I just can't seem to care about it anymore.

I guess that means the DH has won, and I'm surprised that I don't care more than I do, which is to say, at all.

(The only thing I really still hate about the DH is that if you draft a DH onto your fantasy team, he can only play in the UTIL position -- in ESPN leagues, anyway -- and not in the 1B or OF position, where many DHs occasionally play.)

If I were starting up a new baseball league, I don't even know whether I would have pitchers bat or not.

I think I can trace my resignation about the DH to the fact that it is simply not ever going to go away. It's everywhere, even in high school leagues and below.

Several years ago, during bargaining with the players association, MLB offered to expand the rosters by one player and simultaneously eliminate the DH. I don't know whether they were serious about it, but that's what they offered, anyway. I believe the stated reason was to purify the game, but really they just wanted to eliminate a high-salaried position. The players association saw right through that and nixed the idea, and MLB never made a deal about it.

Now, a decade later, you never hear anything about it anymore, at least not until a pitcher gets hurt running the bases during interleague play.

Am I missing something? Is there still an anti-DH crowd that thinks things will change sometime?

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