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This Week In Baseball: It's Time For The DH In Both Leagues

By Ryan Mayer, CBS Local Sports

The designated hitter.

Like Republicans and Democrats, Pepsi vs. Coke, or New York vs. Chicago style pizza, there’s a clear delineation between the two sides. 

The people that are against the designated hitter say that it ruins the game’s traditions of having the 9 guys on the field hit and play in the field.  Complaints range from the understandable: “I like the strategy of the National League. A DH would take away from that.” To the absolutely ridiculous end of the spectrum: “Designated hitters are all fat, the pitchers in the AL are fat too because they don’t have to run the bases.” (Our #1 Sports Caller of last week)

The same goes for those on the opposite side of the aisle.  “The DH provides more offense to the game.” The absurd “No one wants to see the pitcher hit.”

This argument rears its head at some point each and every season when a player or manager decides to stir it up once more. This year it was Terry Collins and the injury to Adam Wainwright as he ran the bases early last week.

The debate isn’t new but with the changes that the MLB is making to the pace of play rules, it actually makes sense to implement a universal designated hitter. If you eliminate the need for the pitcher to hit, then you don’t spend as much time with explanations of double switches, pinch hitters, and other forms of strategy managers in the senior circuit tend to use. 

That strategy has always had a part in baseball, but this isn’t a time to continue to defend the tradition of the game.  For an example, the MLB should look to the NFL and the NBA for how to evolve with the times.  Both sports emphasize (whether you agree or not) offense and high scoring.  Despite the fact that some fans complain that there’s too much offense, we watch those sports more than ever.  Adding a DH to the National League could have the same effect.  The MLB under its new commissioner seems to have a more open mind to changes to the way the game is played.  Why not explore a new avenue to even the playing field?

In an era of pitchers when runs are down and the pitching continues to get more accurate and harder throwing, why not even the playing field by allowing an extra hitter in the line-up that forces the pitcher to think? Pitcher’s duels are great for baseball enthusiasts, but for those fans just casually dropping by a game or channel surfing? Offensive fireworks draw them in.  Seeing a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt by a pitcher, while it’s a thing of beauty to those who have played the game or understand the difficulty, just looks like another out.  

I understand the traditions of the game and this could be dismissed, as “he’s just another young kid that’s trying to change the game”. Baseball more than any of the other sports, relies upon its traditions and its history.  It is the most stat driven and records driven game that we have.  That’s one of the main reasons I love it.  But, it has to evolve, to look to the future.

In then end, this isn’t a suggestion that baseball is boring and needs a total overhaul. It’s just a suggestion that baseball, like the rest of our core four sports, needs to continue to evolve with time and that next evolution should be to add the designated hitter to the National League. 

 Ryan Mayer is an Associate Producer for CBS Local Sports. Ryan lives in NY but comes from Philly and life as a Philly sports fan has made him cynical. Anywhere sports are being discussed, that's where you'll find him. Agree/disagree? Email him. 

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