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Dunlap: Wainwright Another Example Of Why DH Needed In Both Leagues

Adam Wainwright should never have been in that position.

No, we're past the point of this making sense.

It makes sense that the National League should have the designated hitter; it makes no sense one of the most exciting arms in baseball might not pitch again this season because of some archaic, outmoded way of thinking wherein "because that's the way we've always done it" is about the best answer anyone can come up with.

Plain and simple, it's (past) time for the designated hitter to make its way into the National League and, by extension, all of baseball.

If you didn't finally realize that as Wainwright was being helped from the field on Saturday night then placed on the disabled list Sunday morning for an injury he sustained while hitting, well, you and I will never be on the same page.

Go ahead, yell and scream about tradition, because I know that's where people who want to keep the DH away from the NL invariably take it.

Or, shriek and yap and use whatever argument you'd like against the designated hitter being adopted by the National League --- come up with any one you'd like.

That's all great.

Now do this …

Imagine if that wasn't Wainwright, but if it would have been Francisco Liriano.

Or Gerrit Cole.

Or A.J. Burnett.

Would you feel any differently?

But getting back to that "that's the way we've always done it" crowd who clings so much to tradition while they rail against an adoption of the DH in the NL: You folks do realize the playoff format has changed drastically in baseball in the recent past, right?

You realize there's now instant replay, too, right?

You know guys have to stay in the box between pitches and there's a clock monitoring pace of play in plain view of everyone, right?

You understand there aren't league-based umpires anymore and we got this thing called interleague play now, right?

What I'm getting at is this: Baseball has changed --- and probably will continue to change --- drastically.

One of the biggest changes has been not only interleague play, but now a system where interleague games take place every day of the season.

With that, especially, it stamps home the need for universal rules --- it stamps home the need for the designated hitter in the National League, because never in a gazillion years would they drop it in the American League and the union be on board with such an agreement.

As interleague games take place throughout the entire season, envision this scenario then tell me bringing the DH to the NL doesn't make sense.

Imagine the Pirates locked in a pennant race with, say, the Cardinals, going into the final series of a season.

But the Pirates play at an American League team while the Cardinals are playing at home against an American League team.

In essence, the AL team playing against the Pirates would have the advantage of using their high-priced slugger to DH while the Pirates --- constructed as an NL squad --- would sort of have to "find" someone to step out of their normal role to do that.

In contrast, the Cardinals would field their regular squad, but the American League team traveling to Busch would have to make a decision to either sit their regular DH, or throw a glove on him and put him in the field, making him a defensive liability just to get his bat in the game.

Tell me how, at the tail end of a pennant race, something like that would be fair to the Pirates when measured up against the Cardinals in that scenario?

In short, it's inequitable. Period.

Also, there is really not much of an identity with the leagues anymore because of how much interleague play has diluted it.

Heck, the Pirates played the Detroit Tigers in the Home Opener this season and, to me at least, I didn't think of the Tigers as a great American League team coming into PNC Park. Rather, I just looked at them as a great offensive team coming into PNC Park. I've seen so many interleague games at this point, that there's no novelty to them; an opponent is simply just an opponent.

On Sunday in his pregame news conference before the Pirates took on the Diamondbacks in Arizona, Clint Hurdle said the news of Wainwright's injury was "sickening" to him. The Pirates' skipper went on to describe how Wainwright was a great man off the field.

All this, and the loss of Wainwright would serve to boost the Pirates' chances immensely of winning the National League Central crown.

No one would have expected Hurdle to publicly gloat or find some delight in the injury, but to hear an opposing manager --- and Hurdle is as honest as they come --- say the physical damage to a rival was "sickening" forces you to take notice.

Could Wainwright have been injured --- with the exact same injury --- in the throes of pitching or carrying out his duties as a defensive player? Yep.

But, know what? He wasn't.

Wainwright was hurt as a pitcher with a bat in his hand.

That's something, from this view, we never need to see again.

Bring on the DH. Bring on logical thinking. Bring on universal rules.

Or if you want to continue to keep it out of the National League, at least give me a whole lot more than some argument about "because that's the way we've always done it."

Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 "The Fan." You can e-mail him at Check out his bio here.

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