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Is the DH rule in play for Selig's committee?

Commissioner Bud Selig's newly formed "Special Committee for On-Field Matters," which was announced Tuesday, is charged with finding new solutions to a lot of old problems -- the use of instant replay, the quality of umpiring, the tedious pace of play, the too-frequent off-days during the postseason, etc. Much of this stuff is just warmed-over policy matter, Selig's way of pawning some minor annoyances off on someone else.

But one thing stood out from Tuesday's announcement: the notion that the designated hitter rule is on the table.

(Actually, another thing stood out, as well: Whose idea was it to put Los Angeles Angels Manager Mike Scioscia and former Washington Nationals manager Frank Robinson on the same committee? In 2005, those two men nearly came to blows during a memorable Nationals/Angels game in Anaheim, after which a seething Robinson said of Scioscia, "I lost a lot of respect for Mike tonight, as a person and as a manager. There's nothing he can say to me now. Nothing." It's easy to imagine Scioscia trying to make a point to Robinson during a committee meeting, and Robinson turning away disdainfully and responding, "Talk to the hand.")

The DH has been dividing baseball -- both as a practical matter that distinguishes the National and American leagues (and causes headaches come time for interleague play, all-star games and the World Series), and as a philosophical one -- since 1973, when Ron Blomberg became the first DH to bat in an AL game. Advocates and opponents of the DH are equally passionate, and the game seems to be split between those who would like to abolish it all together and those who would like to make it universal.

"There are no sacred cows," Selig said several times during his conference call Tuesday, giving the committee wide latitude to make its own recommendations.

Two other committee members present on Tuesday's call, former Atlanta Braves GM John Schuerholz and current St. Louis Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa cited the DH rule as one worth revisiting, with La Russa expressing his disdain for it.

"I think the game is more complete without the DH," La Russa said.

Eliminating the DH, however, would be difficult to pull off, because such a rule change would be subject to collective bargaining and would almost certainly face stiff opposition from the union -- because the DH on a given AL team typically makes far more in salary than the 12th or 13th pitcher (or extra utility infielder) who corresponds to that roster spot on an NL team. (It has been suggested management could offer to expand all rosters from 25 to 26 players as a tradeoff, but it's hard to imagine MLB agreeing to that. And besides, that's getting a bit ahead of ourselves.)

An expansion of instant replay would be interesting. A condensing of the postseason schedule to eliminate superfluous off-days would be welcomed. An expansion of the Division Series from five to seven games would be fairer.

But the elimination of the DH? That would be monumental.

By Dave Sheinin  |  December 15, 2009; 3:05 PM ET
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Next: Here come the Orioles!


NOTHING is more ANNOYING in baseball than to watch some LAME pitcher , like Randy Johnson...come to the plate and whiff at the air........or pop up a is PATHETIC and a waste of time !!!!!!

Posted by: FletcherChristian1 | December 15, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

When I was a fan of the Yankees and the AL I loved the DH. However, since becoming a Nats fan and watching more and more NL games I've come to hate the DH. There is much strategy to the game when you don't have a DH. Also, the games are usually shorter.

Posted by: brothbart | December 15, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Nothing was more exciting than watching Livan Hernandez blow a Left Field foul line hugging drive that neted him 3 rbi's. Also, when do you pinch hit the lame Randy Johnson or leave him in? More good bunting by FAST players and less fat guys striking out. Eliminate the DH!!

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | December 15, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

What a blast it was to re-read the Svrugla Nats/Angels gamer. I think Guzman is the only player mentioned still with the Nats. Two things came through from reading it again: 1. The Nats were in 1st place by 2 games on June 14th!! 2. I LOVED the fire shown by Robinson and Guzman. Do any of the current Nats show anywhere near that level of passion?

Posted by: Scruffy3 | December 15, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

The Designated Hitter is clear evidence of evil in this world. In a game where there are no substitutions and in which a player, once removed, cannot return to the game, the DH is a glaring anomaly and a pox on the game. It creates significant differences between the leagues in terms of in-game strategy and roster decisions, and gives the AL team a distinct advantage in interleague/world series play in the AL park.

In baseball, players play on both sides of the ball - no exceptions. What the AL has is something less than baseball, an aberrant deviation from the otherwise perfectly balanced and wonderfully competitive game of (National League) baseball.

Posted by: chrisduckworth | December 15, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: chrisduckworth | December 15, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Ooh! the double switch! the one out bunt! keeps me on the edge of my seat. Beats the heck out of letting the best pitchers pitch and the best hitters hit. Love conceding outs because there are only 27 in a game.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 15, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

The game would be better off without the DH. Take LaRussa's opinion to heart - this is a guy who's spent considerable time managing in both leagues. Hitting is part of the game and pitchers should not be excluded. Defense is also part of the game so all hitters should have to play the field. It will make for more of a complete game.
However, I don't see it happening. The player's union will have a fit over it.
Babe Ruth began his career in the AL pitching for the Red Sox. Can you imagine if the man was never allowed to hit b/c he was just another "light hitting pitcher"?

Posted by: PhilliesPhan | December 15, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

For the DH - how about allowing a different pinch hitter for the pitcher each time his at bat comes up - and the pitcher stays in the game and the pinch hitter is still allowed to play later in the game - but can only pinch hit once per game for the pitcher. It means four or five guys off the bench would PH each game.

And as far as the tedious time of the games, allow only two pitchers per inning and eliminate this ridiculous changing of pitchers each batter so "they're bringing in the lefty to face the lefty" or the "righty to faces a righty" - that to me is more annoying than the DH and it's also the same principle as the people that oppose the DH saying it takes away from the strategy of the game. It's a luxury to a manager to be able to pitch six guys for 1/3 of an inning late in the game rather than having to decide who they're going to stick with. It's also a reason I change the channel.

Posted by: AsstGM | December 15, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Keep the post-season in October! 3 game Division series, 5 game LCS and 7 game World Series, with the next series starting 2 days after the last of the previous series ended. No night post-season games on weekends, no weekday post-season games starting after 6PM local so kids can actually watch baseball.

If you're going to make the DH universal, require aluminum bats and limit pitchers to 80 pitches per game (20 pitches for relievers).

Instant replay (manager's challenge) limited to 2 calls per game, balls and strikes excluded.

MLB cap on beer prices at 50 cents per fluid ounce. Mandatory half price beer during rain delays.

Posted by: ramgut | December 15, 2009 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Pardon the mixed-sport metaphor, but I think MLB will punt on this one for now.

The most sensible move, from my perspective, would be to change the DH interleague rule for the next three years so that games are played by the visiting league's rules -- the DH in NL parks, pitchers batting in AL parks. (The three-year stretch would affect all interleague divisional rotations.)

Doing this would enable fans of one league to see for themselves firsthand how the other league lives, and could alter some opinions one way or the other. Then MLB can better re-evaluate this topic for the 2013 season.

Posted by: VPaterno | December 15, 2009 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Why not just have a designated hitting roster and a designated fielding roster!! That way players can become just one dimensional, just like the DH's of the AL!!
Come to think of it, I use to get pretty annoyed watching Shaq clank free throws off the rim and backboard (if he hit them at all!!) I think the NBA should follow suit and create the designated free-thrower position!!

Becoming an "complete" player is putting too much pressure on these athletes!!! After all, they are only making millions!!

Posted by: dkidwell61 | December 16, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

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