Last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the MLB had to start it’s season late. As well as shorten it by 102 games. With that brought some rule changes by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. Hoping they would help speed up the game. Including 7-inning doubleheaders, and a runner starting on second base in extras. But there was one that made more sense than the others. That was a Universal Designated Hitter, otherwise known as the Universal DH.
The DH was implemented by the American League in 1973. The National League on the other hand has never had a DH. Besides when they have played at AL team’s home parks since ’73. When that isn’t the case, the 9th spot in an NL team’s lineup is occupied by the pitcher they currently have in the game.
After last season, Manfred did away with the Universal DH for this season but kept the other two mentioned changes. As of recently though, the commissioner has come out and said he’s considering making more changes. Stretching doubleheaders back to 9-innings, taking away the runner in extras and a slight possibility of bringing back a Universal DH. That slight possibility should turn into a reality if Manfred wants to get back on fans good side.
Baseball “Purists” vs. The New Generation
With most things/interests in society, there’s a group that wants to keep things as they were instead of follow a new trend/direction. That can definitely be said for the sport of baseball. I think there are two groups surrounding rule changes in the sport.
On one hand we have the baseball “purists” or “old-heads”, whichever name works. These fans are usually 50 or over at this moment and grew up in a totally different era of the game. They don’t want to see the change that is happening to their beloved game. They like to keep to the “unwritten rules”, and having pitchers hit keeps the “purity of the game.” Some of them are understanding at least, but still won’t give in on their idea of what the game should be.
On the other hand we have the New Generation. The New Generation is comprised mostly of the Baseball “Purists” kids and grandkids. The ones who grew up at the tail-end of their parents era of baseball, and are old enough now to gather their own opinions. I am a part of this group.
We change with the times. We like the showboating after home runs, the celebrations after big strikeouts. All of the flash, we like most of it. I say most because we still know when it’s unwarranted or too much per se. At least I like to think we all do. We also don’t want to see a pitcher hitting in big spots early in a game. Those moments could change the outcome of the game, or even the whole season depending on the timing in the year.
Pros Heavily Outweigh Cons
Any one who is a part of the “Purists” or even other fans who aren’t huge fans of a Universal DH. I ask of you to make a pros and cons list, see if it changes your mind. It definitely should. The pros outweigh the cons as much as a ton of bricks outweighs one measly feather.
While I could easily lay out the several pros and the very few, if any, cons. I am going to highlight just one thing from the pros list that should be the biggest factor in Rob Manfred’s decision.
Safety Of Pitchers
The most important thing of course is the safety of the players. Pitchers hitting and possibly running the bases puts that in jeopardy. Super sports agent Scott Boras said earlier this year about there not being a Universal DH this season “This is going to cost more time and more injuries to players than COVID will.” Which at this point in the season hasn’t been correct per se, but he hasn’t been wrong in a sense.
Zac Gallen, a pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks, suffered a hairline stress fracture in his forearm earlier this season. It happened while taking batting practice near the end of Spring Training. Which sidelined him for a few weeks. Leaving the Diamondbacks without their top pitcher for the first couple weeks of the season.
That in itself could have an effect on more things than just the outcome of the game. If a team loses its star pitcher that could easily affect ticket sales, food sales etc., So if I were an owner of the Diamondbacks or any team that has had a pitcher get injured due to batting, I’d be 100% behind the Universal DH.
Gallen is a NL pitcher which means he sees at least two at bats each start. So switch that to an AL pitcher and it’s much different. AL starting pitchers have at most around 6 chances at the plate all year during interleague play. Which means they don’t take batting practice a lot, if at all. I’m sure they aren’t doing baserunning drills either. That leaves more room for injury.
It takes a toll on the league as a whole, not just the team itself when a pitcher goes down with an injury whatsoever. Even more when it’s from something like batting or baserunning. Especially if it’s a guy like Jacob Degrom or Gerrit Cole.
Now Is The Ideal Time
The AL has had the DH for almost 50 years, Manfred is in the perfect spot to make the NL have it too. Younger fans now would love to grow old and have their kids grow up with a game that is more consistent, safer and more fun to watch. Whether it be now or 2023, it’s time to give the next generation of fans what they want.
-Zach Derosia (@Derosia_14)
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