Home Baseball There’s still a chance the DH heads to the NL

There’s still a chance the DH heads to the NL

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On January 11, 1973, the owners of the 24 teams in Major League Baseball decided in a vote to allow American League teams to use a “pinch-batter” that would bat in the pitcher’s spot throughout the game.

On April 6, 1973, Yankees’ player Ron Blomberg made MLB history when he became the first designated hitter in a game against the Boston Red Sox.

And in the American League, the designated hitter has been used ever since.

But the big topic has been whether or not the National League will begin using designated hitters.

According to MLB players’ union chief Tony Clark, the 40-year drought of no DH in the National League could very well end in the short term future.

“It has been a topic, as I’m sure you know, a topic of discussion going back the last two bargaining agreements,” Clark told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Nothing has changed at this point in time. But I am guessing come 2016 that conversation will come up again.”

He later stated he would have to poll the National League players and see what the feedback would be on whether they were supportive or against the idea.

The debate on the designated hitter is typically split into two sides: those who believe the National League should adopt the rule, and those who believe the American League should get rid of it. With teams now taking place in “interleague games”, in which the American League and National League face off, the topic of giving one team an advantage over the other has been a major focal point, and, according to Clark, has been on the minds of many.

“The idea that you would be in September with a possible division title on the line with a team who was not used to having a designated hitter or a team that was used to having a designated hitter not having it and how that could affect the overall outcome,” Clark said.

One fact regarding the designated hitter it that it has been shown to extend the career of many players who otherwise would most likely decline in production faster. Examples includes Edgar MartinezDavid Ortiz, Jim Thome, Frank Thomas, and George Brett, who had (and in the case of Ortiz, still are) been long, durable hitters, and as they got older, being used less in the field and still having them bat played a role in their longer careers.

Pitchers still hit for themselves in the National League, and when American League teams visit National League parks, they cannot use designated hitters. In reverse, when NL teams visit AL parks, they use designated hitters, so both leagues still occasionally get a taste of the opposite league’s rules.

As for having both leagues consist of the DH position, it is a debate that has raged on for 40 years, and doesn’t seem to slow down anytime soon…

 

 

(Photo credit: CBSSports)

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