Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Will the designated hitter disappear?

Let's get back to the actual game of baseball for a minute. I'm looking forward to seeing what recommendations are made by the All-Star advisory committee convened by Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. The committee will have its first face-to-face meeting of the minds at the baseball owners' meeting in Arizona this week to consider major changes to the game.

An issue that has been gaining steam recently is a re-examination of the designated hitter rule. The DH spot has gained a lot of attention this month with Edgar Martinez, widely considered the best DH in baseball history, being eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame for the first time this year (receiving 36.2% of the vote). The committee is made up many baseball traditionalists so expect to hear a lot of talk about the elimination of the DH. But given that the players union would have a major problem with that, such a move would be extremely difficult.

If the DH is going to remain in place, I hope the committee recommends using a DH during interleague play in the regular season and in the World Series to eliminate the risk of American League pitchers suffering devastating injuries, like Chien-Ming Wang did with the New York Yankees in 2008.
Of course, the DH won't be the only thing on the agenda. Given the many missed calls during the 2009 playoffs, the expanded use of instant replay will be discussed. I don't expect old-school guys like Joe Torre and Mike Scioscia to actively advocate for replay, but I think the wider use of technology to correct on-field mistakes by umpires is inevitable.

I hope that instead of a lot of rhetoric, we get actual changes that help improve the game of baseball. To be continued...

Thanks to Kuyabribri via Wikipedia for the photo.

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