Saturday, June 18, 2011

Time to phase out the designated hitter

It's that time of the year again, folks. Interleague play means it’s time to question the wisdom of having a designated hitter in one league while pitchers bat for themselves in the other league. Here's my solution: phase out the DH.

The DH should be a major part of the next negotiating session between Major League Baseball and the players’ union. The union will likely object to the potential loss of jobs for guys such as David Ortiz and Jorge Posada who can’t play in the field anymore. But if you put a timeframe for the elimination of the DH, say five years, you give older guys like Ortiz and Posada time to age out of their jobs naturally while giving American League teams the time to get used to life without the designated hitter, in essence phasing out the position.

In the meantime, I advocate allowing the DH to be used during interleague games during the regular season to prevent unfortunate injuries to pitchers not used to having bats in their hands (a.k.a. Chien- Ming Wang). American League teams can take the next few years to teach their pitchers how to hit in non-game situations (early in spring training) and proper base-running techniques to avoid injuries on the basepaths. National League managers can take advantage of an opportunity they normally do not have by giving their position players a half a day of rest by slotting them in as the DH, even in their home ballparks.

But let’s make it clear that this arrangement ends in five years when both leagues will finally be rid of the DH and baseball can be played the way it was meant to be played, with everyone getting a chance at the plate.

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