Handsome Tom Verducci’s latest column for SI.com asks the question: Is the designated hitter coming to a National League park near you?
I know. I know. Wondering when the National League will suddenly switch to designated hitters instead of continuing to stick with the meaningless tradition of pitchers batting ninth is akin to curiosity over when the United States is going to change its form of government from a republic to a parliamentary system. Sure, it probably makes a lot of sense, but no one who would like to remain alive is likely to hold their breath waiting for it to happen.
However, Verducci is at least realistic about the question.
No one believes the National League will adopt the DH imminently. Rather, the thinking is that baseball, as it continues its progressive era, has embarked on a path in which it seems inevitable that all of its teams play by the same rules.
It seems inevitable on multiple fronts. However, part of me wonders if it didn’t happen during the negotiations for the new collective bargaining agreement, will it happen at all.
I was surprised when the new CBA between clubs and players was announced during the off season. For something so uncontentious that occurred in the midst of unprecedented labour peace, it seemed to me that the players union received the short end of the stick. Verducci mentions that “the owners did that clubs will spend more on the free agent market with the amateur market constrained,” but I disagree. The caps on amateur spending have been offset by the massive increases to the luxury tax penalties that now have MLB’s typical big spenders rethinking their policies.
The players union should have worked to move toward implementing the DH in the National League, creating at least 15 new jobs for what is, typically speaking, a veteran player to whom the union normally caters. In addition, these veterans, in recent years, have experienced a decline in the amount of money they’ve received due to the smaller market for their services. Less than half of the MLB has any use for such a player.
Making the move, would allow National League teams to justify spending on more long term contracts, with the comfort of knowing that a broken down body in the later years of a deal would still be able to fill a position on a regular basis. We witnessed this comfort exploited by both the Los Angeles Angels and Detroit Tigers this off season with the signing of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, respectively.
Of course, what’s modern isn’t always better. While more offense, which a universal DH would certainly provide, may seem exciting, the reality as witnessed during Game Six of the World Series, is that pitchers batting create a more complex game in which strategies need to be enacted by managers.
A point to which Verducci argues well:
There is no question that the style of NL baseball is more interesting and nuanced than AL baseball. Yes, it’s a better game, the way chess is a better game than checkers. Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, just like Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, is one of the greatest games ever played because there was no DH.
The more I think about the issue, the more I tend to believe it’s a subjective matter that’s going to end up being sorted out due to financial considerations. It’s a matter of taste whether you’d rather see intricate strategies enacted or the best batters in the most important situations. Do you prefer symmetry or difference? Moving forward or tradition?
Of course, our preferences have little to do with what will ultimately be something for which the union pushes. In the meantime, with interleague play set to be something that occurs throughout the season, it would be nice to see AL rules in NL parks, and vice versa, as part of an experiment, and to see if NL fans can get used to what AL fans have so quickly grown accustom.
I’d be remissed not to mention that the equally handsome and bonus moustachioed Jay Jaffe also tackles the issue for Baseball Prospectus, behind a pay wall.
Also, voice your opinion in the Getting Blanked poll on Facebook.
And The Rest
Some team blog is joining a sports network. Whatever. [DJF]
Outfielder Drew Stubbs of the Cincinnati Reds dropped a bunt, and the earth shook. Personally, I have no problem with even the most powerful of sluggers occasionally dropping down a bunt as a means of keeping the opposition “honest.” [Dayton Daily News]
The Pittsburgh Pirates finally get it, man. [FOX Sports]
On Michael Pineda’s lack of velocity. [It's All About The Money Stupid]
Never mind Michael Pineda. The hardest fastball that Barry Zito threw in his Spring Training debut was 83 miles per hour. [McCovey Chronicles]
Bryce Harper on his slap hit from yesterday: “I just tried to Ichiro it.” [Washington Post]
Maybe Dan Duquette doesn’t actually deserve the bum rap he gets as the new general manager of the Baltimore Orioles. Maybe Jonah Keri wanted to write something a little bit different from everyone else. [Grantland]
Could it actually be? Could Johan Santana be good again? [Mets Blog]
Josh Hamilton sees an eventual move to first base in his future. No word on whether or not the Lord told him it was so. [Twitter]
Dusty Baker on the rehabbing Juan Francisco: “He’s got to stop eating.” [MLB.com]
Fluff piece alert: Joey Votto is a student of hitting. You don’t say! [Courier Journal]
Cory Hart will be out three to four weeks after knee surgery. Despite rumours to the contrary, the injury has nothing to do with wearing sunglasses at night. [MLB.com]
Paranoia over how the New York Mets handle injuries runs deep. [Capital New York]
I like Dustin Pedroia’s attitude to where he hits in the lineup. Jorge Posada’s supposed sulking over dropping in the lineup continues to blow my mind. [Sports Radio WEEI]
Charlie Sheen talks baseball with Joe Buck and Tim McKernan. This is so 2011. [St. Louis Today]
Carlos Guillen has called it a career. And it only came three years too late. [CBS Sports]
The Milwaukee Brewers and manufacturing runs. [Disciples Of Ueker]
The fish tank in Miami does look pretty cool. [Zimbio]
For links to all the posts at Getting Blanked, follow the blog on Twitter. [Twitter]
For even more Getting Blanked content, “like” our page on Facebook. [Facebook]
Warning: Your eyes will never be able to unsee this. [NotGraphs]