Apr 27, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz reacts by flexing his muscles after hitting a two-run double against the Houston Astros during the second inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Red Sox Roundtable: Should The DH Be Used for Both Leagues or Eliminated?

This week’s Red Sox Roundtable discussion concerns the Designated Hitter rule. Is it good for baseball? Should the two leagues decide to institute it in both leagues? Should they abolish it and set the table straight with pitchers hitting for themselves in both leagues? Or should it be left as is since after 40 years it adds to the color and pageantry of the grand old game.

On April 6, 1973 when the Yankees Ron Blomberg dug into the batter’s box against Luis Tiant the square off ushered in the era of the Designated Hitter in the American League, a rule change in one league only that has profoundly changed the way players approach the game, fans are entertained by it and how AL baseball teams strategize over it. I was 15-years old, a rabid baseball fan and player when the rule was instituted. You won’t have to get out your Ouija board to guess which one of the two I still am today.

I’m an AL guy. Always have been, always will be. But the purity of the National League approach is more entertaining in my estimation. It’s the intrigue and drama of knowing that a pitcher who just drilled a guy in the ribs has to stand in the batter’s box the next inning. It’s knowing that even a weak hitting hurler can lay down a sweet bunt to move a teammate into scoring position. It’s that moment, as happened on Opening Day, when the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw had a stellar outing on the bump and greatly helped his cause by jacking a homer en route to a 4-0 Dodgers win.

Don’t get me wrong. As a Mainer transplanted in Virginia, Red Sox blood runs through my veins and always will. I live and die with the team’s ups and downs. I actually think Truck Day is cool. I’ve got a dozen Red Sox caps (some rarely worn so I’ll have a nice one to go with my formal wear), drinking glasses, shot glasses, a 2004 World Championship blanket, Christmas ornaments and apparel of all stripes. Yeah, it runs that deep.

But there are those times after a late night Sox game posting when my wandering eye turns it’s lusty attention to the seduction of a Giants/Dodgers or Cardinals/Phillies tilt, a siren song that I simply can’t ignore.

So now the question is thrown open to you and our crack BSI writing staff. Which is it? Sound off!

Should The DH Be Used for Both Leagues or Eliminated?

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Tags: Boston Red Sox Designated HItter

  • John Fahrer

    The few “traditionalists” who want the DH to go away are fighting a losing battle. The NL is actually the only league in all of organized baseball that doesn’t use the DH. Everywhere else (AL, Far East, Australia, Latin America, NCAA, high school) does implement the DH rule. If there was ever a proposal to remove the DH in MLB, the players’ union would be up in arms. But I would definitely miss the current NL style of baseball were it to adopt the DH rule.

    It’ll come down to either the NL adopting the DH or just remaining as is.

  • Harry Burnham

    I think the DH is going to come to the NL at some point along the line. I really like the DH as a concept, especially considering it can save big money pitchers from injury. But I’m really not wild about the 1-dimensional DH types, like the David Ortiz and Jim Thome’s of the world. The DH will surely come to the NL sooner rather than later, but it will be with guys who can play the field as well.

    • John Fahrer

      I look for the Red Sox to become DH by committee after Ortiz retires. The other AL teams that practice it get good production out of it.

      Agree that the DH will probably be adopted by the NL at some point since interleague play has been expanded. It definitely won’t be the other way around with what I’ve mentioned about the players’ union.

      • Aidan Flynn

        Both of you make really good points, and I agree with both of you in that the NL will eventually succumb to the DH.

        John, you’re dead on with your points in that the player’s union would NEVER allow the DH to be removed because of its ability to prolong career and as another well paying job.

        Harry, I think you’re right in that the 1-Dimensional DH’s are a dying breed. Teams really seem to like the versatility a DH by committee approach provides, allowing to rest players while still keeping their bats in the lineup.

        While the current NL style of play may be aesthetically pleasing to some, I would much rather prefer keeping big money arms as protected as possible, especially given the already high attrition and injury rate of pitchers. Also, I’m not a huge fan of watching of 99% of pitchers swing a bat, no matter if they can drop a sweet bunt or not. Give me someone that can at least look decent swinging the bat, and I’d be perfectly fine with the DH in the NL.

        • John Fahrer

          For all the “traditionalists” who whine about the NL being at a disadvantage in interleague, they actually get to upgrade their roster in an AL park (granted the bench player plugged in at DH likely isn’t a catalyst, he’s still more productive with the bat than the pitcher) while the AL teams have to downgrade going to an NL park and their pitchers are at a higher risk for injury since it’s the only time of year they pick up a bat.

  • http://bosoxinjection.com/ Earl Nash

    The DH has bastardized the game of baseball. The game was designed to create a balance of forces. Ever wonder why the 90-feet to 1b works so well for grounders; close plays?

    My primary gripe is that it removes strategy from the game and it is the chess-like moves that make it such a cerebral game.

    Managers should pay a price when they pinch hit for their pitcher.

    The sacrifice bunt by pitchers creates tension and drama.

    If increasing attendance at games is going to be our goal, what other ways can we ruin the symmetry of this game of delicate and precise balances? Maybe the “robot pitchers” suggested in the book EXTRA INNINGS, about how Ted Williams returns, when his frozen head is attached to the body of a young tennis player?

    Am I a Luddite? Maybe, but I support instant replay, especially in post-season games with so much on the line:


    For the sports fan seeking high scoring and thrills, try arena football.

    To the DH, I say “bollocks”!

    • John Fahrer

      If we didn’t have a DH, there’s no 04 WS title. Highly doubt Curtis Leskanic would’ve homered in Game 4.

      • John Fahrer

        Again, I get where people don’t like the DH and that the game’s original design was one where the pitcher was in batting order. But the bottom line is that it’ll never be revoked. It would mean less position players being able to prolong their careers and lesser salaries. Just something the MLBPA doesn’t take kindly too.

        If it makes a traditionalist feel any better, the concept of the DH was Connie Mack’s idea. Mack actually proposed the use of a designated hitter back in the Golden Era.

  • Conor Duffy

    I really love the strategy and thrill of National League baseball, but I also like the hard-hitting of the American League. Although I think it’s much more likely that the DH becomes a league-wide thing, I wouldn’t mind things staying just the way they are.

  • ThisWeekinRed

    It’s not really a matter of what baseball should do with the DH. The fact is that it will never be eliminated because it would reduce jobs and shorten the avenue for veteran players to easily extend their careers. Try convincing the union to scrap the DH. As for me, DH era baseball is all I’ve ever known and I like it. I just can’t get excited about watching a pitcher lay down a bunt every three innings. But that’s just me. I like the DH and offense and would like to see the NL adopt it as well.