Orioles: No Hope from Rob Manfred for National League DH


Apr 8, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred stands on the field before a game between the Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

As a fan of the Baltimore Orioles and the American League use of the designated hitter in place of pitchers batting, it was my hope that perhaps a change in Baseball Commissioner would lead to a change in the rules. But recent comments by Rob Manfred indicate that is not likely to become a reality, apparently for the primary reason that the debate about the varied rules sparks interest and debate, and he thinks that is good for the game.

The discussion rises to the surface again at this time due to the injury of a couple of National League pitchers. Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals will miss the rest of 2015 because of a torn Achilles, while Max Scherzer of the Nationals suffered a thumb injury and missed a start.

Manfred’s quote about the situation is this:

"“Over the long haul, I’m a status quo person on the DH. I think the difference between the two leagues is a source of debate among fans, and I’m a big believer in the idea of when people are talking about baseball it’s a good thing.”"

Another thing that people talk about baseball is that it is boring and low-scoring with little action and offense. Is that good?

And what is interesting about watching a pitcher attempt to bat and flail at the pitch after pitch? Yes, a few can handle themselves batting, including our own Zach Britton – he of the .625 career batting average and 1.750 OPS!  But honestly, Britton is very rare.

I understand the purist’s argument. There is the view that the pitcher should have to face the thrower on the other team … that there is justice and discipline about this. Yes, that was a nice time of baseball history, but the modern game is more specialized, and in my opinion is enhanced by the greater interest of an additional bat in the lineup.

And I am a former pitcher making this argument. The American League adopted the change in 1973, when I was a senior in high school. I was thankful for it in college, as, though I could freeze batters with nasty breaking stuff, I never did learn to un-freeze myself at the plate. And a fast two-seamer from a top-tiered pitcher was more than I could handle, so I was glad for the DH rule (though in my college era, both coaches had to agree upon it before the game).

But it is crazy to have this situation where one league uses it while another does not, especially now with interleague play. Before the leagues played each other, it was not as strange. But this makes no sense now. It puts the AL at a disadvantage in most cases, though in recent history the AL has had stronger teams and handled the situation adequately.

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Added to my own sentiments on this is a personal view of wishing to see more interleague play and a more balanced schedule. Again, many disagree with this; but really, why do we have to see only four of the other 29 MLB teams for almost half the schedule? The divisional games of 19 against each opponent totals 76 for the season, only five short of half of all games. I think that is crazy. Do you really enjoy seeing A-Rod and Big Papi 19 times a year? It would be more interesting to annually see all of the great players throughout baseball.

Let me finish with a hypothetical illustration. Do you think that the NFL would be better off if, say, the American Conference did not allow any scores from kickers – the only scoring allowed being to cross the goal line for TDs and conversions. But say that the National Conference allowed field goals and kicked extra points. Would that be good for the game? By Manfred’s measure, it would … because it would engender discussion and debate, and that is what is standard for what is good for the sport.

There are enough injuries already taking out so many of the great and talented pitchers in baseball, we don’t need to add another category of potential loss … especially for AL pitchers who are not accustomed to coming to the plate.

Next: Schedule implications of riot-postponed games

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