Free Markets, Free People

Let’s get REALLY controversial

Now, before I ask this, keep in mind that I’m a National League fan, being a life-long Astros fan, as well as a Dodgers fan. I also like the Rangers and the Tigers, but I’m primarily an NL devotee. As such, I am inclined against the designated hitter, because I grew up watching the National League brand of Baseball, prefer it, and only later developed a taste for AL teams.

But here’s the thing. Albert Pujols is 31 and has a shiny new 10-year contract with the Angels. As of today, Prince Fielder(28) is going home to Detroit for 9 years with the Tigers. That puts them at 41 and 37, respectively, when their contracts are up. Do we really think Pujols will be holding down the first bag at 41? Jeez, will Prince Fielder be able to play first at 31 with his…ahem…physical stature. No, of course not.

But, they can work out big deals in the AL because of the Designated Hitter rule. Even when they can’t play a position any more, big hitting still gives them a place on the roster.

But what NL team can take a risk on long-term contract for a big-hitting position player in his 30s? Doesn’t that force star hitters into the AL, and make the NL a weaker league offensively? I mean, not only do you have the pitcher at bat, but the remaining players are lesser sluggers than the AL guys. Is the NL really all about pitching, or is it just weaker hitting?

There seems to be a bit of a push to make the DH apply to the NL, in order to keep the leagues competitive offensively. The reasoning is that, at this point, everybody but the NL uses the DH, and it’s a bit silly for the two major leagues to play two different brands of baseball. And the DH really does result in a different kind of game. Not only would applying the DH to the NL equalize the game, it would allow sluggers—and teams—more options to keep sluggers kin the game, even when they get a bit too old to hold down a position well.

Could the NL just give in and accept the DH? Should they?

Dale Franks
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6 Responses to Let’s get REALLY controversial

  • No. In fact, not only no but hell no. The DH kills much of the strategy and enjoyment of the game having a pitcher bat forces. I for one, don’t want to see that go. And, it is one of the primary reasons I’m an NL fan. What next, aluminum bats?

  • Agree that both leagues should play the same rules. Having said that, National League baseball is the way the game was meant to be played. Unfortunately, I don’t really see it ever changing. NL owners rightfully want to keep their game the way it is, but the players union knows that aging sluggers that can’t be hidden anywhere in the field still tend to be paid pretty well.

  • if the NL adpots the DH rule, I’ll go watch Lacrosse or women’s field hockey instead. The DH dumbs down the game. And those contracts to Pujols or Fielder are insane regardless of the DH. You think fat Prince will even be able to DH towards the end of that contract? Guys with that body type tend to break down all at once, neither one of them will be anything but a terrible drag on the team for the last 3-4 seasons of those deals.

  • The big talk here in Houston is the New Owner’s trial balloon of changing the name of the Astros. What do you think about that?