As a predendum to this... it occurs to me (after having been msged) that no one actually explains very well what a designated hitter is, so here goes:
The designated hitter (or DH) is a player who is designated to bat in the spot that would normally be occupied by the pitcher. When a DH is used, a team's batting lineup still contains nine hitters... the pitcher is simply replaced in favor of this hitter. The designated hitter does NOT play in the field, and if the DH is moved to a spot in the field, that team forfeits the use of a DH and the pitcher must then bat in the order (this is covered in Rule 6.10 of the Official Major League Rules).
Excuse the pun, deep_thought
, but it seems that you didn't think very deeply when writing your node. The analogies you describe are poor at best. Why? Because baseball is unlike the NHL, NBA, and even the NFL. Major League Baseball is comprised of two entities, or leagues, which evolved completely independently of each other, survived where other leagues (e.g. the Federal League) failed, and became the single entity known today as Major League Baseball
. Until very recently (and still, only in a limited fashion) the two leagues played separately, meeting only at the All-Star Game
and the World Series
. The NFL evolved from the old AFL and NFL, but almost immediately began full fledged interconference play.
There is nothing inherently unfair about the DH rule. For interleague play, the rule is clearly defined: If the game takes place in an American League ballpark, both teams get a DH. If the game takes place in a National League park, neither team does.
The most common argument against it is that it takes strategy out of the game. (*shrug*) Whatever. Do you watch a baseball game to see an outstanding pitching performance, a terrific defensive play, a timely hit-and-run, or a mammoth home run? Or do you watch a baseball game to see Bobby Cox make a brilliant double-switch in the top of the seventh. Exactly. There's still plenty of strategy to go around without making sure rosters are totally depleted by game's end.
The other argument that people give is that the MLBPA will never allow it to be abolished because it creates jobs. Guess what: it doesn't create a single major league job. The introduction of the designated hitter in 1973 has not yet added a single roster spot to Major League Baseball. What it does do is prolong the careers of aging sluggers, who are long-time veterans and are in many cases the MLBPA representatives for their respective teams.
People also like to argue that the designated hitter is an abomination to the game, since he only plays half the game. All he's got to do is bat! The same people, however, say nothing about the job of a middle reliever like, say, Rick Honeycutt. In 387 games with the Athletics, Honeycutt notched 406 1/3 innings. That's just about an inning per game. On top of that, the Athletics played 1296 games over that span, meaning that Honeycutt played less than 4% of the team's total innings. If the DH was abolished, the likely replacement on a team's roster would be a utility infielder or a middle reliever. How is that in any way better than a designated hitter?
The designated hitter also allows people like Edgar Martinez, who deserves to play in the major leagues, to play in the major leagues. It also allows RBI men like Jose Canseco, Harold Baines, and Eddie Murray remain productive in the sport that they love.
Oh, and by the way, the designated hitter was first proposed by the National League in 1928, but was voted down by the American League. So, before you point that finger, you should know who created the monster.
, that's not true. The NL and AL differ on several rules. Such as...
- In the National League, a trip to the mound end when the manager leaves the dirt mound. In the American League, a trip to the mound ends when the manager crosses the foul line. Seems like a petty rule, but they enforced last year during interleague play. An American League manager had to change pitchers because of it.
- The American League has a 1 a.m. curfew on all games. Any game not finished before 1 must be continued at a later time. The National League has no such curfew.
- Not a rule per se, but just a difference between AL and NL: The AL counts attendance by tickets purchased, while the NL counts attendance by game day turnstyle count.