To DH Or Not To DH: That Is The Question

Dan PieroniCorrespondent IOctober 30, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - OCTOBER 19:  Hideki Matsui #55 of the New York Yankees looks on during batting practice prior to the start of Game Three of the ALCS against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Angel Stadium on October 19, 2009 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Sometimes I wish baseball would get with the program.

It just perplexes me that Bud Selig allows one league to play one style of baseball and the other league to play another style of baseball.

The disconnect between the style of play is all over one position: the DH.

The American League has it, the National League doesn't, hence the different style of play in both leagues.

With the World Series now going on, one league's players are always at a disadvantage because each home ballpark calls for a different adherence to the rules.

This means that in New York, the Phillies have to elect a bench player as their DH, and in Philly, the Yankees pitchers must bat, even though they probably haven't taken many swings in the cage.

No matter how you slice it, one league is always going to be at a disadvantage in the batting order.

So why won't baseball just either adopt the DH in the National League or get rid of it altogether, forcing American League pitchers to take their hacks?

What follows is three arguments both for the DH, and against the DH. In the end, I will render a verdict for or against the use of the DH, and I encourage you to comment and let me know your view.

The Case For:

1. It allows for more excitement among the casual fan: In this era of power hitting, the casual baseball fan would rather see a 400-foot home run rather than a team play small ball. Most DH's are power hitters who can smash a ball over a fence, leading to more excitement for the casual fan.

2. American League pitchers can focus solely on pitching: American League Managers do not to worry about pinch hitting for the pitcher in a tight game especially if they're down by a run in the late innings. The very idea of a designated hitter is to allow a pitcher to concentrate solely on pitching. Therefore, he can focus on the what he has to on the mound next inning without having to worry about batting.

3. It allows for a more balanced lineup of hitters: Let's face it, when they bat, most National League pitchers either strike out, sacrifice, or lift a harmless pop fly to the infield. Although there are some exceptions such as Mike Hampton and Dontrelle Willis, pitchers are almost always an automatic out. A DH is someone who is usually a disciplined hitter who can take pitchers and drive up the pitch count. Thus, each hitter in a lineup with a DH is not an automatic out, and more pressure is on the pitcher to make the right pitch in a tough situation.

The Case Against:

1. Games are quicker: National League ames always seem to move at a brisk pace because most pitchers are automatic outs. In American League games, the DH forces the pitcher to take his time in deciding what pitch to throw. This is especially bad when runners are on base, because pitchers like to step off the rubber and batters like to call time when the pitchers are taking too long to throw. All this activity is time consuming, and causes games to become marathons. Those of us on the Eat Coast, cannot usually stay up for the conclusion of playoff games, because it's late and we have to go to work or school in the morning. With the automatic out, games move that much faster.

2. National League games are more strategic: If a National League pitcher is throwing a great game but his team is down a run in the late innings, his manager is forced into making a decision to keep the pitcher in the game or remove him in favor of a pinch hitter. The American League manager does not have to worry about this dilemma. A National League manager's job is usually job is tougher because he is more likely to be second guessed for the decision he made. Having to make this decision is hard, and it makes the game that much more exciting for fans because a win or a loss may hinge on that one decision.

3. National League prospect are not deprived roster spots: I'm not fond of people like Edgar Martinez and Frank Thomas because towards the end of their carreers all they could do was hit. I find it unfair that these one-dimensional players continue to occupy roster spots over 5-tool prospects who can add a lot more to the makeup of a team. In other words, I think the DH is just a sorry excuse for guys that are way past their prime to keep playing. As long as an American League GM feels that the veteran can still provide pop, blue chip prospects are going to have to toil in the minors because they lack the experience the veteran provides.

The Verdict

National league games seem quicker, I believe in the adage that pitching and defense wins championships, and I don't like seeing guys with beer bellies who can't run or field take roster spots away from ready prospects. In short, my verdict is clear.

Can the DH!