With 15 teams in each league, it's time to make the DH universal

You either love it or you hate it.

You think it's one of the best things to happen to baseball. Or you think it's the biggest travesty ever perpetrated on the game.

This is what happens when fans discuss the designated hitter: they tend to deal in absolutes.

But with the Houston Astros moving to the American League and interleague play happening almost every day — the Los Angeles Dodgers visit Camden Yards this weekend for three games against the Orioles — it's time for another look at the DH.

I say that because now there's renewed talk that the DH could be adopted by the National League as early as 2015, so both leagues would play by the same rules.

To which I say: it's about time.

Look, if you like seeing pitchers trudging to the plate and waving futilely at a few fastballs before striking out and skulking back to the dugout, knock yourself out.

I can't stand it.

The so-called "baseball purists" are always yakking about how much "strategy" is involved in the National League, with its emphasis on small ball and managers making double switches and all the rest.

Please. I'll take some big, hulking DH with forearms like Popeye smacking a three-run homer over "strategy" every time.

I could go on and on about the merits of the DH, which has been around since 1973.

It adds more offense to the game and makes it more exciting. It extends the careers of sluggers who can't play the field anymore but can still wow us with tape-measure shots.

But, most of all, it keeps pitchers from picking up a bat and wasting everybody's time.

Have you ever seen, say, Tommy Hunter hit? It's not a pretty sight.

Just ask Chris Davis.

"I like having the DH, because in interleague play, it gives us a chance to really get on our pitchers who think that hitting is completely easy," the Orioles' first baseman said with a chuckle. "Tommy Hunter faced [New York Mets lefty] Johan Santana last year. ... And [Santana] gets him 0-2 and we're screaming 'Throw him a changeup!'

"Because everyone knows Santana's got a great changeup. And he looks over [at the Orioles dugout] and kind of smiles. And he threw it and Tommy missed it by like 20 feet. He was laughing and it was fun."

Yeah, but maybe not for the fans who have to watch a pitcher flail away like a blindfolded kid hacking at a pinata.

The Orioles I spoke to the other day were divided in their feelings about the possibility of the NL adopting the DH.

"I like the fact it's in one league and not the other," Davis said. " I think it makes the World Series a little more interesting, that both managers have to deal with putting a lineup out, one with the pitcher hitting and one with the DH hitting. ... I think it kind of levels the playing ground in the World Series."





Eduardo A. Encina

Eduardo A. Encina

Orioles beat writer
Peter Schmuck

Peter Schmuck

Sports Columnist
Dan Connolly

Dan Connolly

Orioles and national baseball writer
Dean Jones Jr.

Dean Jones Jr.

Orioles editor