MLB's designated hitter controversy is old news and it ought to stay that way

It's time to stop arguing about the designated hitter rule.

For some reason, Major League Baseball can never seem to leave well enough alone.

The game is thriving, but the owners can't stop fiddling with it. Commissioner Rob Manfred hinted recently that there might be a change in the depth of the strike zone soon, and the long-running debate has resurfaced over the possible extension of the designated hitter rule to the National League.

There have always been legitimate arguments on all sides of the DH debate, but the debate has evolved from a three-sided issue -- which once included the slim possibility of getting rid of the DH completely -- into a two-sided one. Now, it's just a matter of whether to keep things the way they are or make the DH universal in American professional baseball.

The best reason to make the switch in the NL is to protect the big investment that every competitive team has to make in its pitchers by removing the possibility of an expensive starter getting hurt at the plate or on the basepaths.

That argument, however, doesn't necessarily resonate with the pitchers themselves, who seem more likely to gravitate to the National League when they have a choice. Some like to hit, but most just like to face opposing lineups that feature a pitcher at the plate the first couple of times through the lineup.

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw recently came out in favor of the status quo, as did Giants ace Madison Bumgarner last season. Even Cardinals star Adam Wainwright, who blew out an Achilles tendon leaving the batters box in April, came out strongly in favor of keeping the DH out of the NL.

My opinion hasn't changed in a long time: Let it be.

MLB did a big marketing survey back in the 1990s and found that there was no consensus among fans. The American League fans tended to favor it. The National League fans were, predictably, more bound to tradition.

It's just possible that the two league fan bases are still both right.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

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