In 1973 two things entered the world of Major Baseball that would forever change the landscape of how we know the game, one was the greatest owner in professional sports (George Steinbrenner) and the other was the inception of the Designated Hitter into the American League. In the thirty-seven seasons that have occurred since Major League Baseball Rule 6.10 was put into place several other leagues (the NCAA, most amateur leagues and Minor League Baseball) have adopted the rule as well, but not the MLB’s own National League. The senior circuit has yet to welcome the rule to their side of MLB and it cause huge disparity when it comes to the All-Star Game, the World Series and also Interleague Play.
For example since the Designated Hitter was allowed in the MLB All-Star Game (1989) the American League has 17 of the 22 contests leaving the National League with just four wins and a tie that happened in 2002. This is a clear disadvantage to the NL players because the AL’s lineup is already set with a DH that is voted in by the fans (generally a guy who has more than 20 homers by the break). This has become even more of an unfair advantage since the “this one counts” concept was adopted in 2003; the AL has had the home-field advantage in the Fall Classic every season with the exception of this year’s World Series.
Now take a look at the World Series, since the DH has been used in the Fall Classic how we know it (in AL parks only since 1986) as opposed to the ten years prior (from 1976-1985 it was only used in even numbered years) the American League have once again had the advantage over their counterparts from the National League. In the 23 World Series that have taken place since (and including) 1986 the MLB Champs have come from the Junior Circuit 14 times as opposed to just nine from the Senior Circuit. Now grant it there are some games that are played with the DH (games in AL parks) and others that are played without one (games in NL parks) but once you add the “this one counts” factor into the equation it is clear that there have been more World Series games played with a DH than without one.
Finally take a look at Interleague Play (which is probably the most exciting part of the regular season); since its inception in 1997 the AL leads the all-time series with 1,808 wins as opposed to just 1,652 by the NL (at the conclusion of Interleague Play for the 2010 season). To make the situation seem even bleaker for the NL they have won just four season series versus the AL since Interleague Play has begun and haven’t collected a season series victory since the 2003 campaign.
When will the madness end? When will Major League Baseball decide to even the playing field?
I am not saying that the MLB should rule to either do away with the DH or enforce the National League to implement it; I’m simply saying both leagues need the same exact rule to the tee. I mean seriously in the NFL the AFC doesn’t allow more skill players (running back, wide receivers and tight ends) on the field at one time than the NFC does. In the NBA the Eastern Conference doesn’t let six men step on to the hardwood while the West just uses the standard five. In the NHL the Western Conference teams don’t allow the presence of two goalies as opposed to one in the East. It is completely equal down the line in all of the other major pro sports leagues in America, so when will the MLB join us in the 21st century. Probably around the same time they join us in the 21st century when it comes to the use of instant replay as well, but that is a different argument for a different time.
To place it in common everyday terms, just imagine if there were two different sets of rules regarding employees (that had the same exact positions or titles) that worked on one side of the office as opposed to those who worked on the other side; would that be fair? If your answer is yes then you don’t live in the same world that I do.
Message to commissioner Bud Selig and the rest of the powers to be in Major League Baseball; something has to be done about the Designated Hitter rule immediately. Either have it in both the AL and NL or just absolutely scrap it completely, it has been 37 years in the making. It really is the right thing to do; especially now in a game that has done nothing but wrong over the past decade and a half.
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