Leyland wants uniformity, referencing the NFL’s two conferences as examples.
“We’re the only sport where they have different rules,” Leyland said. “That doesn’t make sense to me. Synchronize it. Whichever way you want is fine … But at some point, you need to get it the same.”
If it’s not broken …
Major league players don’t appear to have a clear-cut opinion about the DH rule. During the Marlins’ April visit to Target Field, Giancarlo Stanton proclaimed himself a supporter of the DH moving to the NL. His reasons: rest for the body, protecting pitchers, more offense. From the chatter he’s heard, he said, a players’ union vote likely would favor adopting the DH in the NL 60 percent to 40 percent.
Veteran Twins infielder Jamey Carroll, who has experience in both leagues, said that would be a mistake. The strategy and small-ball philosophy of the NL are what make the World Series so special, he said. It would also mean fewer jobs for role players like himself, and more for big hitters like David Ortiz.
Carroll also attempted to refute the scheduling concerns by pointing out that every team plays the same number of games in NL and AL cities, just at different times of the year.
“If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” Carroll said.
Ryan Doumit, who signed with the Twins last year after seven seasons with Pittsburgh, cited all the good things the designated hitter role and the American League has done for his career. Then he said the rule doesn’t belong in the National League, adding that it would hurt the tradition of the game. Josh Willingham, another player who splits time at DH for the Twins, agreed.
“I’ve dealt with some concussions and other injuries in the past and [the designated hitter] allowed me to still be in the lineup as DH three times a week, still get my fix of catching, and be in the outfield,” Doumit said. “But there’s gotta be some sort of difference between the two leagues.”
The solution is eliminating the DH, said Correia, in his first year in the AL after 10 in the NL. He likes to hit. Baseball experts say that will never happen.
With so many big names in baseball settling into full-time DH jobs, it’s becoming more about career longevity and money. Examples include former Twins Ortiz and Jim Thome, and before the time of monster contracts, ex-Twins great Paul Molitor.
Billion-dollar TV deals, $100 million contracts, the love of home runs — all are reasons the DH is likely here to stay.
Other solutions mentioned to solve the debate include the addition of a 26th player for an interleague series, or making the DH rule a required piece of interleague play in every city.
“It gets brought up every few years. For a number of years, the American League was in favor and the National League was not. Until the powers that be reach a resolution, nothing will change,” said Bill Smith, who has played a role on the MLB scheduling committee and is Twins special assistant to the president and general manager. “Maybe the solution is to stay status quo.”