Major League Baseball has moved methodically to eliminate many distinctions between the American and National leagues in recent years, and Thursday, Commissioner Rob Manfred indicated there is momentum toward perhaps the most significant such move: a unified designated hitter.
“I think that is a continuing source of conversation among the ownership group and I think that the dialogue actually probably moved a little bit,” said Manfred at the conclusion of the quarterly owners’ meeting on Thursday.
The AL has employed the DH since 1973. The NL has not adopted it.
This season, pitchers are hitting a modest .112, and while fans enjoy the occasional rush of a Max Scherzer or Madison Bumgarner surprisingly driving in a run, pitchers are exposed to injury at the plate or basepaths – witness the hamstring injury suffered in an intraleague game that sent Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka to the disabled list.
Abolishing the DH would likely face opposition from the players’ union, which would foresee many well-paying jobs disappearing, so adding the DH to the NL would likely be a smoother road for Manfred.
Among other topics discussed at the meetings in New York:
–Manfred said the viral video of former New York Mets manager Terry Collins’ mic’d-up tirade was removed by MLB. Manfred said his office is trying to determine how the video from a game in 2016 was leaked. According to the collectively bargaining agreement with umpires, interactions involving mic’ed umpires would not be made public.
–On defensive shifts and the possibility of an illegal-defense rule: “We’re in the discussion-analysis phase on that topic, not the decision-phase.”
–MLB may look at more “fan friendly” schedule initiatives for 2019 that would include possible two-game weekend series on just Saturday and Sunday.