The pandemic may have solved MLB's most polarizing debate: Get ready for the universal DH

Mike Oz
·3 min read

There are some divisive topics people will never agree on — Coke vs. Pepsi, toiler paper over or toilet paper under, “Star Wars” vs. “Star Trek.” In baseball, the longest running, most polarizing debate for decades has been the designated hitter.

Some people love it and want it adopted universally around the game. Some people loathe it. There’s very little middle ground. It’s downright partisan.

And yet, after all the years, an easy solution may be on its way because of the coronavirus pandemic.

MLB Network’s Jon Heyman is reporting that the universal DH is expected to be adopted as part of the plan to restart baseball that the league and the players union are currently working through. There are contentious topics in the plan — mainly related to money. Safety also is a very important topic.

And the DH? After all these years of arguing, it sounds like it might just slide right into both leagues without much trouble.

If the universal DH is adopted, we'd lose out on Madison Bumgarner hitting. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
If the universal DH is adopted, we'd lose out on Madison Bumgarner hitting. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)

It’s kind of wild what a pandemic can do, isn’t it? Make everyone buy toilet paper and throw down their gloves regarding the DH.

This isn’t official yet, it’s pending approval of the larger deal to restart baseball, but with so many other things up for debate, it makes sense that the league and the union wouldn’t raise too much of a stink. It makes sense in a time of chaos and transition.

A DH gives pitchers one less thing to worry about. But its effects are much wider ranging than just fans losing out on seeing Madison Bumgarner or Clayton Kershaw at the plate. It affects the way bullpens are used, how lineups are constructed and — as Heyman points out — how rosters are built. Kyle Schwarber as a DH? Cubs love that. Dodgers, Mets, Nats? Happy. Happy. Happy.

The flip side of that is we lose the unexpected joy of when Bartolo Colon hits a homer.

What remains to be seen is whether the DH sticks around permanently in both leagues. Will the return of baseball be such a relief that even the biggest DH haters stop their years-long fight? Or, when life is back to normal, will we trudge up the old DH arguments like we used to?

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