- The Washington Times - Monday, June 9, 2008

Each week, Nationals beat writers Mark Zuckerman and Ben Goessling debate a baseball issue. This week: Should baseball get rid of the designated hitter?

MARK ZUCKERMAN: I’ll be interested to see what American League Boy here has to say about this, but I wholeheartedly support the abolition of the DH for the rest of eternity. It was a valid experiment back in the 1970s when pitching dominated across the sport and baseball needed more offense. But there’s more than enough offense in the game now, and that extra hitter isn’t necessary. Baseball survived for a century with every pitcher forced to hit. It can survive the next century without the DH.

BEN GOESSLING: I’ll preface this by admitting I grew up watching baseball under a Teflon sky, so I might not be much for tradition. But if you think about it, there’s a whole generation of American League fans who have never seen a game in which pitchers bat. We’re far enough into it now that the old way of doing things is, in fact, to have a DH. Beyond that, it provides a place for guys like David Ortiz, and though some might argue it takes the strategy out of late innings, I think it’s got a strategy all to itself. Is it tougher to play a sacrifice bunt from a pitcher or get a pinch hitter out, or is it tougher to deal with Big Papi in the ninth inning of a one-run game with Manny Ramirez on deck?

MZ: Sure, it’s tougher to deal with Papi. But does that necessarily make it better baseball? I don’t think so. Ask any big league manager which league is better, not to mention tougher, and 25 out of the 30 will say the NL. It requires more creativity, more strategy, more instinct. If the best argument for keeping the DH is to help prolong the careers of very large human beings who can’t catch a baseball, what’s the point of that?

BG: Oh, I think those guys exist in the National League, too. It’s just that in the AL, there’s somewhere to hide them. That might not lead to edifying baseball, but it can make things more exciting when a lineup is tougher to navigate. I’d agree that the NL, in most cases, is more of a thinking man’s game. But there’s more to baseball than double switch strategy. Just because the forks in the road are less obvious in the AL doesn’t mean they’re not there.

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