DH In The NL? That’s Not On Owners’ Meeting Agenda: But Sliding Into Second Base Is
In all the confusion of the Warriors, the NFL Playoffs, and hell, let's say Donald Trump, many fans have failed to notice that there's some discussion of the National League adopting the designated hitter. Now before you get too excited, the discussion so far has been St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak saying earlier this week that there’s “been more momentum to add the DH rule to the NL."
Who knows where he gets this, because the owners haven't formerly discussed it lately, and their quarterly meetings in Coral Gables, Fla., aren't until Wednesday and Thursday. And the DH isn't on the agenda. But here's what is:
1. Sliding into second base. If you know me, you know that I hate the "neighborhood rule." That's when a second baseman or shortstop, on a force play at second, doesn't actually have to touch second base while in possession of the ball before he relays it to first for a double play. That's because a runner is usually barreling in toward him, and if the fielder actually touches the bag while holding the ball, he could get his legs broken.
And the runner isn't required to slide directly into the bag: he can widen the lane and slide seemingly into the outfield in order to disrupt the relay throw. It's all pure insanity, and IMO needs to be cleaned up. This issue will be atop on the owners' meeting agenda beginning on Wednesday. MLB.com:
The topic was highlighted when Chase Utley's takeout slide broke the leg of Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada during the National League Division Series. Any changes must be negotiated with the Major League Baseball Players Association.
MLB chief baseball officer Joe Torre noted during the General Managers Meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., last week that for a second straight year, MLB is experimenting with requiring runners in the Arizona Fall League to slide directly into second base.
"Basically it's sort of tied into the neighborhood play with the replay, too, because that was based on the fact that we want to keep the infielders safe," Torre said.
The owners will also discuss tweaking the rule in which a fielder can hold a tag on a runner after a slide, and the runner is called out if his foot leaves the base even for a split second. It's happening more and more due to the advent of replay challenges, and Torre thinks it's a bit unfair.
Also on the agenda: expanding the protective netting in the home plate area, and beginning discussions on the new collective bargaining agreement (the current one expires on Dec. 1, 2016).
And while the DH rule could in theory be discussed, it's not on the agenda and there's no serious move to change it.
SF Giants' CEO Larry Baer, in fact, says the NL will only adopt the DH over his lifeless corpse. SFGate:
“We are against the DH in the National League,” Baer said. “We believe in the strategy around the traditional game.”
For the NL to adopt the DH rule, 75 percent of owners would need to give their approval (23 of 30), meaning eight NL owners would need to side with the 15 American League owners. It also would need to be collectively bargained with the players’ union.
Why this keeps coming up is beyond me. One of the things that makes baseball unique is that there is this rule in one of the leagues that pitchers are required to hit, and a rule in the other league that they can send up a surrogate. Kind of like the draft rules in the Civil War: if you got drafted and were rich enough, you could pay someone else to go for you.
Why do the rules have to be uniform? Let's revel in our differences. I think that the NL should have a slightly bigger ball, and the AL should have a higher, towering pitcher's mound.
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