Dunlap: This 'Ban the DH' campaign is way off

The DH isn't getting banned -- it will get expanded

Colin Dunlap
July 09, 2018 - 2:43 pm

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Let me preface all this with how much I like Pirates broadcaster Greg Brown. I've known the man a long time and never, ever, ever known him to be anything but first class. Greg is a wonderful person, a good friend to those fortunate enough to be able to call him one (and the list currently is at about 50 million because he's so kind) and as we know him most, a great ambassador for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Through thick and thin. And then a little more thin. And even some more thin. 

But, man alive, do I disagree with Greg on something. I disagree with Greg mightily on something --- this whole getting rid of the designated hitter nonsense agenda he seems to pushing on Pittsburgh. Now, I can tell some of the charade and carrying on is part showman on Greg's part, but it really feels like the root of it for him is real. 

You can't turn the Pirates broadcast on nowadays without hearing "Ban the DH! Ban the DH!"

There is a hashtag and everything, apparently. There's a big groundswell. People make signs and bring them to PNC Park. Maybe there's a secret handshake or some patch you can get to iron on your jacket, hell, I don't know. It seems like it is the "in" thing to do right now if you are a Pirates fan --- I mean there has to be some rallying point, huh --- as this team has continued to sputter. It really hit a high point on Sunday when Pirates pitcher Nick Kingham collected his first MLB hit and RBI with one mighty swing. Wow, the "Ban the DH" people waved their "Ban the DH" towels with force only matched by the Mount Washington tornado. 

That's great. But I got news for you --- the DH isn't going anywhere. In the next decade there is far more of a chance for it to expand than anything else. 

Anywho, back to the Pirates game on Sunday against the Phillies ... 

A few minutes earlier, before the Kingham hit, I was listening to Brown and Steve Blass on the radio call of the game on the flagship home of the Pirates, 93.7 The Fan. The requisite "Ban the DH!" talk was in full form -- and, again, this was even before the Kingham hit. At one point, Brown challenged the audience to give him one good reason why the DH needs to come to the National League. He wouldn't relent and, in a way, I commend him for sticking to his guns in his argument. Damn it, he doesn't want the DH and he's going to (try to) see it through even as if many see his campaign as fruitless. Brown then went on to cite how four of the bottom six teams in attendance going into play on Sunday were in the American League. How with Tampa, Oakland, the White Sox and the Royals all in the bottom six going into play Sunday, the AL can't boast that the DH has boosted attendance. That's a fair point, but I'll counter that with those four teams were a combined 70.5 games behind their division leaders going into play Sunday. So their attendance woes are leant more toward them stinking out loud than the pitcher not batting. 

But, I'll entertain Mr. Brown in his fundamental question. I'll give him the "one good reason" he was looking for. And the answer is simple: Major League Baseball-wide uniformity. A standardized set of rules throughout the whole league.  What other professional sport has a fractured rule much like the DH? I'll save you the time -- none. It doesn't make sense, it has never made sense since interleague play and with offense being down it makes less sense even now. On top of that, save for the atypical times you see Kingham get a hit or a pitcher do something productive with the bat, many NL at-bats with a pitcher at the plate are flat out laughers. The guys are overmatched and don't want to be there. 

And get this: The American League isn​'t doing away with it; they aren't going to cut a job in the sport. Try getting the Players' Association to go along with that. 

So I'm sure the "Ban the DH" chorus and refrain will continue. I'm positive Greg Brown --- God love him --- will continue to be the conductor of such a symphony. It's a nice, gimmicky distraction from the way the Pirates are actually playing baseball right now. It's also this: something that never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever has a chance of happening no matter how many times you wish it or say it. 

Man, now that I think of it, I can't wait for the designated hitter to come to the National League. That will truly be a great day (sorry Brownie).