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MLB Willing to Keep the Universal DH as Long as Players Agree to Expanded Playoffs

Players want to keep the DH, but it comes with a condition.



The 2020 season came with plenty of changes in MLB. The universal designated hitter was one of the more favorable rule changes among players, despite experiencing some early backlash. Despite the rough start, the Player’s Association is hopeful that the DH rule will stick moving forward. 

Unfortunately, it’s not going to be that simple according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. Owners around the league want the Player’s Association to accept the expanded playoffs for 2021 in exchange for keeping the universal DH. It would make sense from the owners’ side, who are all looking to make up for the loss of revenue in 2020. 

Passan also notes that most owners likely want the universal DH to stick around, despite using it as a bargaining chip. It wouldn’t make a lot of sense for MLB pitchers to go back to hitting after taking an entire year away from it. 

The problem is that the expanded playoffs weren’t really popular among any teams or players aside from the fringe teams that barely made it in this year. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred even said that while he would like to see expanded playoffs stick around, he knows it cannot stay at 16 teams getting into the postseason. Manfred has floated the idea of 12-14 teams and not the usual 10 teams. 

Whatever MLB and Players’ Association decide on, the rules are bound to change once again in 2021. And even those rules may not be permanent, as the current Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire after the 2021 season. Hold on tight baseball fans, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. 

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MLB: Rob Manfred Open to Keeping the World Series at Neutral Locations Moving Forward

Written by Brook Smith

Brook is the Senior Editor of Dodgers Nation, with several years of experience in sports journalism. He is an avid Dodgers and Lakers fan, and can be spotted fairly often at Dodger Stadium and Staples Center.

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  1. After being against it I am now for the universal DH. I would not mind expanding the playoffs as long as the division winners get a bye.

  2. This doesn’t sound insurmountable. The DH is here to stay because 2020 showed the days of pitchers whiffing 90 percent of the time are gone. And – while a 16 team playoff penalized the best teams and allowed a couple of serious under performers get in – 12 or 14 teams with byes for the division winners, won’t break the sport and will actually mean more money for teams and players.

  3. I’m in favor of reversing every change Manfred has made, and firing him, and quite frankly pretending that he never existed. In other words, getting back to real life and real baseball. If you want to expand the postseason, expand the old wild card single game to a best of three series so it actually follows the format of the entire regular season and the rest of the postseason. That’s it. That’s the only change needed. No dancing clowns or dog and pony shows. Just baseball. If you want to change everything start a new league. You could even try to call it MLB (Manfred League Baseball), but there could be some trademark problems. You could even allow all kinds of cheating to spice it up. It could be a blend of baseball and professional wrestling. See how it works.

    • I’m with you.Manfred is a disaster and deserved every boo he got. Too many playoff games against losing teams. It’s not right!

      As for other matters I am still against the DH as I am not a fan of one-dimensional players. If a pitcher can’t help his team in at least a minimal way offensively, that’s on the team, coaches, and ultimately the player and the team should suffer.

      Remember most pitchers when they started out were usually multi-talented players and frequently the best players on their teams. Having pitchers bat may not be generally exciting, but when they do something unexpected it shows how baseball can still surprise and delight you. Specialization like the dh is boring and gives too many jobs to players with tin gloves. It also ruins a certain classic quality to the way the lineup is constructed.

    • I’m with you 106W. Manfred will lead us no where. No DH!!! A good hitting pitcher is a luxury. It diminishes there value. Baseball doesn’t need a gimmick.

      • To all above: You’ve said it all. Let’ s not water down the great game of real, pure ,honest to goodness major league baseball. No DH and no extra postseason featuring losing record teams. It’s apparent a change is needed at the top of the executive branch of MLB.

  4. The designated hitter is NOT good for the game. With the designated hitter, a lot of strategic decisions go by the wayside. The designated hitter dumbs down the game of baseball. It takes away the strategy and the need for intelligence about the game. Their is constant strategic decisions relating to the nine spot in the order as a necessity. That’s how the game of baseball is played; if you play in the field, you swing the bat, no glove no bat, period. Let’s take the DH to its logical conclusion, and I have heard this argument made, that baseball should be split like football with an offense and defense. The people that argue for DH for pitchers use the same reason that logically leads to a split-squad. Most shortstops cannot hit either, so DH for them. The reason pitchers cannot hit is also because the DH is used as early as high school. If we get rid of this in both leagues then pitchers will be able to hit better than they do. Just like if bunting was practice more then teams could beat the shift.

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