"Look," says Jim Campbell, the Detroit general manager, who was against adopting the DPH in only one league, "we voted to accept this rule with the understanding that the designated hitter will not be used on defense. Are we now going to have to go out and explain a different kind of rule to the public? One of the finest things about baseball is that everyone knows our rules. The worst thing we can do if we want to get this one off is to further confuse the fans. If a team is worried about the second-string catcher, then it can carry a third-string catcher."
Obviously, the American League did not spend enough time or legwork researching the DPH rule before it loosed it on the public. When it does come forward with its refined rule it had better be a lucid one.
There may be tremors of doubt on the part of the National League, but its present firm position against the DPH seems likely to stand. The Little League, Babe Ruth League and American Legion have so far also said nay. But several top colleges have adopted the DPH for the 1973 season. Eddie Stanky, formerly manager of the Cardinals and White Sox and now baseball coach at the University of South Alabama, likes the innovation. "We use it in about 80% of our games," Eddie says. "The fans love it. The pitcher who can hit is becoming extinct."
In the next few weeks—the Lord and Marvin Miller willing—1,000 baseball players will be going to spring training, 500 in one direction and 500 in another. The best "talk" game in the land has its liveliest morsel for debate in many a year. The game most susceptible to subtle strategic manipulation has a toothsome and obscure new gambit to explore and exploit. The prosecution is already delivering its loud summation to the jury. But the defense will soon get its turn at bat.