Rest easy, baseball traditionalists. Commissioner Rob Manfred says he doesn't believe the designated hitter will be coming to the National League any time soon.
At the owners meetings, Manfred indicated that the idea of having the DH on the NL was gaining momentum. Just a few days later, he told ESPN's Jerry Crasnick he expects to leagues to remain status quo.
"The most likely result on the designated hitter for the foreseeable future is the status quo," Manfred said in an interview with ESPN.com in conjunction with his one-year anniversary as commissioner. "I think the vast majority of clubs in the National League want to stay where they are."
Manfred also made similar comments to our own Jeff Passan. When asked about how people responded to his initial thoughts on the DH in the NL, Manfred said he was surprised by the feedback.
I was very surprised, the stories that were written. All I did was respond to a question about advantages and disadvantages and respond to a comment [Cardinals GM John Mozeliak] had made. My summation on that was: I don’t even know if it’s going to be a topic in bargaining. We seem to forget about this piece.
As Manfred explains above, he was merely hashing out the pros and cons of having a DH in both leagues. It seems as though he never meant for people to interpret his comments as "the DH is coming to the NL soon." On top of that, he told Passan that he wasn't sure whether bringing the DH to the NL would be a topic in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. That would make it difficult for the NL to adopt the DH by 2017, which was an early speculation based on the quotes given at the owners meetings.
That doesn't mean changes won't come eventually. When Manfred spoke at the owners meetings, he pointed out that things have changed since the inception of the DH. It would have been impossible to convince the owners to universally adopt the position in 1973, but things are different today. The owners are more open-minded to different ideas now.
That seems to be the case. This whole controversy started after St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak supported the idea of the DH coming to the NL. While Mozeliak's statements received a lot of attention, it appears he's in the minority among those in power in the NL for now. The owners may be more accepting of the idea, but not everyone agrees with Mozeliak just yet.
It's not the first time Manfred's comments have been ripped apart and analyzed more than he had intended. The baseball world fell into a tizzy when Manfred suggested defensive shifts could be eliminated from the game shortly after he named commissioner. Manfred talked a bit more about that experience during his interview with Passan.
This time around, Manfred appears to have gotten out in front of the issue before it became too large. The DH is not coming to the NL, at least, not in the next year or two. Traditionalists and those who love to see pitchers hit can put away their pitchforks.
And for those fighting for change, at least you get to see Bartolo Colon take a few cuts in the batter's box a while longer.
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