MLB changes the name of the 'Disabled List' at the request of disability advocates

We’ve seen quite a few rule changes discussed this week for Major League Baseball — from the universal DH to a three-batter minimum for relief pitchers. They might happen, they might not. Such is the process of baseball negotiating rule changes every year.

One thing *is* changing this year, however — and it might surprise you.

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Major League Baseball confirmed to ESPN on Thursday that it’s changing the name of the “Disabled List” to the “Injury List.” The genesis of the rule? Disability advocates asked Major League Baseball to change the name because so people wouldn’t confuse “disabilities” and “injuries” and further the thinking that a disability means someone can’t play a sport. From ESPN’s Jeff Passan:

Deputy commissioner Dan Halem said the change was made at the suggestion of advocacy groups for the disabled, including the Link 20 Network. Jeff Pfeifer, MLB’s senior director of league economics and operations, notified clubs of the name change in a memo written in December.

“In recent years, the commissioner has received several inquiries regarding the name of the ‘Disabled List,'” Pfeifer wrote. “The principal concern is that using the term ‘disabled’ for players who are injured supports the misconception that people with disabilities are injured and therefore are not able to participate or compete in sports. As a result, Major League Baseball has agreed to change the name ‘Disabled List’ to be the ‘Injured List’ at both the major and minor league levels. All standards and requirements for placement, reinstatement, etc., shall remain unchanged. This change, which is only a rebranding of the name itself, is effective immediately.”

MLB is drawing a line between an injury and a disability with its decision to change the name of the
MLB is drawing a line between an injury and a disability with its decision to change the name of the “disabled list.” (Getty Images)

The reasoning makes a lot of sense, especially when you consider that the other major sports don’t call their injury lists “disabled lists.” It’s the “injured reserve list” in NFL and NHL, the “inactive list” in the NBA. MLB’s “disabled list” got its name in 1915, so the jargon was a bit dated.

Still, the news was met with, as you can imagine, differing opinions. Some people thought it was a good step toward inclusion and an example of a progressive society. Others thought it was another case of political correctness run amok and people being too easily offended.

Seems like a fitting snapshot of what it’s like to live in America in 2019.

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Mike Oz is a writer at Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter!

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