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  1. I’m not, in general, in favor of designated anything. At least a DH is a positional ,not an individual, replacement. All speed no bat guys can continue as pinch runners just as they are today.

    I’d sooner be in favor of some sort of conditional re-entry into a game for players that were taken out earlier. Simple substitution happens in a million other sports, and there’s nothing gimmicky about it.

    Comment by Ben — February 24, 2012 @ 2:18 pm

  2. Little League has a rule like this where you can do it once per inning with a player on the bench.

    Comment by Everett — February 24, 2012 @ 2:28 pm

  3. First of all, this already sort of exists. If a player is injured on a settled play like a home run or ground rule double and can not complete the task of running then he may be substituted for. Near as I can tell, it last happened in 9/4/2005 when Gabe Kapler ruptured an achilles rounding second on a homer by Tony Graffanino that Kapler was running hard on since he thought it was going to stay in the park. Graffanino stopped at second and waited for Kapler to be carted off so he didn’t pass him, then Alejandro Machado completed the running for Kapler and Graffanino scored behind him. It is a little different since Kapler couldn’t have returned, even if able.

    Second, didn’t Babe Ruth have a designated runner at the end of his career or is that an urban legend?

    Comment by MikeS — February 24, 2012 @ 2:35 pm

  4. Actually, retrosheet has a good page of players that were lifted for “courtesy runners” and returned to the game later.

    Comment by MikeS — February 24, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

  5. One drawback of a DR is that he wouldn’t be available for defense. Defense correlates better with baserunning ability than hitting ability. So it makes more sense to turn this around: Allow a second DH for a position player and allow the position player to run the bases when his DH reaches base.

    Comment by Newsense — February 24, 2012 @ 2:46 pm

  6. You wouldn’t necessarily even want the designated runner to sub for a hulking slugger. Imagine a team pulling the Veeck routine with a midget hitter who could get on base at close to a 1.000 clip and then replace him with a world-class sprinter.

    Comment by dustygator — February 24, 2012 @ 2:56 pm

  7. If your team is talented and healthy enough that you can blow a 25th roster spot on employing an Olympic sprinter, then you probably don’t need the marginal upgrade from a designated runner in the first place.

    Doubly so if your team is solid enough that it’s an AL team and you’re essentially blowing two roster spots to cobble together one good player (one spot for a full time DH who hits well but runs like ass, and one full time DR who can’t hit or field but runs crazy fast).

    Or put another way, the marginal benefit of a DR would likely always be outweighed by the contributions of your utility infielder, 3rd catcher or extra bullpen arm. (Measure said contributions by WAR or whatever your fave methods are.)

    Comment by Snowblind — February 24, 2012 @ 3:04 pm

  8. Its an excellent rule, the courtesy runner. I remember managing to steal 40+ bases without being caught in a 10 game season since I was basically just a courtesy runner – kids can’t throw at that age, and it gives little fast kids with no hand-eye coordination a way to play.

    Comment by AK7007 — February 24, 2012 @ 3:08 pm

  9. What if your DR was your utility infielder, and you could enter him into the game to field later in exchange for losing the runner?

    Comment by AK7007 — February 24, 2012 @ 3:11 pm

  10. Would like to see this implemented for catchers (when catcher is on base), and there are two outs. Let any available bench player/pitcher sub as runner. The courtesy runner does NOT loose eligibilty for the remainder of the game.

    I’d want to see a time limit. Call a time out, and you have 10-20 seconds to get the exchange done.

    Then we’re not waiting around to start the next inning while the catcher is busy donning his equipment.

    Comment by Dave S — February 24, 2012 @ 3:53 pm

  11. Speed on the basepaths slows down the game, and only encourages more and more specialization in a game which was originally meant for athletic generalists. I’m sure some managers would waste a spot on a rabbit (as this notion was once called) but most wouldn’t bother in all probability. Only in late innings would it make any sense to use him, and they can do that already as Boston did in their famous comeback against the Yanks a few years ago.

    Overall, I am in favor of fewer rules which allow greater specialization of players, and letting all people who play baseball have to play all of baseball, with the only specialization coming from defensive value. Pretty much national league baseball, actually. If I were to suggest rule changes, it might be a limit on the number of pitching changes per inning (the LaRussa rule) to 1, other than for injury. That would end LOOGYs forever, and allow managers to carry fewer pitchers and more hitters on the bench.

    Comment by Dan in Philly — February 24, 2012 @ 4:09 pm

  12. Baseball is a great game. Its simple and yet generates great delight in both playing and watching.

    At its highest level, in this fan’s opinion, it should just be nine guys versus nine guys (substitute as you feel necessary) and the athletes that in the game play all aspects of the game.

    Obviously I am not a DH fan and would dislike a DR. Of course I would also like to see the NFL reduce team sizes and limit substitutions. When they went to designated “pass rushing” defensive tackles they lost me.

    Comment by Bill Mills — February 24, 2012 @ 4:21 pm

  13. I think the DH is incredibly important because major league positional players can’t hit if they don’t get regular playing time, it is impossible to expect pitchers to be able to. Hitting is a game of repetition and they just don’t get enough, this in turn makes it very unsafe for them to be hitting. At least a dozen pitchers get hurt every year hitting or running the bases and it is a huge disadvantages to the NL.

    I don’t buy any of that for designated runners though, I don’t like it.

    Comment by Ender — February 24, 2012 @ 4:31 pm

  14. We have this rule in my adult baseball league.

    Comment by Nate — February 24, 2012 @ 4:35 pm

  15. Can I suggest lifting the ban on PED’s for the next RCF?

    Comment by Uncle Remus — February 24, 2012 @ 5:08 pm

  16. For the pace of play issue, I’d rather that MLB allow the team’s other catcher (even if he’s already been used earlier in the game) to catch the first batter’s plate appearance of the next half inning, IF the in-the-game catcher was either batting or baserunning when the last out or was made. That’s more preserving of the spirit of the game than allowing a courtesy runner for the lumbering catcher. Having the other guy in as catcher for only the leadoff batter a few times per week shouldn’t make much of a difference in terms of game outcomes; you can’t steal first base.

    Comment by reillocity — February 24, 2012 @ 5:19 pm

  17. Baseball is changing too much already. I object to interleague play. I object to divisions. I object to the recent change to the legal size of bats. I object to the restriction of bats to those produced by licensed manufacturers.

    Baseball works. There’s no reason to change the rules.

    Comment by Llewdor — February 24, 2012 @ 7:04 pm

  18. I had an idea for a rule change once. When a batter is HBP’d, let him throw a live ball into play from the batter’s box, with flyout/forceout rules still in effect.

    Comment by Keystone Heavy — February 24, 2012 @ 7:15 pm

  19. That would mean you wouldn’t pitch inside to Rick Ankiel- but you’d be fine throwing it at Johnny Damon and his wet noodle- Johnny Damon would break the single season HBP record.

    Comment by Barry Zito — February 24, 2012 @ 8:16 pm

  20. Fat guys have a place in baseball for a reason.

    Comment by Sammy — February 24, 2012 @ 8:28 pm

  21. Casual sb games with some non-runners batting usually had the person have to have a hand in contact with the backstop until the ball was hit, but that wouldn’t work on a baseball field.

    Comment by gdc — February 24, 2012 @ 8:48 pm

  22. Specialization makes sports less enjoyable. It’s easy to say you’d rather see Michael Bourne on the basepaths than Adam Dunn. But what makes both players interesting is that their greatest strengths have corresponding weaknesses.

    If baseball ever devolved into a game where each player was asked to to only the one thing he did best – hit, run, field, pitch, whatever — it would become merely mechanical. And dull.

    Comment by Candlestick Parker — February 24, 2012 @ 9:26 pm

  23. Sorry, but why do you object to interleague play?

    I admit I dislike the super-super-specialization, already seen in NFL, and ideas like DH (especially when restricted to one league only!!) is baffling, but honestly, I think the way MLB is structured is one of the best in pro-sports, and it is only going to get better with more interleague play + another wild card spot.

    Genuinely asking for drawbacks, most of my friends + colleagues are excited to see more and more exotic matchups, and the only real drawback is perhaps dilution of some rivalries.

    Comment by NJ — February 24, 2012 @ 11:29 pm

  24. This. The beauty of baseball is that it demands so many different things from its participants. It’s all the more special when you find guys who are good at everything, or even just those who contribute particularly well in one facet that their position isn’t normally good at.

    Comment by Todd — February 25, 2012 @ 6:06 am

  25. The short-lived Canadian Baseball League actually had this rule.

    Comment by Leosteward — February 25, 2012 @ 9:09 am

  26. The only rule change I would make would be to have the DH in both leagues, but only for the starting pitcher. Once the starter comes out, the DH comes out.

    Keeps the big fat slow sluggers in the game longer, keeps the NL game playing in the game.

    Comment by Jeff — February 25, 2012 @ 10:37 am

  27. Why don’t we just have one hitting team and one running and fielding team? I say no, DR changes the game too much. I understand the game needs to evolve but this seams like too much. At least the DH isn’t player specific

    Comment by adohaj — February 25, 2012 @ 11:38 am

  28. Specialization rules like the DH are inherently anti-democratic and innately opposed to the spirit of the game.

    Comment by Monroe — February 25, 2012 @ 5:26 pm

  29. Wouldn’t work. Pitchers would fake injuries to get around the rule.

    Comment by Chad — February 26, 2012 @ 2:11 pm

  30. The only major rule change I can support is an elimination of the DH position. It’s a vestigial position. Baseball doesn’t need it anymore and without it, games are more interesting. A manager actually has to manage. American League, get rid of the DH and play some real baseball. It’s not called the junior league for nothing.

    P.S. I know why it’s really called the junior league, chill out.

    Comment by SecondHandStore — February 26, 2012 @ 6:15 pm

  31. Seems dull, but if I recall wasn’t Babe Ruth allowed a designated runner in the final season or so of his career.

    Comment by kick me in the GO NATS — February 27, 2012 @ 12:18 am

  32. Doesn’t solve any problems. Why make the change

    Comment by Slartibartfast — February 27, 2012 @ 2:47 am

  33. I was just looking through an old issue of The Sporting News and found a box score that indicated that the experiment was tried at least once in spring training. On April 5, 1975, in their last game of spring training, the defending World Series champion Oakland Athletics used Don Hopkins and Herb Washington as designated runners for Reggie Jackson. Reggie went 2 for 2 with a home run, 1 run, 3 RBIs. Hopkins is listed under him as a “dr” and scoring a run, and H. Washington is listed under Hopkins as a dr. Oakland lost 11-6 to the Cleveland Indians in 11 innings when Roger Nelson went in to pitch the 11th inning in what turned out to be his last game in an Oakland uniform. He gave up 3 hits, 2 walks, and 7 runs–only 1 earned , because of 3 errors, one of them by Nelson. The A’s came back with 2 in the bottom of the inning on a homer by Billy Williams. I haven’t seen any other box scores with a “dr” listed, and I don’t think these were typos.

    Comment by Jack Morrow — April 4, 2015 @ 8:27 pm

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