Time to play baseball by same rules

Different can be good. But uniformity can be a good thing, too. Few, if any sports, allow as many variations as baseball.

Yes, bases are 90 feet apart, the pitching rubber is 60 feet 6 inches from home plate, each team gets three outs per inning, each batter gets three strikes, and it takes four balls out of the strike zone to earn a walk, etc., but there also are many differences.

The dimensions of the ballpark vary from stadium to stadium. A team can have a high 30-foot wall, like the Green Monster in Fenway Park, or have a symmetrical outfield from the left field foul line to the right field foul line.

And speaking of foul, the foul pole really should be called a fair pole, because when a batted ball strikes the pole it?s called a home run and not a foul ball.

A team can let the grass grow tall to slow down ground balls, or cut it short to make ground balls scoot through faster.

A team that likes to bunt can tailor the infield so a bunted ball is more likely to stay fair.

The strike zone is supposed to be the same, but not all umpires see the strike zone the same way. The strike zone will always vary, because umps are human.

At least in baseball, everyone is required to use the same ball.

But the greatest difference in Major League Baseball is the designated hitter, which is used in the American League but not the National League. I don?t know of any other major sport with different rules within its sport.

On Jan. 11, 1973, owners of America?s 24 MLB teams voted to allow teams in the American League to use a designated pinch-hitter who could bat for the pitcher while allowing the pitcher to stay in the game.

The idea of adding a 10th man to bat for the pitcher had been suggested as early as 1906 by revered player and manager Connie Mack. In 1928, John Heydler, then-president of the National League, revived the issue, but the rule was rejected by the AL management.

Fast forward to the early 1970s when Oakland A?s owner Charlie Finley of the AL became the designated hitter rule?s most outspoken advocate. He argued that a pinch-hitter to replace the pitcher?a player who usually batted poorly?would add the extra offensive punch that baseball needed to draw more fans.

Baseball purists decried the designated hitter, arguing that it took away from baseball?s integrity.

At first, the DH didn?t apply to games in the World Series, but from 1976-85, the designated hitter only applied to the World Series held in even-numbered years.

In 1986, the current rule took effect, based on the rules typically played by the home team. In other words, there?s no DH when games are played in a National League ballpark, but games in American League stadiums use the DH. Everyone has an opinion on the pros and cons, but unanimity is elusive.

Washington Nationals pitching ace Max Scherzer cringed when he saw the replay of the Adam Wain?wright injury that will likely sideline the Cardinals star pitcher for the season. Wainwright suffered an injury while trying to leave the batters? box after hitting a popup.

Scherzer said it?s probably time for both leagues to go to a DH system. ?If you look at it from the macro side, who?d people rather see hit?Big Papi or me?? Scherzer said. ?Who would people rather see, a real hitter hitting home runs or a pitcher swinging a wet newspaper??

However, Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner said pitchers in the NL are more accountable.

?I guarantee you,? Bum?garner said, ?some of the things you?re seeing in the American League wouldn?t happen if pitchers had to hit. They?d be a whole lot more polite.?

Pitcher Tim Hudson said: ?A lot of the injuries are freaky things,? adding that it was ?kind of silly? to argue for the DH to prevent injuries.

So if we have to agree to disagree, I agree with Scherzer when he said, ?Both leagues need to be on the same set of rules.?