Steve Eighinger

The DH, the return of Ziva and why has Southside Johnny never reached superstardom?

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Oct. 1, 2019 12:01 am

Some random thoughts as we turn the page on another month ...

Since Major League Baseball's October-long postseason opens this week, I figured this is the perfect time to get something off my chest.

First of all, I fully realize some National League diehards will consider this close to blasphemy, but enough is enough. It's time to accept the designated hitter in the NL.

And don't even start with those tired arguments about "more strategy" that include such game changers as the "double switch." The DH has been in use in the American League since 1973, and for the exception of NL minor league teams, the rest of the world also employs the rule.

Personally, I would much rather see a DH like J.D. Martinez, David Ortiz or Frank Thomas swing a bat four times a game than some .095-hitting pitcher who might, on a good day, bloop a single to right field.

But I don't think my opinion -- or those of the staunchest National League fans -- will matter much longer. Baseball's current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expires after the 2021 season, and both MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and the Major League Baseball Players Association are proponents of adding a universal DH for the 2022 season.

That sounds like there is a pretty good chance the last time any pitcher will be hitting -- and the term is used loosely -- will be in the final National League game of the 2021 season.

This is a great time of the year, for reasons other than the MLB playoffs and college football. The new television season is underway, and for me the highlight to date -- bar none -- was the return of Chilean-born actress Cote de Pablo as super agent Ziva David on the long-running CBS hit "NCIS."

Granted, de Pablo, 39, is only scheduled for four appearances this season, but maybe those will lay the foundation for a full-time return a year from now. She originally left "NCIS" in 2013.

Following her second appearance of the current season this week, de Pablo will back in December and January. After that? We can only hope.

For most of my adult music-loving life I've been a fan of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, plus Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. Ironically, both Bruce and Southside Johnny are now 70 years old, both are from New Jersey and, as fate would have it, are longtime friends.

While Springsteen evolved into the megastar he remains, Southside Johnny has always seemed to live on the periphery of superstardom. I could never figure that out. Their styles, and even their voices, are quite similar, and both have that east-coast "edge" about them.

While being perplexed about Springsteen and Southside Johnny, I found myself thinking back to the 1983 "Eddie and the Cruisers" movie, which I feel is the finest rock-themed film ever produced. Ironically, the music consultant for the movie was none other than Southside Johnny.

The movie was based on a novel by P. F. Kluge and built around -- you guessed it -- a New Jersey-based band.