Chicago Cubs: Would the DH actually improve the Cubs’ lineup?
Fast forward 45 years and the National and American Leagues still play under different rules. While numerous changes have been made since 1973 to give fans in both leagues exposure to the DH (including changes in World Series formats, interleague play and All-Star Games), the rule is used almost unilaterally in every other level of the game.
The Minor Leagues use the designated hitter. As does the NCAA and high school baseball leagues across the nation. Basically, the only league that does not use the DH is the one that never has and has always been against the usage of such: the National League. And, as fate would have it, the Chicago Cubs just happen to be in said National League, so it’s an issue that fans often bring up and enjoy banter about because it might just be fun to have nine actual hitters in the lineup. Or, it might not.
So, let’s discuss Showalter’s posit: what if we implemented the DH across all of baseball, but we used it only until the starting pitcher is pulled from the game? Every game would start with a DH in the pitcher’s spot (if the manager prefers, of course – or you could use your pitcher as the DH – looking at you Shohei Ohtani), but when you took out your starting pitcher, you’d also lose your designated hitter.
Managers would then be forced into a double switch, pinch hitter or just letting the relief pitcher hit for himself. Sounds like the American League for five or six innings and then the National League for the rest of the game. It also seems like it would affect strategy in terms of when to take out your pitcher, who to bring in, which pinch hitters to use and basically gives you the best of both worlds for NL and AL fans alike.
The problem with the idea is, of course, that fans fall into one of three categories regarding the designated hitter and its use. They hate it and don’t think it should be adopted in the NL, they are open to the idea of some form or machination of the DH in both leagues, or they love the idea and absolutely believe that the NL should implement the rule in every game as soon as yesterday.
I’m not going to sway opinion or curry favor for my idea with those who fall into the first category. Your minds are made up. I hope you read on and consider this particular idea if that applies to you, but I understand if you stop reading now; you’re intransigent and I don’t blame you – the National League has been producing great baseball for 142 years.
If you fall into the other categories, however, I suggest you listen to this clip from MLB Network (also linked at the beginning of the article) and then continue reading.