Chicago Cubs: ‘That’s not how the game was meant to be played’
Strategy and “baseball the way baseball was meant to be played” is the drum that many NL fans beat when discussing limitations and problems with adding the designated hitter to the NL. What if that same strategy was kept, but in a slightly different way?
So you’re saying you love the mind games and strategy NL skippers have to handle on a daily basis. You love the question of whether or not to leave a pitcher in one hitter too many because his spot is coming up in the batting order. You love a manager making double switches and choosing which players to take out and who to put in. You love vacillating over whether Kyle Hendricks should bunt or swing away with a man on second and one out. What if I told you that you could have your cake (or Cracker Jack) and eat it too? Sort of, at least.
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Following Showalter’s idea of keeping a DH only while the starting pitcher is still in the game does eliminate some strategy early in the game; that is true. However, as a pitcher nears the end of his night, the manager would have the same decisions to make regarding when and how to take out the pitcher, making double switches, using pinch hitters and who to use in relief for how long.
It would basically be like playing an American League game for the first five innings most nights and then shifting gears to what we know as the NL style for the latter part of the game. By doing so, you’d give fans the same strategy they yearn for at the end of games, but you’d also be creating more offense and excitement early in the game by having guys who actually know what they’re doing stepping into the box.
Admittedly, I love National League baseball. But, I can concede and acknowledge that I am extremely biased because I grew up a Cubs fan, and the team has always played in the NL. I also spent the latter part of my childhood and adolescence in Connecticut, far from the Windy City. While there, I listened to WFAN (660) every night while in bed because it was rare that WGN (720) would come in clearly 900 miles away.
WFAN carried Mets games in the 1990s, and the Mets also play in the NL, therefore ensuring I grew up listening to and thinking about games in a National League mindset.
Allowing that same mindset and strategy many of us have always loved to continue, while also allowing for the fact that pitchers just aren’t very good hitters nowadays, sounds like a compromise many progressive and rational baseball fans would be willing to make.