Cubs: Kyle Hendricks scare changed my mind on the DH in the NL

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
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The Chicago Cubs starting rotation is pretty thin already.  So imagine the suspected Opening Day starter going down for the season because he tripped over first base during spring training.

I hate the designated hitter. My 11-year-old self hated it when the Junior Circuit instituted it in 1973.  For decades I mocked those who argued that both leagues should, for the sake of uniformity, adopt the DH.  I agreed that uniformity was important in baseball, so force the American League to drop the DH.

I believed with every fiber of my being that the DH took a large measure of in-game tactics and strategy out of the game. No more double switches or pitchers laying down sac bunts. Like all of baseball’s sanctity depended on those moves.

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Who didn’t love seeing Carlos Zambrano whack one out of the park or Kerry Wood crush a game-tying Game 7 home run in the 2003 NLCS?  The stuff of legend.

For us National League fans, few things were more amusing than watching AL pitchers try and bat during interleague games.  Comedy Central in every at-bat.

No, I hate the DH, at least I used to.  See, like all living organisms I’ve been reminded once again, even at my ripe old age of 59, that you evolve or die.  Or in the case of Kyle Hendricks last Thursday night, possibly suffer a season-ending injury over a meaningless Spring Training single.

Now, this time everything turned out well.  Hendricks got up laughing, safe at first.  David Ross’ heart dropped back into his chest.  Fans who saw it happen in real-time came down from ceilings.  All ACLs were intact; certain disaster was averted.

Hendricks said “competitiveness took over” and that he didn’t want to look like Trevor Cahill getting thrown out from right field.

Cubs would have been in trouble had Kyle Hendricks been injured

Great, Kyle, but for more than a few seconds every Cub fan who saw that happen thought back just a few years ago to this play in 2016 that cost another Kyle his season.  Groans went out all over Cub fandom that April night and I’m sure last Thursday night as well.

This brings us back to the discussion about the DH.  In 2020 with all of MLB’s screwy rules was the DH in the NL for the first time ever.  I was prepared to hate it.  Then, like the character in Green Eggs and Ham, I found I liked the DH.

Next. Cubs: Zach Davies looks like his 2020 performance was no fluke. dark

I didn’t miss pitchers looking like, well, me at the plate, the sac bunts, the double switches, or pitchers tripping over first base or colliding with infielders the way Prior did running the bases. Yes, I’ve evolved. It turns out I do like Green Eggs and Ham after all.  Maybe you would, too.

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