Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Pop quiz: What to do with the DH?Posted by Greg Simons
After a three-game appetizer in mid-May, baseball is in the midst of feeding its fans a steady two-and-a-half-week diet of interleague games. Some fans enjoy the taste, while others would rather swallow ground glass.
To each his own, right? Well, no, where would the fun be in that?
Aside from abrogating the purity of the single-league schedules, interleague play also introduces the conundrum of the designated hitter.
How can American League teams be expected to compete with one of their vital bats on the bench? How can National League teams match up against their Junior Circuit brethren when they don't have a thumper to insert into the lineup opposite the AL's full-time hitter?
Usually, this wrinkle is played out according the host team's rules. Well, actually, it always is, but occasionally it doesn't seem that way.
In Seattle last weekend, the Mariners were the "road" team in their series against the Marlins. A U2 concert in Miami—at whatever they're calling that stadium these days—caused this three-game tilt to be move to the opposite corner of the country. And because Florida was the "home" team, they batted last, and the DH wasn't used.
The flip side took place last year with the Blue Jays having to vacate Toronto during the G20 summit, leading to Citizen's Bank Park in Philadelphia playing host to the "visiting" Phillies, and putting the DH in play in an NL park.
Various people have proposed implementing this system in every interleague game, thereby allowing fans in one league witness the game being played according to the other league's rules. There certainly is merit to this approach, though some baseball purists—however that phrase is defined nowadays—would be violently opposed.
The additional wrinkle in the long-running DH debate is the recent talk of going to two 15-team leagues with interleague games a continuous feature throughout the season. Debate has been fueled about whether the designated hitter would continue to be used only in AL parks, implemented throughout baseball or banished completely.
While that last option is almost certainly a non-starter in any negotiations the owners have with the players' association, that doesn't mean we fans can voice our opinion of the matter, which brings us to this week's Pop Quiz question:
Greg Simons finally, sadly has conceded that he won't have an MLB playing career. However, in his dreams, he's still the second coming of Ozzie Smith. Please don't wake him up, though you can e-mail him at gregbsimons AT yahoo DOT com.