Pop quiz: What to do with the DH?

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:

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What should be done with the DH?

Get rid of it: DH should only be short for double header.
Keep it the way it is: If it ain’t broke, don’t ask Bud Selig to “fix” it.
Play by the other league’s rules: Let fans see how the other half lives.
Full-time DH for everyone!: Pitchers can’t hit, so please don’t make ‘em try.


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  1. Tom said...

    I saw an interesting suggestion on the Joy of Sox blog the other day: Make the DH optional for each team. The AL can keep their sluggers if they want to, and the NL can add one to their lineup. Everybody wins.

  2. Brad Johnson said...

    Making the DH optional is functionally the same as making it universal. Technically the DH is optional in the American League, a pitcher can bat for himself if the manager chooses. However, it would be dumb to bat a pitcher if you have an alternative.

    I like giving the choice to the home manager because it introduces more game theory to management. It also would have an interesting effect on what type of player is rostered as a DH.

  3. Duane Wallin said...

    I can’t for the life of me figure out why anyone would want to watch a pitcher flail (sp) for an almost sure out.  The argument about managerial strategy is wasted on me.  As for the agrument about only a handful of DH batters out there, someone isn’t watching.  What’s not to like about a fine ball player finishing up his stint as a DH? Fans get to see some favorites still produce.  Of course if you are a NL guy you wouldn’t watch many of them.  I have almost thrown up watching the pitcher outs the past couple of series. 

    As for “That’s the way baseball was always played” there are a lot of today’s rules that weren’t used when base ball (yes, two words) was played.

    Obviously, I voted to keep the DH.

  4. Todd Bellm said...

    My vote is to get rid of the DH.  To appease the player’s union, increase the active roster to 26 players.

  5. Duane said...

    When I get on my soap box I usually forget all that I have to say.  As for allowing the manager to decide, can you imagine what a roster would have to look like?  Now that would be a managerial headache!  Let’s see, I don’t have a DH but the other manager wants to use it for game one.  Should I option player A or B out today and bring him back tomorrow or after the series?  Doesn’t make sense to me.

  6. Brad Johnson said...

    I picked a) but I’d really pick “other: allow home manager to choose prior to the game”

  7. Jeff said...

    Get rid of it. How many great DH’s are there? Maybe 3-4. Most of them are washed up no fielding players. Plus it kills all the strategy involved in managing.

    If you are going to keep, at least make it so that when the pitcher gets removed, the DH has to be replaced as well. That way you get to keep some sort of strategy with switching positions and stuff.

  8. Todd said...

    I voted for get rid of it, but the important thing is to standardize it. Have it or don’t, just make it the same for both leagues.

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