Interleague Play: Why Not Switch DH To NL Parks?
Thirty-five years ago, the American League implemented the designated hitter. On April 6, 1973, Ron Blomberg of the New York Yankees became the first designated hitter in Major League Baseball history, facing Boston Red Sox right-handed pitcher Luis Tiant in his first plate appearance. "Boomer" Blomberg drew a walk.
Naturally, the result of the first season of the DH was that the American League posted a higher batting average than the National League, something which has remained a constant to this day.
At first, the DH rule was not applied to the World Series. In 1976, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn decided the rule would apply to all games, regardless of venue, but only in even-numbered years. This practice lasted until 1985. The next year, the rule was adapted to its current format of only applying in games played in the American League team's stadium.
Similarly, there was initially no DH in the All-Star Game. Beginning in 1989, the rule was applied only to games played in American League stadiums. When this occurs, fans are allowed to select an AL player to start at that position, while the NL's manager decides that league's starting DH.
When regular season Interleague Play was introduced in 1997, the rule was, and continues to be, applied in the same fashion.
This brings me to my point: Why NOT use the DH in National League parks?
Some people point to preserving the purity of the game by having pitchers step to the plate. Others may argue that it's a totally different style of exciting baseball. Still others say its interesting to watch the managerial maneuvers late in games.
These are valid arguments. All of which I support. But wouldn't it be nice to see an extra "hitter" in the Braves, Mets, or Cubs lineups? Maybe the Cubs' World Series-less streak wouldn't be at 99 years? I know that may be stretching it too far for just an extra hitter, but what if?
The best thing for baseball is to keep the current rules. With one minor change.
Switch the Interleague rules. Enforce the DH rule in National League ballparks and let the pitcher hit in American League ballparks.
This type of switch would allow the fans to watch something different. If you're like myself (I don't really travel outside of Minnesota), you're restricted to watching only your hometown team live. Have you seen the Twins DH's lately?
Seriously, sometimes they might be better off with one of their pitchers hitting.
Likewise, fans in National League cities would get to see the American League rules applied. It's more fun to watch a DH hit the long ball than to watch the pitcher unsuccessfully lay down a bunt, or swing wildly at a 95-mph fastball for a strikeout.
And, considering all the changes that have been made regarding the DH over the years, it's not like a switch would be breaking anything sacred.
It's more exciting for both leagues.
The fans get to see something they're not used to.
Git 'er done!
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