The World Series has been fantastic to this point. Explosive offenses have kept the game exciting and warm-weather cities will keep it moving through seven games without any issues. However, MLB generally has two problems with the Fall Classic, which are how late in the year it’s played and the designated hitter.
I know, the MLB is ripe with tradition with how the stars come out in October, but the reality of it is, it’s just too cold in some parts of the country to still be playing baseball in October and early November.
Even with global warming, we risk snow outs in the World Series. Do you realize that if the Minnesota Twins had made it to the World Series, there would have be snow on their field Friday afternoon? Baseball isn’t meant for snow. That’s why every team migrates to either Arizona or Florida for Spring Training.
While the logistics of dropping regular season games and pushing the postseason to an earlier date are much easier said than done, it’s something worth looking into. If the MLB season was a month shorter and ended in August, playoff races would be going on before the NFL season started and all eyes would be on baseball. This would put the World Series around the end of September, when most of the country still has decent weather.
The use of the DH in only the American League has always baffled me. Shouldn’t rules be the same across the entire league? Yes, there are ground rules for each ballpark. Tropicana Field has those bizarre catwalk ground rules and there are others across the league, but the general rules and gameplay should be consistent.
The option to use a DH should be the same whether in an AL or NL park, because the NL teams have an offensive advantage in both cases. This is not to say they always capitalize on said advantage. Exhibit A: the Houston Astros lead the World Series two games to one.
NL pitchers, mostly starters, are getting at-bats on a consistent basis of every five days, while AL pitchers are hitting on the rare occasion that they visit an NL ballpark. Entering the postseason, the LA Dodgers pitching staff had 282 at-bats, compared to 28 for Astros pitchers. That’s 10 times the number of at-bats. In addition to the lopsided hitting in the ninth spot (traditionally), the NL team is given an advantage in the AL park with an additional bat in the lineup that it wouldn’t have had previously.
By making the DH a blanket option for both leagues, it levels the playing field. Of course, you could get rid of it, but that essentially ends the careers of guys like David Ortiz and Edgar Martinez long before it should.
I understand the universal implementation of the DH is much easier than shortening the season and pushing back the World Series, but if both happened, the Fall Classic would be a better watch.
Photo by Brigham Berthold