The World Series kicks off tonight, and either Chicago or Cleveland will end a long drought of a baseball championship.
After the Orioles lost, I wanted the Cubs to win it all, just to end all that 1908 talk. But I hadn't given Cleveland much of a shot given all the injuries to the pitching staff. It's been amazing to see the Indians manuver their way through the playoffs and into the World Series. So now I'm a little torn in which city I'd rather see end their long title drought.
After the Indians clinched a spot in the World Series, one thought that's been rattling around in my head is why does the championship series get played under two different sets of rules depending on where the game is played?
The designated hitter was adopted by the American League in 1972, and staring in 1976 the leagues started using the DH in the World Series in even years. Then in 1986 they switched to playing by the rules based on the home team.
Of course after the infamous tie in the All Star game in 2002 home-field advantage for the World Series has been decided by the winner of the All Star game. But does it really matter?
American League teams build themselves around having a DH, often able to add an extra hitter that may not be as strong defensively. Yet, the Indians will lose the DH when they travel to Chicago for the middle three games. Does that seem fair?
Recently on MLB Network radio, Tigers' manager Brad Ausmus bemoaned the fact his team had to forego the DH in the season-ending series against the Braves in Atlanta. The Tigers, who entered the weekend in the wild card hunt, and had built their team around having the extra hitter didn't have that advantage in the final three games of the season.
When baseball realigned into three division in each league and the Astros moved to the American League, that left both leagues with 15 teams. That means there is always an interleague series being played, like the Tigers and Braves to end the regular season.
So why do the leagues continue to have seperate rules? It creates an unfair advantage for the American League teams when they lose the DH in a National League park.
Who really wants to see pitchers hit anyway? Outside of a few that have some power and hit the occasional home run, having pitchers hit is kind of pointless. This April 2015 article from Baseball America shows that in the 2014 season, pitchers recorded an out 86.2 percent of the time they batted that season, the highest ever in the DH era.
Even though I'm a child of the post-DH era, I understand the thought that the National League game is more interesting without the DH. Managers certainly have to give more thought to moves during a game. But it isn't right that the two leagues have different rules as it creates the dissadvantage when the DH can't be used.
Baseball isn't likely to tackle this issue quickly, even though they are currently negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement. So here's a suggestion of how baseball can decide whether to keep the DH or not: make the next 5 or 7 All Star games determine whether pitchers hit or not. A best-of format can put this to bed and put both leagues on equal footing in terms of how they build their teams.