|Lindsay: one too many "designated hits"....|
The DH is a blight upon the original conception of the game, but it's been in play for forty years and there are too many forces in place supporting it for it to disappear. However, that doesn't mean that other solutions aren't available to counteract this suddenly pressing criticism that seems to fuel this hyper-urgent surge of "here's my big dick of a DH rule and you, ignorant slut, are going to have it crammed down your throat and you vill like it!!" meta-Nazification (and fear not, we won't be "illustrating" that last image, primarily because Lindsay Lohan blew us off for the little variation of the Carls Jr. commercial she was going to shoot for us).
Anyway, there is middle ground in all this muddle. The powers that wannabe who clamor for fewer at-bats from pitchers can be held off with pitchforks via a couple of simple changes in the substitution rules that will apply to the NL only. (The AL can keep the stinkin' DH, but it will be able to use these new substitution rules when they play interleague games in NL ballparks.)
Ready? Here goes:
A starting pitcher can be batted for on one occasion without forcing his removal from the game. One, and only one time, at the manager's discretion.
That hitter will be allowed to be used a second time in the game as a pinch-hitter, but he can't bat for the same pitcher twice.
Got it? The use of pinch-hitters will be made more tactical than before, because managers will have to decide how to get their best hitter who's not in the starting lineup up to the plate as many times as possible, and how to get that hitter up in spots where it can do his team the most good.
There would need to be some fine print to keep the Joe Maddons of the world from trying to bend the rules. A situation where a pinch-hitter is announced but batted for as a result of a pitching change that addresses the platoon advantage will still apply as if the first announced pinch-hitter actually batted.
So if you sandbagged by trying to put a somewhat weaker hitter up in the first place, anticipating a pitching change where you could then bat a stronger hitter against the new relief pitcher, you wouldn't be able to keep the second pinch-hitter in the game. Sorry, Joe: we're not going to let you be any slicker than you already are.
THERE you go--a substitution rule that adds some intriguing wrinkles to the game without forcing the NL to adopt the DH, that promotes strategy/tactics and that will give AL managers some additional leeway in deploying their bench hitters in the absence of the DH during interleague games in NL ballparks.
Best of all, it preserves some aspect of baseball tradition, which deserves to be honored, instead of discarded, trampled, folded, spindled, etc.
We suggest that the NL adopt this rule as an "experiment," just the way the DH was adopted in 1973. Let's test it out, and see how we like it.