With the Houston Astros moving to the American League for the 2013 season, MLB is now split into two 15-team divisions. This will change how interleague play is going to be handled from now on. Instead of interleague play being during two time periods during the season, it will now be every day. This is going to lead to something potentially controversial.
You will have teams in the AL playing without a DH during the final days of the season such as the Tigers and Red Sox. Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated discusses this issue in his latest article. Verducci is 100% right – can you imagine the Red Sox playing for a playoff berth with David Ortiz riding the pine (have faith Red Sox nation, it could happen!) or the Tigers trying to get to October with Justin Verlander at the plate? You may also have NL teams playing without their pitchers hitting, which might give them an advantage towards a playoff spot in the final days over a fellow NL team playing at home and having their pitchers hit.
I do agree that after one season of this, MLB will make some drastic changes to how the interleague games are handled. Sadly, the schedule is not one way to fix it – you have to have interleague every day, so some teams will get “screwed” at the end of the season or will benefit from it, depending on if you root for an AL or NL team.
The main change they will probably make will be in regards to the use of the DH in NL parks. While having the NL teams use a DH isn’t as drastic as having the AL teams have their pitchers hit, this in itself will cause a problem Mainly, NL teams aren’t designed to have a DH on their roster – normally, they use their best offensive/worst defensive player as the DH and use a “defensive specialist” in their place in the field. Some NL teams this off-season went looking for players that could be used as a DH for when they play in AL stadiums.
This I do believe will eventually lead to the NL adding the DH permanently. MLB is the only sport that has two separate rules for it’s divisions. Can you imagine if the NFC followed one set of rules regarding player personnel and the AFC followed another and then if the two conferences played each other, the player personnel rules that applied to the game was determined by where the game was being played? It would cause chaos and it wouldn’t last more than a split second. MLB is the only sport where “traditionalists” and the “it’s the way it’s always been done” thinking prevent progress from happening in the sport.
The DH is not going away, so just give up that hope right now. There is no way the Players’ Union allows a roster spot to be removed, especially when it’s one that is generally filled by an aging veteran. If anything, you may see rosters expand to 26 players instead of the 25 you see now (don’t think this will happen though because AL teams have been using one of their 25 spots on the DH since 1973).
I personally prefer the DH. Maybe it’s because I’ve been an AL fan since birth or maybe it’s because the site of pitchers trying to hit just seems useless to me, especially when it’s an AL pitcher who doesn’t practice it.
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About the Author: Rich Stowe
Rich Stowe has written for many sports-based websites over the years including Informative Sports.com, Sports Nickel.com, Dugout Report.com and was a Featured Columnist for MLB and the New York Yankees for Bleacher Report. Rich is a Lifetime member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA). He is also a self-published author - his book "From Abused Puppy to Beloved Family Member: The Life Story of Jacob the Rottweiler" can be found for the Kindle and in print through amazon.com. Rich is currently serving as the Managing Editor of Sports Unbiased.com