A week from today, we will finally see the first sign of Spring. Pitchers and catchers are slated to report to MLB facilities in Florida and Arizona. Two weeks after that, spring training games will begin.
Before the 2021 season began, baseball management and the players union agreed to some temporary rule changes for a second Covid-19 influenced baseball season. Doubleheaders will still be 7 inning games. Extra inning games will feature a runner on second base. I particularly hate that. That's a slow pitch softball rule. I'd rather have ties than that rule.
I have long despised the designated hitter rule. I have several reasons, but the major one is that it removes the major strategic decision from the game. Baseball is not a sport which has a lot of obvious strategic decisions that fans can discuss and debate. Whether to pull a pitcher who is performing well in favor of a pinch-hitter is an exception. But with the DH, there is no debate - you just "designate" a good hitter at the start of the game and let him bat for whichever pitcher enters the game. Outside of whether to have a left or right-handed designated hitter depending on pitching matchups, there's no strategy involved.
Since the DH slot is often filled by a high-paid veteran player who no longer can play the field, the player's union loves it. Since the union seems willing to accept more playoff teams (don't get me started with devaluing a 162 game season by adding yet more regular season losers to the playoffs) in exchange for the DH, it seems inevitable the National League will adopt the DH soon.
So reluctantly I offer this simple proposal for improving the DH. Tie the DH to the particular pitcher he is batting for. Let's say Smith starts the game on the mound. Jones is designated to bat for Smith. But if Smith leaves the game so too does Jones. If a relief pitcher's slot in the order comes up, the manager can designate another hitter for that relief pitcher. That new DH will bat for that pitcher as long as he continues pitching.
Let's say that a relief pitcher's spot comes up, and the manager just needs a runner bunted over. The manager might just keep the pitcher in to do that rather than burn a position player as DH.
By tying the DH to a particular pitcher, you're adding back into the game a lot of strategy you take out with the current DH rule.
Yes, I am available to take the MLB Commissioner job.