Debates on the designated hitter rule tend to end in a stalemate because of an "all or nothing" approach -- it's either everyone has a DH, or everyone doesn't. But once you compromise and get creative, it becomes a more reasonable discussion.
For the sake of argument, we're going to say the split rules are a bad thing: The AL and NL should play by the same rules. For further sake of argument, we will presume that the pro-DH and anti-DH people will never accept each other. We need a mixed solution.
So we are looking for hybrid rules that can exist in both the NL and AL. While I didn't create each of these solutions, I am championing them.
Solution 1: House Rules
Let the home manager make the call. Just as in spring training, when the managers decide whether to play with a DH, and just as in the World Series when they alternate the DH, this rule allows for an interesting variance. The marketplace will decide how much DH is too much DH. There is story potential for every game -- the bloggers will cry out that the hometown Cubs should have selected no DH because Carlos Zambrano is a far better hitter than Ben Sheets.
Solution 2: One-and-Done
Make the DH a pinch-hitter for the pitcher, but let the pitcher stay in the game. The manager has to decide how much he wants to deplete his bench. He can go to four pinch-hitters in a game while his pitcher pitches a complete game, or he can let the pitcher bat in low-leverage situations. The marketplace will decide how much DH is too much DH, with an in-game cost. There is story potential if the bench gets depleted.
Solution 3: My Bodyguard
An offshoot to Solution 2: As long as the starting pitcher remains in the game, so does his DH. Once the starter comes out of the game, so does the DH. In short, the DH becomes a pitcher's personal batter. If the starter is pulled for a reliever, the manager can pair a new DH for that reliever. But since relievers rarely come to bat more than once, this DH would become a de facto pinch hitter.
Solution 4: Relay
This is the antithesis to Solution 3: After the DH completes his at-bat, the manager selects either the pitcher or the DH to stay in the game. If the pitcher remains, the DH is one-and-done. If the DH remains, a reliever comes in. Repeat with subsequent pitcher/DH pairings.
So, there you have it: Four solutions that are more interesting, less polarizing (maybe) and possibly unifying. Now it's your turn -- vote for the one you like best. If you have other hybrid solutions, use the comments field -- I'd love to hear them.
Tom Tango writes for Inside The Book.