As we approach the All-Star game, there have been many discussions around Madison Bumgarner entering the home run derby.
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Everybody knows that there is a potential risk to having your ace tweak an oblique while doing something he isn’t truly paid to do. But we live in a world where you have to take chances sometimes. And even if Bumgarner didn’t hit even one over the fence at Petco Park (not likely with his power though), at least he would show the next generation that two-dimensional baseball players are still around.
Much was made a few months back about comments made by Rob Manfred concerning the designated hitter. It was said that the DH would be considered for the National League, but the talk quickly quieted down.
As was stated at the time, the game of baseball is meant to be one that is played by adults and little children. If the DH were to get approval by the NL, what is stopping all levels from doing the same. Not just allowing a DH, but requiring it.
And if that were the case, what is to stop coaches and parents of youth baseball teams from having kids become one-dimensional at the age of six. “Your arm is great Tommy, you should be a pitcher. You don’t need to swing the bat anymore, there will be a designated hitter to do that.”
Without the “threat” of hitting in the National League, pitchers will no longer need to focus on that aspect.
What does that give us?
A bunch of pitchers who have no idea about what it is like to be standing in the batter’s box. And a permanent DH, who never needs to buy a glove. Heck you can draft them as a duo, and they can take half of the salary since they only do half the work.
Believe me, there are plenty of awful-hitting pitchers in baseball. But that is part of the spectacle of the sport. It’s a surprise when a pitcher contributes with his bat. It’s a bonus to have one of those guys, an extra bonus when you have multiple. (And they compete at the plate just as they do on the mound, just ask Jeff Samardzija.)
As has been said, the risks are there to expose your number one starter to injury. But that risk also occurs every time he takes batting practice. I am sure no one is out there telling him to settle down while he is trying to hit the Coke bottle. Let’s be real and stop babying our players, they know what their bodies can and can’t do.
Giving hope to the notion that pitchers can hit the ball could prove to be very important if it inspires young ballplayers to develop their swing at every level they play.
As they say throwing a complete game shutout and hitting a home run assures a victory.