In defense of “swinging a wet newspaper”

“I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter.”

That’s a quote from the iconic baseball movie Bull Durham. A constitutional amendment is a bit extreme, but I too am not a fan of the designated hitter. If you don’t know, the DH bats in place of the pitcher in the American League. This means AL pitchers are almost never on the other side of the plate, and the DH doesn’t get as much experience playing defense as the other players do.

The best baseball players are well-rounded. They can hit and play good defense. While those players exist all across the major leagues, almost none are pitchers. It’s understandable that they put all their energy into their pitching, and it pays off for aces like Washington Nationals starter (and Mizzou alum!) Max Scherzer. In 2015, Scherzer (above) told the media he would be OK with the National League implementing the DH:

“Who would people rather see, a real hitter hitting home runs or a pitcher swinging a wet newspaper?”

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher and powerhouse hitter Madison Bumgarner took issue with Scherzer’s words and responded with:

“Oh, well, my wet newspaper is 34 ½ inches, 33 ½ ounces, and I’m waiting on some new ones right now.”

In 2016, Bumgarner hit six doubles. In 2015, he hit a career-high five homers. 2014 is his best batting season so far — he had 10 runs and 17 hits in 31 games. He had no hits in the 2014 playoffs, but that was because he put all his energy into what became a World Series win for the Giants. He struck out eight times and walked once in 15 at-bats in that whole postseason. Still not half bad for a pitcher.

MadBum isn’t the only pitcher who can hit. I’ll cover that in the next post.

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