2 September 2015: Why I like #pitcherswhorakePosted: September 2, 2015
Editor’s Note: After a way-too-long hiatus, SezYou is back in action. If this is your first time stopping by, welcome to a lightly snarky father-daughter duo with a passion for baseball and too much to say. So we say it here…comments welcome.
For most of the 22 years I have spent on Earth, I have been watching baseball. And inning after inning, year after year, one thing remains consistent: pitchers aren’t supposed to be hitters. In fact, I became increasingly aware of the image of the pitcher who does not simply struggle, but is embarrassingly bad in the batter’s box – holding his bat as if it were a foreign object and waving at three consecutive fastballs or curveballs, or anything the opposing pitcher serves up, prior to his retreat to the dugout.
And yet, as a die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan, somewhere along the way, I also fell in love with the
National League and the way the game is played in that league, with the pitcher batting ninth (and sometimes eighth). My love for the way the National League plays the game extended into the late innings as I tried to predict the manager’s moves when it came to double switches, pinch hitters and when to bring in a reliever. As a young fan, I watched Adam Wainwright transition from post-season closer to an integral part of the Cardinals’ starting rotation, and then again to fill the role of “ace” following Chris Carpenter’s retirement. During this time, I noticed something about the way Wainwright approached the plate. He didn’t seem to be intimidated by his opponent on the mound. Now, maybe some of that confidence comes from Waino being 6’8” (I, mean, who really can intimidate that?), but the more at-bats of his I watched, the more assured I became that he believed he could give his team the lead, and in turn, I believed it too.
Fast forward to 2015, and every other MLB headline I read is about Madison Bumgarner or Zack Greinke adding another huge hit to their ever-growing collection of huge hits. And yet, there are whispers here and there about how MLB should make the switch to having the designated hitter in
both leagues. Sure, most pitchers are not Bumgarner or Greinke. Sure, there still are plenty of pitchers who are going to hate every second of standing at the plate waiting for their inevitable demise. And yes, I am aware that the very pitcher to whom I partially credit my current opinions regarding the DH is out all season with an Achilles injury he suffered while running out of the batter’s box. And yet, Bumgarner is performing late-inning heroics for the Giants as a pinch hitter. And recently, Tigers’ lefty Daniel Norris gave his team the lead with a home run to dead center field in his first professional plate appearance (meaning his first at bat in both the Major and Minor Leagues, folks), becoming the first American League pitcher to ever hit a homer at Wrigley Field. That, to me, is exciting baseball in a time when we’re trying to remind people how much fun this game can be.
If I had to guess, I would say the Dodgers feel like they’re going to win when Greinke takes the mound, as well as when he steps to the plate. I would guess a 7-year old Norris could not have envisioned a better first at-bat at Wrigley. And I would guess that next season, Wainwright is going to continue to step to the plate with the same confidence I saw years ago as a kid staying up too late to watch her favorite team.
Not to mention, at 6’5”, 235 lbs., who is going to volunteer for taking a bat out of Bumgarner’s hands? Anyone? I certainly am not.