Kirk Kenney: DH coming to the National League? Totally bogus.
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Kirk Kenney: DH coming to the National League? Totally bogus.

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Madison Bumgarner (40) of the San Francisco Giants gets a base hit against the Philadelphia Phillies in the bottom of the third inning on Aug. 8, 2019 at Oracle Park in San Francisco, Calif.

Madison Bumgarner (40) of the San Francisco Giants gets a base hit against the Philadelphia Phillies in the bottom of the third inning on Aug. 8, 2019 at Oracle Park in San Francisco, Calif. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images/TNS)

"If we don't get some cool rules ourselves - pronto - we'll just be bogus, too."

- Jeff Spicoli, interpreting the words of Thomas Jefferson

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The National League has had a cool rule since its inception 144 years ago - everybody bats.

That includes the pitcher.

Now comes word that this season - if there is a this season - a universal DH will be used in both the National League and American League.

The AL has used a designated hitter since 1973, ever since Boston pitcher Luis Tiant faced the Yankees' Ron Blomberg (he walked).

The NL has remained true to the game all these years, refusing to give in to peer pressure. Or pressure from the MLB Players Association, which has been pushing for a DH for more than three decades (the better to keep all hit/no field players employed).

There is no good reason to give in now. There is plenty of offense in the game. It was pitching dominance in the late 1960s that led the AL to take the bat out of the pitchers' hands.

To the idea of bringing the DH to the National League I ask - What's so fun about that?

Eight is enough. Hitters, I mean.

Having the pitcher bat adds an element of strategy to the game. It also makes the pitcher more accountable. Plunk an opposing hitter with a purpose pitch and you will have to own up to your actions when you step to the plate.

May as well outlaw bunting while they're at it because that element of the game will be all but extinct now, too.

I've always enjoyed seeing the pitcher come to the plate.

Sure he fails more often than he succeeds. But when a pitcher comes through with a key hit, it always makes a game more memorable.

And it's enjoyable to see that rare pitcher who can also hit.

I recall the Dodgers' Don Drysdale swinging the bat pretty well. Twice in his career he hit seven homers in a season.

In the early 1980s, the Padres' Tim Lollar also could hit, batting .234 during his days in San Diego with three straight double-digit RBI seasons.

The Marlins' Dontrelle Willis also could run into one every now and then.

There are those memorable moments that never would have been had the DH been in place.

I wrote recently about former Padres pitcher Anthony Bass, whose first career hit in 2012 was a bases-loaded triple that very easily could have been an inside-the-park grand slam.

The Giants' Madison Bumgarner, who has 19 career home runs, was in the discussion as a participant in the home run derby at the 2016 All-Star Game when it was at Petco Park. How fun would that have been?

That same year, the Mets' 42-year-old Bartolo Colon connected in the second inning with a James Shields fastball at Petco Park for his first career home run.

Colon, a notoriously bad hitter with a .084 career average, brought the crowd to its feet with the headline-making feat. He was so excited that he called his father on a cellphone from the dugout before the game even ended.

Last April, Arizona pitcher Zack Greinke hit two home runs at Petco Park to lead the D-backs to a victory over the Padres.

Most fans - besides those with noses buried in their cellphones or focused on which hat the ball is under on the video board - won't see much difference, anyway.

NL pitchers batted a collective .131 last season while DHs used by NL teams during interleague games last year hit .225.

That's less than one hit for every 10 at-bats, so about one additional hit every 2 1/2 games.

So if you're at a typical game, you're more likely to see the DH strike out or ground out than do something productive.

There are those who say this will prevent pitchers from injuries related to hitting or running the bases, pointing to when the Nationals' Max Scherzer injured his thumb swinging a bat and the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright hurt his Achilles stumbling out of the batter's box.

I would suggest that many more pitchers have been injured in offseason hunting accidents, cutting themselves opening a can of soup or opening the garage door.

For instance:

Braves Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz burned himself while ironing his shirt (you need to take it off first, John).

Rangers pitcher Greg A. Harris once missed two starts because of an injury suffered while flicking sunflower seeds at a teammate in the dugout.

Tigers pitcher Joel Zamaya hurt his wrist playing "Guitar Hero."

Red pitcher Steve Sparks suffered a dislocated shoulder while tearing a phone book in half (don't ask).

The list goes on and on.

Imagine if the DH had been in place from baseball's beginnings.

History may have remembered George Ruth as a left-handed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, rather than as Babe Ruth, the Yankees' Sultan of Swat.

After all, Ruth was a full-time pitcher his first three years in the major leagues and tracking toward a Hall of Fame career on the mound (he had a 94-46 career record with a 2.28 ERA).

Had a DH been used for him during his rookie year in 1915, Ruth never would have batted .315 with four home runs and 20 RBIs in just 92 at-bats for Boston.

He never would have put up similar numbers his second and third years with the Red Sox.

And the stage would not have been set to jump to 11 homers and 61 RBIs in 1918 and 29 homers and 113 RBIs in 1919 while transitioning from the mound to the everyday lineup.

If Ruth doesn't emerge as a slugger, then Yankees manager Miller Huggins never ask owner Jacob Ruppert to "get Ruth from Boston."

There never would have been a House That Ruth Built. Perhaps no Yankees dynasty.

And the game never would have been transformed.

We all know what that would have been.

Totally bogus.

Visit The San Diego Union-Tribune at www.sandiegouniontribune.com

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