Outta the way, actual pinch-hitters and American League DHs. San Diego Padres starting pitcher Clayton Richard is coming up and he doesn't need your help to get on base:
Richard, who started the season 0 for 16, stroked a two-out single and later scored the game-ending run in the 13th inning for a 3-2 interleague victory against the Angels on Sunday. Padres manager Bud Black had run out of position players, so he sent up Richard, a .116 hitter in 149 career plate appearances. Big advantage for Angels pitcher David Pauley, right? Silly, outdated NL rules strike blow against common sense again, yes?
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Not this time, percentages and winds of change! Instead of meekly striking out or grounding harmlessly to first like most pitchers would, Richard went the other way with a sharp single to left. One batter later, he came around to score from first base on a single by Will Venable after outfielder Howie Kendrick bobbled the ball in left-center field for an error. A backup quarterback at Michigan before being drafted by the White Sox in 2005, Richard made like Tom Brady sneaking into the end zone on a naked bootleg when he rumbled in for the winning run without a slide.
''Just straight Michigan quarterback sprinting," Black said.
So, when Universal DH Armageddon comes, and it's coming, those partial to the NL way of doing things will point to this awesome moment and claim, "See? Pitchers can hit for themselves. How else will we get the kind of unique drama that was created on what became to be known as "Oh, my! Clayton Richard Sunday"?
And they will have a point, if not a logical one. So even if it makes sense that a fully integrated Major League Baseball play by the same rules in both the AL and NL, and that those rules include a DH to bypass the mostly sad results that ensue when pitchers usually try to hit, keeping things the way they are has an understandable attraction to it. Call it emotional stability. Keeping one foot in the past, for tradition's sake, is comforting.
That said, NL fans should come over to the dark side. Embrace the DH. Sometimes, they even get two or three hits in a game and make the scoreboard move even more. Imagine the possibilities. It would keep all pitchers on the mound, where they belong.