Jobu reacts to Cole Hamels’ antics against the Nationals this past Sunday night.
This post kind of has the feel of something I’d be more apt to write about on my other blog, but I wanted to share it with you sports fans first (also this blog gets a lot more readers than the other one… for now). Let me first state that I have no problem with a player getting hit by a pitchso that a pitcher can prove a point. Sometimes batters get douchey, and they need to be taught a lesson. When you do what Cole Hamels did, however, you’re just kind of being a dumbass.
Let’s take it back to Sunday night, when the Phillies were playing the suddenly resurgent Washington Nationals. Their visit to the nation’s capital was not just a chance to take in some of our country’s greatest monuments, statues and museums. More importantly, it was a chance for the Phillies to meet Bryce Harper, the Nationals’ hottest new commodity. Harper came into the night hitting .261 in his first seven major league games (0-7 in the series against the Phillies). In Harper’s very first at bat of the game, Hamels, a pitcher known for his impeccable control, drilled him just above the butt with a fastball. Curious? Yes. While the announcers didn’t think there was any intent to the pitch, I wasn’t so sure, and neither were the Nationals fans in attendance. After the game, Hamels removed all curiosity when he, without a doubt or hesitation, admitted to hitting Harper on purpose.
As much as I thought the pitch looked purposeful, I never expected Hamels to admit to it. Who does that? In baseball, no matter how obvious it looks, even if you write “purpose pitch” on the baseball before throwing it and do a jig when the ball hits its target, you don’t admit to it! You say the typical athlete BS soundbite of “we were trying to pitch inside and it just got away from me a little bit.” I don’t care if you then run over to your crumpled opponent and elbow drop him for good measure. The pitch is always supposed to be one that just got away.
Hamels said: “I was trying to hit him. I’m not going to deny it. I’m not trying to injure the guy. They’re probably not going to like me for it, but I’m not going to say I wasn’t trying to do it. I think they understood the message, and they threw it right back. That’s the way, and I respect it.” (espn.com)
In a way, you kind of have to respect that. You wish athletes would be more honest with their words, instead of a Derek Jeter or Álex Rodríguez who, although it is kind of the way you’re supposed to do things, tend to just give emotionless, clichéd quotations when controversial things happen on the field (note: I am not comparing A-Rod and Jeter in levels of class. There is no comparison there). At the same time though, all Hamels’ words really did was guarantee his suspension. The Nationals got the message. They hit Hamels in the shin when he came up to the plate later in the game. The issue was over, and there probably wouldn’t have been any discipline handed down from the league (pitches get away from guys every day).
Instead, Hamels gave the league’s disciplinarians all the ammo they needed to suspend him. I think a scheduled off-day will allow Hamels to not have to miss a start during his suspension, but I’m sure that wasn’t part of his plan. He didn’t hit Bryce Harper on Sunday because he knew his team’s schedule would allow him to serve his suspension without hurting his team by missing a start. He hit Harper because he wanted to, and he admitted to it because, as he claims, he is “old school.” Not for nothing Cole, but “old school” guys didn’t talk about it to the press. “Old school” guys handled everything on the field, and didn’t talk about it.
Old School Baseball:
The odd part is that, at least from what I have seen, Harper has done nothing but quell the worries about his maturity and attitude since his call-up, by playing hard and doing the right thing. To his credit, Harper didn’t stay at the plate posturing towards Hamels when he got hit. He didn’t stare Hamels down on his way to first base. He didn’t even seem that upset by the plunking. He pretty much just dropped his bat, stretched his back a little and jogged to first. So far, the kid is acting like a real major leaguer, and I’m happy with what I have seen. He also then made Hamels pay for the beaning with his base running. Harper ended up on third after a single and stole home on a pick-off throw to first base. Hit me? I’ll come around to score. That’s the best way to get your revenge. That’s old school too.
I won’t go as far with my criticisms of Cole as Nats GM Mike Rizzo did with his, though. Rizzo called Hamels “gutless” and ” classless” for hitting their “19-year-old rookie with eight games in the big leagues” to prove a point. Easy, Mike. The truth is, Hamels was welcoming the kid to the big leagues and showing him that the Phillies weren’t about to lay down for him like everyone did in his high school, college and minor league careers. The league tends to protect certain players, and Hamels wanted to show Harper that he would not be participating in the coddling. That’s all. There’s nothing wrong with it. Just shut up about it afterwords Cole.
That being said, I’d love you on the Yankees. Please come. You can hit whoever you want and then write a post about it for Jobu’s Rum the next day if you want. I’m willing to give you 1,000 words per week. We’ll call it “Hanging With Hamels” or “Coolin’ With Cole.” It’ll be awesome.
Featured image courtesy of: Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire
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