I know I wrote about Bryce Harper last week, and I don’t want to become one of those writers who becomes obsessive over player – but what transpired during Sunday night’s Washington Nationals vs. Philadelphia Phillies game deserves some attention.
On Sunday evening, Phillies’ starter Cole Hamels plunked Nationals’ rookie phenom Bryce Harper in the back. Immediately, people questioned whether or not the pitch was intentional and after the game, Hamels had no problem revealing that it was.
Because Cole Hamels is apparently an “old school” baseball player.
“Unfortunately, the league’s protecting certain players and making it not that old-school, prestigious way of baseball,” said Hamels during a postgame interview.
The thing is, Bryce Harper’s style of play is pretty old school if you ask me. He plays with a swagger that emulates the elite players (don’t tell me they weren’t cocky) of the past. He plays hard and never stops, nor does he back down. He’s a traditional diamond dirtbag who is merely in desperate need of a haircut.
But apparently pretty-boy Hamels doesn’t approve. “I’m just trying to continue the old baseball because I think some people are kind of getting away from it. I remember when I was a rookie the strike zone was really, really small and you didn’t say anything because that’s the way baseball is,” Hamels said.
When you were a rookie? Cole, you were a rookie in 2006. The game has not changed since then.
I can understand Hamels’ frustration with the Harper hype. ESPN can’t seem to say a bad thing about Harper and if I took a shot for every Harper tweet I’ve seen, I would’ve had to get my stomach pumped days ago. But plunking a player as a “welcome” to the majors is a weak agenda, regardless if you like the player or not. Harper may be cocky and one of the game’s most polarizing players, but he’s done nothing but prove he can hang in the big leagues. Plunking him accomplishes nothing. Besides, what gives Hamels the right to decide how the game of baseball should be played?
But what gets me is Hamels’ ignorance after the game. Some argue that they admire his honesty as he admitted the hit Harper on purpose. But why not just shrug it off and leave it at that, instead instigating further drama and embarrassing your organization?
Hamels has received a five-game suspension and a fine due to his actions and his own organization is unhappy with his remarks.
Before Monday’s game against the New York Mets, Philies’ general manager Ruben Amaro said he was disappointed in Hamels’ decision to throw at Harper.
“Obviously that’s not what we’re about,” Amaro said. “We’re not about trying to injure people. Things that happen in the game happen in the game. Those are parts of the game. But as far as how the Phillies want to conduct themselves, we try to take the high road on things. By no means are we condoning this. We fully support what the commissioner’s office has decided to do.”
Manager Charlie Manuel didn’t seem upset that Hamels threw at Harper, but didn’t seem to approve of Hamels’ postgame honesty.
“He can be a little bit more discreet about it or a little bit less honest,” Manuel said. “Baseball is going to take care of it the way you take care of it, that is between the two teams.”
Instead of keeping his mouth shut, Hamels had to play the role of the tough guy. He had to announce that yes, he hit Harper on purpose, because apparently he was teaching Harper a lesson. Well done, Hamels. Nothing makes you tougher than picking on a rookie kid. What’s next, tripping kids in the sandbox? Why not settle things the professional way, but striking Harper out? If you ask me, that’s a lot more satisfying. The joke was on Hamels anyway, as Harper went on to steal home on him after reaching base.
A five-game suspension may sound excessive, but intentionally throwing at anyone, regardless of the situation, is nothing to be overlooked. Sure, it’s part of the game, but plunking a rookie who has never hit off of you or created issues with your team is senseless and immature.
The Harper hype may be annoying, but we all knew it was coming. It’s something that has been building over the years. The day he inked his deal with the Nationals as a 17-year-old, the baseball world began preparing itself for “baseball’s Lebron.” If you haven’t grown to accept the hype by now, you’re in for a rough year. So far, Harper has proved he can hang in the big leagues and thanks to guys like Hamels, Harper will continue to remain in the headlines.