On Sunday Night, Cole Hamels and the Philadelphia Phillies were taking on the new and improved Washington Nationals. After losing the first two games of the series, the Phils were out to make a statement. With the new addition of the 19 year old phenom, Bryce Harper, Hamels thought that he would take the opportunity to welcome him to the Bigs. In the first inning, Hamels plunked Harper and it seemed pretty evident that with two outs, it was intentional. So be it. As soon as Harper was hit, the purposefulness was clear. And that’s ok. It’s important for pitchers to establish their presence on the mound and brushing back or hitting a rookie (especially one with the hype of Bryce Harper) is acceptable in baseball. Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling did it. Roger Clemens did it with balls (and bats). It’s just part of the game. Later in the game Nats starting pitcher, Jordan Zimmerman, returned the favor to Hamels when he was squared to bunt. So be it. That is baseball. That’s how the game has always been played. This is not the first time a hitter has been intentionally hit, and definitely won’t be the last.
But then, after the game, when asked if he hit Harper intentionally, Hamels said, “I was trying to hit him, I’m trying to continue the old baseball. I think some people kind of get away from it.” Ok, so yeah, that probably wasn’t the smartest of comments to make, but at least he was being honest. Well that comment enraged GM Mike Rizzo of the Nationals. He goes on to say, “Cole Hamels says he’s old school? He’s the polar opposite of old school. He’s fake tough. He thinks he’s going to intimidate us after hitting our 19-year-old rookie who’s eight games into the big leagues? He doesn’t know who he’s dealing with.”
Frankly, neither do I Mike Rizzo, I had to look you up on Wikipedia just to see who you are and what you have done in your past, which was nothing. I guess you are “real tough” person aren’t you. Why don’t you have Jordan Zimmerman throw at Cole Hamels (which is never the way to return a favor- usually a team will reciprocate back at a position player, more times than not, the catcher).
Zimmerman was asked after the game if he had intentionally hit Hamels purposely. He denied, truthfully or not, because that’s what pitchers do. At least Hamels was man enough to stand in front of his actions. He could have easily denied that he threw at Harper because Harper’s weakness, if he has one, is the inside part of the plate. He can expect to have pitchers busting him inside for a while.
Do you think Mike Rizzo that maybe Cole Hamels wasn’t even trying to be tough, that it was a sign of respect to Harper? Everyone knows that Bryce Harper is the next big thing. Cole Hamels already is one of the best in the game (Just wait til you see the money he’s gonna get paid next year). I believe Hamels was trying to say, “Hey man, I know you are going to be great, but you haven’t reached anything yet, Welcome to the Bigs.” Not a big deal, this has happened to almost any player with the type of hype Harper has. I guarantee that Mike Rizzo could care less about Bryce Harpers actual health, that he cares more about the money he has invested into him- seeing him as a product, more than a person.
It is actually laughable that he goes on to compare this situation to the New Orleans Saints bounty stuff and that player safety should take precedent. Are you kidding me Mike Rizzo, it’s a hit batter. If you are so worried about player safety, why did you throw back at Hamels. That doesn’t seem very safe now does it.
As much as I hate to say this, I think the league did make the right call in suspending Hamels, because you must set a precedent for boasting about plunking batters or you will see this happening more and more. It’s okay though, Cole Hamels won’t even miss a start.
This should set the table for an exciting series, May 21-May 23, in Philadelphia. Make sure you get your popcorn because this is only the beginning of this saga.