…or at least I thought you were.
Baseball has some interesting and unwritten rules. Such as, it’s perfectly acceptable to throw directly AT a batter. In many situations, it’s considered the appropriate move. I can’t argue with that; it’s as much a part of the game as the designated hitter, the infield fly rule and interleague play.
However, I draw the line when it’s done in a classless and unprofessional manner as the Phillies Cole Hamels did to Bryce Harper last night. That was a 93 MPH fastball right in the back of the rookie.
Hamels admitted today that he threw at Harper on purpose. And for some reason, and now I can’t figure out why, it stunned me.
Until last night, I had a lot of respect for Hamels. For years he’s been a solid pitcher and the Phillies have cast him aside with the additions of Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. He’s taken his role in the rotation with class and respect.
Maybe that’s why it bothers me so much that a talented veteran, with a passion and love for this game placed a mental target on the back of a talented and then proceeded to hit it as if it were his catcher’s glove.
A 93 MPH fastball.
“I was trying to hit him,” Hamels told the Philadelphia Inquirer when asked about the pitch. “I’m not going to deny it. It’s something I grew up watching. That’s what happened. I’m just trying to continue the old baseball.”
Old baseball? I’ve been around this game for quite a few years. I’ve played it and watched it and studied it. That’s not old baseball. That’s not even new baseball.
If Hamels was trying to send a message to Harper, he failed.
First, Harper missed it because he stole home after the hit-by-pitch put him on the base paths. Second, what’s the message? You’re a talented rookie who is finding success in your first few weeks in the major leagues, so I’m going to nail you to…. what… send tell you that it’s not cool to be good anymore? I must be missing something.
Was he crowding the plate? No. Was this retaliation for Jordan Zimmerman hitting a Phillie? No. So what was the purpose behind the pitch?
The way Hamels sends a message to Harper is to use that strong fastball and great selection of pitches to strike him out, not take a cheap shot.
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