Bean Soup With Ham(els) - Philly Rebuttal

I was going to post a comment on my colleague's previous post but decided that this rebuttal was better served as a stand-alone post.  As a Phillies fan, I thought that it was important to present a counter-argument to the Hamels vitrol. 

Let me be honest for a moment - I'm a die hard Phillies fan and I haven't always "liked" Cole Hamels.  In fact, I think that most Phillies fans would feel that way; it took the city a long time to warm up to Hollywood Hamels and for good reason.  His journey as a Phillie in the farm system started slow and unpromising as Hamels' reputation and health would both be questioned due to self-inflicted wounds (a broken hand suffered in a bar fight prior to the 2005 season and back issues contributed to him missing most of that season).  Phillies fans were skeptical, to say the least, that Hamels had what it takes to make it in the bigs but he ascended through the system, nonetheless.  He had instant success in the big leagues but he struggled at times with inconsistency.  Cole's struggles in those early years always stemmed from his inability to deal with adversity - it seemed like whenever an error occurred or Cole didn't get a strike, he would pout (show up his teammates) and lose focus, which ultimately lead to big innings and early exits.  For a town that prides itself on hard work and perseverance, you can certainly understand why the pouting was never appreciated. 

Cole's immaturity was maddening to Phillies fans in those early years but we saw him grow up before our eyes - we saw our tough love mold a young kid into a man.

I think that the admission is reminiscent of the young Cole.  It was immature for him to come out and say what he said and he shouldn't have said it but in a way, this incident makes him more beloved in Philly because of the message it sends to the Nationals - the message that the fans are dying to see play out on the field - that the Phillies aren't backing down.  The Nationals are an upstart team with great talent and Harper is the face of the Nats revolution.  Hitting Harper says that the Phillies aren't going to hand the Nationals anything.  Hitting Harper says that the Phillies aren't going down without a fight.  Let's face it, at the time of the comment, the Phillies weren't exactly playing great baseball; Hamels knows, like everyone else, that the Phillies need a spark and I think he was trying to stir things up. 

I like Harper - I think he handled it well.  I don't blame him or his reputation.  I don't think Cole was trying to be tough or anything like that; Cole would be the first to tell you that he's not Bob Gibson (despite his "old-timey" comment).  I think Cole was just trying to send a message to his team and to the Nationals, in general and Bryce Harper, the new face of the upstart franchise, was the best representative to receive that message.

This Bryce Harper incident has dragged Hamels across the hot coals; it brings to light a side of Cole that we all would rather forget is there but I'm not sure all of the criticism is warranted.  Like it or not, purposely hitting players is part of the game - there were a total of 1,554 HBP in 2011 and I'm pretty sure a fairly decent percentage of them were intentional and very few (if any) resulted in a suspension - Hamels hitting Harper for standing too close to the plate or to send a message is not Earth shattering.  John Lannan hit Chase Utley and Ryan Howard three times each as a National (once ending Utley's season)... it happens.  In fact, an intentional bean-ball occurred in the third inning of that same game and I'm still wondering why no one is talking about Jordan Zimmerman NOT getting suspended for intentionally hitting Cole Hamels in the third inning as a retaliation.  It's pretty clear to me that the message MLB is sending is that the act of intentionally throwing at a player is not the problem - the problem is that he admitted to it (had Cole not said anything, no punishment would have been issued).  I think it's unfortunate that Hamels was suspended for being honest.  In hindsight, it was immature for him to come out and say that the pitch was intentional (even though we all knew that it was) but if it sparks the Phillies, I'm glad that he did.  But next time, lie, Cole.


  1. As a Phillies fan also, I disagree with OCP. I didn't get the same message he did. I thought it was a dumb move by Hamels.

    First, he wanted to send the message OCP states to the Nationals, I think striking out Harper 3 times or shutting out the Nats would have sent that message. By hitting Harper he set himself up for retaliation when he came up to bat. What if Cole would have gotten hurt when that happened and had to miss time?

    Secondly, now Harper has a reason to be a Phillies killer the rest of his career, and don't think he'll forget what Hamels did.

    Third, it was totally stupid to admit to it. The Phils got a break when he was only suspended 5 games and not more. The team is struggling right now and not afford Cole to miss starts.

    Next time Cole, ask someone else first if they think it's a good idea.

  2. I did hear several MSM journalists question the fact Zimmerman didn't get suspended as well.

    But, I disagree that Hamels got suspended for being honest.

    MLB has suspended pitchers in the past who've denied their intent. The trick is, in those cases, MLB has to decide if they think the pitcher is lying. In Hamels' case, he simply made the decision easy.

  3. Had he kept his mouth shut, I don't think Hamels would have been suspended but you are right in saying that Major League Baseball has suspended pitchers who denied their intention. Suspending pitchers is rare, though... +1500 HBP's last year and very few suspensions. In Hamels' case, the pitch wasn't high (nowhere near the head) and Bryce didn't react in a manner that suggested that he thought it was malicious... he shrugged it off... so I think it would have been a non-issue and maybe that's why they chose not to suspend Zimmerman (almost like an extra slap in the face).

    Thanks for stopping in.


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