Buster Olney: “I Bet You (Cole Hamels) Gets Five Games”
Adding a little insiderese to your early week, water cooler talk about Cole Hamels' in-game decisions (and post-game admissions) about how to handle his first at-bat against Nationals' teen Bryce Harper. And questions about it after.
Which, if you didn't hear, went something like this: Harper came to the plate in the first. Hamels drilled Harper in the back bacon. (Harper stole home, making for the first such teen theft since 1964.) Hamels said he did it on purpose. Fin.
And, maybe, possibly, likely, intermission for Hamels for a week.
Said Olney, on a Monday morning hit with ESPN Radio's Mike and Mike: "But when Cole says something like that, the commissioner doesn't really have a choice, I don't think, because Cole tells the world it was his intent to hit him. I bet you he gets five games."
Which, it should be noted, for the sake of a telling and timely comp, was the same ban the league office tagged Indians pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez with back in April, for plunking teammate-turned-target Troy Tulowitski -- and following it up with some theatrics, making for, quite possibly, the first time in the game's 200-plus years of documented mound-to-plate shenanigans that a pitcher charged the plate. (Which, if context clues here are failing you, made for a Windex-clear an admission of Jimenez' intent.)
Really, basically, essentially, what this boils down to? Hamels' bumping his gums.
Because, as Greeny notes in what was the first-ever, impassioned, pro-Philly rant on Mike and Mike in its 13-year history, everybody thought they knew what Hamels was doing. Thing is, as Olney quips there was still a spider web-thick shadow of a doubt. And then Hamels started talking.
Said Olney: "I knew that he hit him on purpose with 99.9 percent certainty. But there was that little bit that pitchers always leave, and that's where the deniability comes in, and that's where pitchers always say, "Well, it got away, it came inside." Everyone knows, but no one says it out loud.
"You're right, because he acknowledged it, that's when you crossed the line."
And, maybe, strategically so.
What? You didn't mull the possibility that Hamels' pitch wasn't the only thing that was contrived? That maybe he gave just as much thought to his at-the-podium posturing? While the team might need everydayers to ensure a sweep against the Mets Monday (May 7) thru Wendesday (May 9), Hamels wasn't due up until Saturday (May 12) against the Padres. Which, yeah, kind of makes for something less than mandatory for him to show up to.
To that end, yeah, we kind of dig the dig Hamels took at Harper -- both on the mound and in front of the mic. Maybe the Phillies couldn't take the season series opener. But if they could only win one of three games, why not go down swinging? Kicking and screaming? Pelting, and proudly, unapologetically so?
(This article was written by Matt Hammond, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org)