During last night's Phillies-Nationals game, Phillies starter hit Bryce Harper in the back on the first pitch of the at bat. Harper would later get the last laugh as he'd come around to steal home in the inning. In a post-game interview, Hamels actually admitted that he was attempting to hit Harper, and it wasn't just "a ball that slipped away from him". Matt Gelb of of the Philadelphia Inquirer has the full details of the interview. The key quote: "I was trying to hit him. I'm not going to deny it." Hamels then went on to talk about a small strike zone as a rookie, and how he's just trying to live up to old-time baseball, and how the league is protecting players.
My response to you, Cole? Bullcrap. How in the hell is Bryce Harper being protected eight games into his professional career? Is it because he's walked five times while only striking out four? Hamels's issue must be the Friday game in the series, in which Harper walked three times. During Harper's first walk, only one called ball came anywhere near the strike zone. The ball four call came on a checked swing by Harper, and it was a borderline call. Without a third base umpire, it was impossible to get an appeal on the play, though. During Harper's second walk, no called ball came remotely close to the plate. None of the four balls thrown to Harper on his third walk were close, either (note: two pitches don't appear on the PitchFX link because they were in the dirt).
I'm not sure where this protection garbage is coming from, but I expected more out of a guy like Hamels. That's bush league stuff. You can't admit in the year 2012 that you were trying to hit a batter. Ubaldo Jimenez threw at fomer teammate Troy Tulowitzki this spring, like Hamels, without an intent to injure, and he denied that he was trying to hit him. He got five games. Jeanmar Gomez of the Indians threw at Mike Moustakas last month, denied it, and got five games. By the same token, Jordan Zimmermann should receive a suspension for hitting Hamels in the third inning of the game.
If the MLB doesn't suspend either player for their actions, I'd be stunned, given the precedent. Hamels coming out and saying that he intentionally tried to hit Harper was possibly the dumbest thing he could have done. If the MLB sits him down for at least a week, I wouldn't bat my eyes. You can argue about "old-fashioned baseball" as much as you want, but you just can't throw at a guy and then admit that you did it on purpose. It's foolish and irresponsible.
Photo courtesy of Daylife.com
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