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Cole Hamels beaning Bryce Harper: The Pros and Cons of Keeping it Real

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There have been mixed reactions across the Delaware Valley over the last 24 hours from Phillies fans stemming from Cole Hamels’ decision to intentionally bean Nationals’ rookie phenom Bryce Harper in Sunday night’s final game of Washington’s ‘Take Back the Park’ weekend series against the Phillies.

 Photo: CBSNEWS.com
 
Don’t get me wrong: I personally think any ball thrown chest high has no place in the game and the gloves should come off once any pitch nears the head.
 
In saying that, bean balls are a part of the game, as Cole Hamels showed Sunday night. As a result of his actions, Hamels was suspended Monday for five games.

Philly2Philly breaks down the pros and cons of keeping it real- the Cole Hamels Edition.

Pros: Make no mistake, as a Phillies fan, I loved seeing Hamels take matters into his own hands in regards to how Washington was smacking his team around the first two games of the series. Somebody had to, because frankly, it didn’t seem like anyone on the Phillies really cared about stepping up and doing it themselves. Nats’ shortstop Ian Desmond made an observation that the Phillies don’t normally step up their game when playing the Nationals, and he may be right.

Much like the Phightins circa 2005-2007, this Nats team seems hungry, driven, and determined in the young 2012 season. For the Phillies, they know by now that all that matters is the playoffs. They’ve won more games than anyone in baseball the last two seasons and came away with nothing. Still, they have pride, and Hamels wanted to make damn sure of that, and who better to make an example of than baseball’s current golden boy?


Cons: When Hamels is that forthcoming about what he set out to do, there’s no way Major League Baseball wouldn’t suspend him for plunking Harper. Personally, actions speak louder than words, and it seemed Hamels did enough in regards to his actions Sunday night without having to. With the exception of never once complaining about the lack of run support the Phillies give him while on the mound, Hamels isn’t normally one to curb his thoughts (see 2009 World Series). Now granted, Philly fans have wanted to see a ‘gutsier’ side of Hamels for a long time, but there is a fine line.

Instead of doing what he did and moving on, Hamels proceeded to brag about what he did and it cost him a start. Did you ever get away with doing something as a kid, but then you got caught anyway because your mom heard you bragging about it to your friends? Exactly. Moreover, with the way the Phillies have been playing, can they really afford to have their best starter miss a turn in the rotation? Whether Jordan Zimmermann lied after the game or not as to whether he intentionally hit Hamels, he didn’t have to say a word either way. He was protecting Harper and everybody knew it.  

To Harper’s credit, he didn’t pop off, charge the mound, or talk trash on Hamels afterwards. Instead, he stole home that same inning and later got two hits off Hamels. Yes, ESPN is already helping Cooperstown make Harper’s Hall of Fame plaque. It’s a little much and is most likely drawing the ire of opposing teams, but Harper seems to be a student of the game as well as grasp certain aspects of the national pastime. This makes me wonder if Hamels, while trying to make a statement, really ‘taught’ him anything in the long run. If you want to be “old school,” just be “old school.” You don’t have to tell everyone what you’re trying to be.


Bottom Line:

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo called Hamels’ actions towards Harper “classless” and “gutless.”  Rizzo goes on to say that “No one has ever accused Cole Hamels of being old school."  While this is pretty much true and you can see why Rizzo could be perturbed, his choice of words are kind of ironic, considering the whole mantra of last weekend in Washington was to take back their park (ie ‘Natitude’) that they’ve never had control over. You know, the park that tries to prevent us Philly fans from coming down to fill your seats.  Remember the words of Nats COO Andy Feffer: back in February? “Forget you, Philly. This is our park, this is our town, these are our fans, and it’s our time right now.”

-I have never seen a franchise that has one .500 season (and that was their first year in existence!) who has talked this much smack and accomplished so little as of this writing than the Nationals. Their staff has done a phenomenal job of selecting great draft picks because their team has stunk for so long. Talk about classless and gutless- and I’m not even talking about the players (well, maybe Jayson Werth as far as classless goes).

-Chances are the Nationals are going to be a force to be reckoned with for years sooner than later. We get that. We’ll probably be watching them on tv come playoff time sooner than later. We get that too, but at least have another winning season before you brag about how great you are and how you’re going to take your park back. By the way, tickets were still available for all three games last weekend’s series. For a prospect as highly touted as Harper, the attendance for his first three home games was 22,675, 16,274 and 19,656.  A fact that’s not lost upon the players themselves.

-Regardless of whether Hamels stays in Philly or not after 2012 (for the record, I think he’s leaving), he’s done one more thing to etch his name into Phillies folklore. With that game being nationally televised however, chances are there were lots of teams that could be inquiring about his services watching this game. How will they react to this? Will they admire Hamels’ for taking charge and trying to send a message? or will they err on the side of the Nationals? It might mean nothing when it comes down to it, but you never know.

- If the Phillies’ decline this year is permanent, and the Nationals go on to bigger and better things come October, how crazy would it be if Hamels’ bean of Harper was considered a possible turning point in the history of their franchise?

No matter what it was, I think it's safe to say the rivalry between these two teams is officially on.

We shall see.......

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Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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