I swear, this is my last entry on the Cole Hamels/Bryce Harper plunking and subsequent stealing of home.
Well, that is until someone else steps in and tosses more fuel on the fire and makes this an even bigger deal. Hey, it could happen.
This story has taken on a life of its own over the last 14 hours or so, after Hamels admitted that he hit Harper on purpose because he wanted to carry on the “old school” way of handling things and then Nationals GM Mike Rizzo called out Hamels, telling the Washington Post that Hamels is - among other things - “gutless” and “fake-tough.”
Phillies reliever Chad Qualls subsequently got into the mix, responding to a post on Twitter by writing: “they hit cole right back but said not on purpose. Yeah right. At least cole was a man and didn’t lie about it.”
Remarkably in all of this, the 19-year-old with an “attitude problem” and “maturity issues” is the one coming out looking clean. Harper said and did all the right things here when there were so many opportunities for him not to and when people all around him are the ones speaking out and making headlines.
Imagine how the baseball world would have reacted if Harper had pointed at Hamels and started yelling after getting drilled in the back, something which you see happen all the time in the majors when a hitter feels he’s been hit intentionally.
Imagine the news coverage today if Harper had charged the mound. That would have been an old school way of dealing with things, but it also would have made the A-block of every sportscast in the country.
Instead, Harper let his play speak for him. As I wrote yesterday during the game, he retaliated on Hamels himself with his aggressive play, and that alone.
For what it’s worth, I still don’t understand Hamels’ motivation for hitting Harper in the first place. The rookie had done absolutely nothing in the first two games of the series (or his prior five major league games, for that matter) to show anyone up or step outside the level of respectable play.
Did Hamels single out Harper because he’s young? Because of all the hype around him?
Hamels said it was a “welcome to the big leagues” message. Isn’t that usually just a pitch high and tight to wake a rookie up and set him up for later in the at-bat? Then the guy has to go about earning his way on base instead of being handed a freebee.
Harper didn’t get why he’d been drilled, either. But instead of reacting to the plunking in a way many players would have, the youngest guy in the majors by a full year took the hit by pitch, brushed it off, stole home and then complimented Hamels up and down after the game.
Says a lot about the guy, if you ask me.