McGILLIGAN: Cole Hamels is a 28-year-old major league pitcher.
Bryce Harper is a 19-year-old up-and-coming player.
That’s where this story should have ended. Unfortunately it didn’t. We ended up watching the 28-year-old act much less mature than the 19-year-old and chalking it up to some ridiculous baseball code.
Hamels admitted to intentionally beaning Harper in the first inning of the Philadelphia Phillies 9-3 win Sunday against the Washington Nationals.
Here’s what Hamels said about the incident to the Associated Press:
“That’s something I grew up watching, that’s kind of what happened, so I’m just trying to continue the old baseball because I think some people are kind of getting away from it. I remember when I was a rookie the strike zone was really, really small and you didn’t say anything because that’s the way baseball is. But I think unfortunately the league’s protecting certain players and making it not that old-school, prestigious way of baseball.”
Hamels is wrong, in my opinion, for a number of reasons.
You want to make a point to a rookie? Strike him out. Don’t throw at him and pretend you’re protecting the reputation of the game – you’re not. The fact that Harper stole home that same inning is priceless. Do pitchers like it when a kid comes to the big leagues, has immediate success and is excited about it? No, but it doesn’t mean you intentionally throw at some one.
And don’t hide behind some ancient code. If that pitch slipped a bit out of Hamels hand and hit Harper in the head causing a concussion, we’re having a very different conversation and I bet Hamels doesn’t admit to it.
As for the conspiracy theory of the league protecting certain players, that doesn’t even make sense. How is the league protecting Harper? He’s a 19-year-old kid facing major league pitching; the fact that he’s handling it like a veteran is a testament to his skills and quick development.
Did the league tell other pitchers to groove fastballs to Harper or instruct umpires to adjust their strike zones for him? I’m sure MLB did not.
So if Hamels wants to be old school and protect the prestigious way of baseball, here’s my suggestion: Shut up and play.
LIVINGSTONE note: As I posted this piece, Hamels was handed down a five game suspension for intentionally throwing at Harper. In my own words: Good. What an idiot.