Six years ago, it would have been a ridiculous question. Now it must be asked: Is Cole Hamels a soft player?
Since his heroic performance for the Phillies in the 2008 World Series – for which he was awarded the MVP – Hamels has become an enigma. And the evidence is mounting that the tiger on the mound back then has become a pussycat.
Just consider his many tribulations since the start of training camp this year. First, he said he couldn’t be ready for the season opener because of bicep tendonitis, even though he had a full month to prepare. Then he experienced a setback, which led to more public emoting. Now, apparently, he can’t pitch when the weather turns cold or wet.
Last Tuesday night, Hamels melted in the rain as the Phillies lost to the Mets at an empty Citizens Bank Park. The ace pitcher walked five batters – four in one inning – hit another and threw a wild pitch in a dreadful 6-1 defeat. After the game, Hamels questioned his own ability to adjust to adverse conditions.
“Sometimes when you pitch, you have to battle the elements, and the elements definitely got the best of me today,” said Hamels. “It led to a very poor performance. I’m truly embarrassed.”
Hamels has not shown the same heart since his 2008 brilliance. Remember, the next season – which ended in failure for him and the Phillies at the World Series – he said at one point that he just wanted the season to be over, to end his own personal misery.
Cole Hamels gave Philadelphia a gift that will be cherished forever, a championship. There will be no hope for another, however, until he rediscovers the spirit of a champion.
Flyers Chairman Snider overrates his own team
Flyers chairman Ed Snider gave his team a grade of B last week after they were ousted in the first round of the playoffs, the 39th straight time they have failed to win a Stanley Cup. Sixers owner Joshua Harris proclaimed recently that his 19-63 season was “a huge success.” Have the people running our winter sports franchises lost their minds?
A master at self-delusion, Snider said he was not satisfied with the Flyers rebounding from a 1-7 start to make the post-season. Then he boasted that they had the goalie of the future (Steve Mason), a core of young “Stanley-Cup-type” players and, of course, captain Claude Giroux. Nope, he’s not satisfied at all.
What Snider actually has is an overrated captain and a roster filled with bloated contracts. His GM, Paul Holmgren, has been in the position for eight years, despite negotiating one bad deal after another. They are going nowhere.
Our other winter team is filled with the promise of a new direction, but also the possibility of a spectacular failure. Sam Hinkie, the architect of the reconstruction, has no track record and an aversion to people. Harris himself is a tremendous businessman with no idea how to run a sports franchise – or how to characterize a 19-63 season.
It’s time Harris and Snider both come to grips with reality. They are running franchises in a demanding sports city, charging hundreds of dollars for tickets to their games, and hawking jerseys and hats and anything else that can carry a bloated price tag.
This is Philadelphia, not Podunk. In Philadelphia, you don’t get to pat yourself on the back until you earn it. And the Flyers and Sixers definitely have not earned it.