When you look up “bad boy” in the dictionary, Cole Hamels’ face is not the first thing you expect to see.
So it’s a surprise, then, that the Phillies golden-boy pitched admitted this morning that his Sunday night beaning of Nationals phenom Bryce Harper was intentional.
From the Washington Post:
“I was trying to hit him,” Hamels said. “I’m not going to deny it. That’s just — you know what, it’s something that I grew up watching, that’s what happened, so I’m just trying to continue the old baseball — I think some people kind of get away from it. I remember when I was a rookie the strike zone was really, really small and you didn’t say anything just because that’s the way baseball is. Sometimes the league is protecting certain players and making it not that old-school, prestigious way of baseball.”
So, to reiterate, because the league is “protecting” certain players, it is OK to hit them with pitches. Well, not according to Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, who called Hamels “gutless” and “classless.”
“Cole Hamels says he’s old school?” Rizzo told The Post. “He’s the polar opposite of old school. He’s fake tough. He thinks he’s going to intimidate us after hitting our 19-year-old rookie who’s eight games into the big leagues? He doesn’t know who he’s dealing with.”
Hamels was hit by a pitch from the Nats’ Jordan Zimmerman later in the game, but Zimmerman insisted he was not out for retaliation. The Post indulged in a little Kremlinology, and determined Zimmerman was telling the truth:
Hamels was trying to sacrifice bunt with a man on first. Typically, intentional beanings don’t come when you can put a man into scoring position. Zimmermann hit Hamels in the leg, and it’s common for pitchers to try to make a bunting pitcher move their feet. If Zimmermann wanted to retaliate, he would have made the message more clear by hitting Hamels higher up. Finally, the proper retaliation probably would have been to hit Shane Victorino, the Phillies’ No. 3 hitter.
Still, though, by all accounts it seems like the Phillies, starting with Hamels, are starting to take the Nationals seriously as rivals. Do the aging Phils have what it takes to compete with the young Nats for the future of the NL East?