Did Cole Hamels Just Save Baseball?

I don’t really know the answer to that question, this is just an attempt to figure it out.

I was thinking of writing this post (as well as many others that didn’t make it) but hesitated, until I saw that Hamels has been given a five game suspension, forcing the Phillies to re-work their rotation to give Hamels an extra day of rest. Not a terrible punishment, for something not very terrible: admitting that he threw at Nationals teen phenom Bryce Harper. Some people believe that this is a bad thing. Let me explain the other side of it….

1. Bryce Harper was not hurt, and it wasn’t likely that he would be. Many other players who have been hit were not hurt as well; I’ve never heard of any player suffering an injury because they were hit by a pitch. It may have happened, and I understand that it realistically can happen, but….i’ve never heard it happen before, so I don’t need people crying about Bryce getting hurt.

2. It is an in-game strategy. Just like putting on a hit-and-run, or stacking three infielders on one side of the diamond, you sometimes hit a player, and its purpose is mainly emotional. You can hit a guy instead of walking him if you want him away from the plate. There are many reasons to hit a guy that Cole Hamels didn’t care for, he only had one reason:

3. It sends a message. Sometimes a pitch will get away and hit someone. That happens. But when a pitcher hits a guy (it’s not hard to differentiate the two), it always hits with a message. Sometimes it’s “stop crowding the plate” or “I don’t like that your pitcher hit my player”. This time, it was obvious, and Werth even said it: “Welcome to the big leagues, rookie.”

He could have said “This isn’t your league, rookie” or “Remember, this is still my mound, rookie”. But he hit the kid with a little bit of respectful bullying. This kind of thing is what baseball seems to be losing, and what Cole Hamels seems to want to keep in the game.

It appears that the class system affects Major League Baseball. Some guys rise above it, but it’s not hard to believe that the higher-paid guys don’t hang out with the AAAA bench players, and that the highly-publicized players stand above those random fellas filling out rosters. A young guy like Harper represents a new generation of swag-happy ballplayers that could soon be dominating the Major Leagues. To hit the guy, and get the attention that this silliness has garnered, sends a message: “This is the major leagues, no matter who you are.” It’s a simple initiation, and a quick reminder that you are in a whole new ballgame.

Of course, Bryce then made it third and stole home. So maybe the swag is here to stay.


About jgweiss

Trying to find a job, trying to start a blog.
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3 Responses to Did Cole Hamels Just Save Baseball?

  1. Harris says:

    What if that ball slipped and was two feet higher and hit Harper in the head? Would that have saved baseball? Whenever there is INTENT to hurt/injure which is a very fine line in all sports, action must be taken and that can not be good for the sport. The Shanahan game is not working and he is even realizing that, intent has to be taken out of sports, not injuries. Intentionally throwing at someone should never be ok. If that ball was a few feet higher and yes pitchers miss their target, that would be an initiation and ending all at once for Harper

    • jgweiss says:

      The intent was there, but it was not to hurt Bryce, it was to hit him in the back/butt. A pitcher who has been in the league for 5 years, and has won a World Series MVP can of course let a pitch get away, but when he’s throwing at a guy with specific intent to hit him, he isn’t trying throw his hardest. I agree that the risk of head injury is there, but it is likely less than it is when a pitcher is just trying to jam a guy inside.

      • Harris says:

        I get that argument that there was no injury and just about no chance of one. But, there was intent. If you allow the most dangerous plays in a sport to intentionally happen, it can lead to a big problem, Hockey = hits to the head, Football = same/leading with the head, Basketball = hard INTENTIONAL fouls when driving to the basket, Baseball = throwing at someone. Those are the most dangerous plays in those sports, and all of them are trying their hardest to eliminate them from the sport because there is INTENT in all of them. You can hit somebody in the head in hockey/football without intent and you hate seeing that but it happens. When there is clear, never mine spoken intent, Harrison in football, Giroux in hockey, it must be eliminated from the game from fear of escalation and potential injury. Zubrus was not injured but could have been. Same with Bryce. Intent is what must leave, not injuries.

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