I still can't believe it. Premeditated, unwarranted, just disgusting. For those of you who haven't heard, Cole Hamels recently launched a harpoon from the pitcher's mound at rookie sensation Bryce Harper, piercing the slugger's right shoulder and placing him on the DL indefinitely. The wound will likely keep Harper out for the rest of the season and sources are saying his future in baseball may be in jeopardy.
In light of the incident, Hamels has been reviled by both local and national media for such a reckless act of cowardice, and rightfully so - there is no place for such violence in Major League Baseb...
Wait, what? You're saying Hamels just hit Harper with a pitch? Well still, it was probably gruesome. You heard what he said, there was clear intent - where'd he hit him, in the head? See, that's what I thou- wait, in the back??? Hm - but I mean, it knocked him out of the game, right? I'm sure he was real banged up, no way he stayed in the game and felt healthy enough to steal home just minutes later, that obviously goes without saying.
Having worn out my use of the sarcasm font, I'll cut to the chase: the entire Hamels-Hits-Harper situation has been blown way out of proportion. It's baseball - pitchers occasionally throw at batters, it's part of the game. Hamels, for whatever reason, wanted to knock the 19-year old off his high horse. Perhaps he was annoyed with the praise and attention the young player has attracted since his call-up, or maybe he took offense to Harper's blowing a celebratory kiss at an opposing pitcher after a home run last summer - whatever it was, he decided to send a message, and that message was delivered right between the 3 and the 4 on Harper's back, right where any coach tells his pitcher to hit a guy. No intent to injure, nothing scary - simply put, and I quote Hamels: "Welcome to the Big Leagues."
And that's where the problem started. There was no issue when Hamels hit Harper - sure you could claim it was intentional, but that was mere speculation. The situation escalated only when Hamels admitted to doing it intentionally. And why was he asked the question in the first place? Because it was Bryce Harper.
Had the target of his intentional bean-ball been anyone else, Hamels never faces that question in the first place, and thus, never admits his intent. But since the HBP victim just happened to be the rising face of America's Pastime, a reporter ask Cole's intent, and Hamels, perhaps himself caught up in the Harper media storm, is feeling big and decides to admit what we all already knew. "Welcome to the Big Leagues."
He broke the code of the unspoken truth. "That one got away from me." "You never want to put a runner like that on base." "I just missed my spot inside." These would have all sufficed as acceptable generic answers from the school of Belichick. Hey Bill, are you going light in practice this week since your opponent is 0-15? -- "They're a really good football team. We're preparing like we would any other week knowing this is going to be a tough game." It's that easy. No more questions. But no - Cole came clean, and the baseball world is downright indignant, painting Hamels as a villain and tying the league's hands when it came to suspension.
And it all could have been avoided. What Cole did on the baseball field is nothing out of the ordinary, but it was his handling of the situation that sent writers everywhere into a state of fabricated shock. Whether or not his motive is valid is a separate argument, but when it comes to plunking guys, the lefty's execution was exemplary. Now if only his post-game interview discretion were as sharp, he wouldn't be missing his next start.
As for Harper, the bar has officially been set for media coverage of his many "firsts," and all this for a measly hit-by-pitch. I assume the attention his first home run garners will be enough to lure a jealous Brett Favre out of retirement.
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