Cole Hamels is a two-time All-Star, a World Series M.V.P. and generally considered one of the best hurlers in the game at the age of 28. He’s in his prime, he’s won Pennants and World Championships, and is currently leading the National League in strikeouts. So what could he possibly have to prove to a 19-year-old kid?
Apparently, there was some sort of message he wanted to send Bryce Harper. On his first-ever pitch facing the rookie, he plunked him in the back with a fastball. Following the game he said that he did it on purpose, he said that he was sending a message. Here’s what he told the Philadelphia Inquirer:
“I was trying to hit him. I’m not going to deny it. It’s something I grew up watching. That’s what happened. I’m just trying to continue the old baseball. Some people get away from it. I remember when I was a rookie, the strike zone was really, really small and you didn’t say anything. That’s the way baseball is. Sometimes the league is protecting certain players. It’s that old-school prestigious way of baseball.”
Cole Hamels is upset that Bryce Harper draws walks, apparently. So what does he do? Put him on base, of course. While Hamels ultimately got the win, it was clear that Harper really made the bigger point here. After getting plunked by the “bully” he went first to third on a single to left field. Then he stole home when Hamels threw a pointless pick off attempt over to first base. Harper picked up two hits on the left-hander over the course of the rest of the game. Message received.
Hamels actions and his words are pretty symbolic of the overall Phillies vs. Nationals dynamic these days. The Phillies are very possibly on their way out. Their talent base is aging, their payroll is growing, and they entered Sunday in last place in the N.L. East. The Nationals on the other hand are surging. They have great young players signed to great contracts, and they just threw a festival designed to stick it to Philadelphia. Hamels wanted to put Harper in his place, but he also wanted to send a sad feeble message to Washington that they should know their place too.
Washington, just like Harper, had the last laugh this weekend. While they lost Sunday they won the series and the D.C. fan base made the most noise. It’s sad when giants fall, but it’s worse when they make a pathetic scene on their way out.