Cole Hamels threw a 93-mph fastball that hit Bryce Harper in the first inning of last night’s game in Washington. Following the showdown, rather than professing the usual laughable innocence that typically comes with a plunking, Hamels was thoroughly honest:
“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.”
Good for Hamels. It’s rare to read such a forthcoming quote, and it’s certainly fun to see some “old time baseball.” If Reggie Dunlop were still around and managed to get his hands on that quote, I have no doubt the old man would stand and applaud, and then check the living hell of the first person he could get his hands on.
Some members of the Nationals disagreed with Hamels and felt that the beaning was the Phillies way of recognizing their sudden presence in the NL East, something that has never existed in the past. But I don’t buy it. I see a 19-year-old rookie playing baseball with dizzying flair, and some cranky veterans getting irked by what they see. Nothing more, nothing less. Remember when Buck Showalter got mad that Ken Griffey Jr. wore his hat backwards during batting practice at Yankee Stadium? It’s a similar situation, and much like that one, it will pass.
The beauty of the beanball was Harper’s response of stealing home in the same inning. If that isn’t the most magnificent, ballsy counter-punch to being hit by a pitcher, I will gladly sew my head to the carpet for the remainder of the day. What a player, and a what a tremendous way to begin a fun new rivalry.
Here’s the aforementioned moment where Bryce brought the grapefruits. Better watch it soon, MLB vultures will be scrubbing it from existence in less than five minutes, if they haven’t already: