Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cole Hamels Proves that Baseball Sucks

Yesterday, Major League Baseball announced a 5-game suspension for Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels as punishment for intentionally throwing at Washington Nationals rookie outfielder Bryce Harper.

The beaning occurred on Sunday, so after the past 2 days, this is old news. But forgive me for saying it again:

Cole Hamels INTENTIONALLY threw a 5-ounce object with a hard rubber center 93 miles per hour at Bryce Harper. That's called assault and battery. (In D.C., the lowest degree of the offense, "simple assault," would result in Hamels facing up to 6 months in prison.) But since in occurred within the confines of a MLB stadium, then the going rate is 1 missed start and about 500 large in penalties.

Now if 2 days transpiring between the play and this post makes it old news, I guess the weeks-old story of NFL players and coaches being suspended for much larger amounts of time has escaped our subconscious.
"I was trying to hit him. I'm not going to deny it. [...] They're probably not going to like me for it, but I'm not going to say that I wasn't trying to do it. I think they understood the message."
"We've got to do everything in the world to kill Frank Gore's head. We want him running sideways. We want his head sideways."
-former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams
The NFL has long been a sport that has sanctioned violence. And regardless of the fact that they have been snail-slow at making necessary changes to a sport that obliterates its' employees' quality of life, the harsh suspensions of Williams and Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, among others, were met with approval from the vast majority of fans, save for those in the Bayou. Take away the bounty program, rich with "intent," and the sport is still violent enough to hand down suspensions and fines for what used to be legal hits. Insert the bounty program, and the sport becomes a forbidden sanctuary for anybody's future children. (Your choice if you want to have your kid end up like Junior Seau.)

Baseball is different. Players oftentimes play well into their late 30s and early 40s because physical contact with another human being is rare. Players actually go on to the disabled list for being sad. But just because the guys on the diamond don't regularly produce violent acts, all in the name of competition, doesn't mean that this should be swept under the rug.

Hamels exhibited decent control of his 93 mph fastball, drilling his intended victim in the small of the back. But last time I checked, even the best location masters on the mound can throw a wild pitch or two at any given moment. Maybe the ball slips, maybe it's a little wet from some raindrops, or maybe the pitcher's delivery breaks its mechanics. If Hamels didn't have control of that fastball, what happens if Harper gets drilled in the head? What happens if Harper takes it in the eyes? Surely, the only guarantee in that scenario would be Hamels keeping his mouth shut.

And don't give me any of that noise about Hamels being a man's man. I'm taking sides with Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, who called Hamels "fake tough." For instance, take a look at this A-Rod-esque photo:

If you're a purist, and you subscribe to the notion that the Nationals let "baseball take care of it" by plunking Hamels in retaliation, then you're crazy. Hammurabi's Code expired in our laws long, long ago. It has no place in baseball, or anywhere else.

Neither does intentional violence. Cole Hamels admitted that he knew what he was doing, so we can safely assume that he believed that the punishment was worth the crime of "welcoming" Harper to the big leagues. Outside of sports arenas, crime is deterred by the potential imposition of harsh consequences. Major League Baseball had an opportunity to send a message, to agree with Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro that this type of stuff doesn't belong in the sport.

Instead, Hamels will pitch this Sunday.



  1. Not a big Selig fan but MLBPA would have appealed a harsher penalty, and Hamels probably would have won.

    1. I completely agree with you there. The history is on Hamels' side. But it's just unfortunate that this still happens.

  2. No where in your post did you mention that Jordan Zimmerman threw at Hamels in his next plate appearance. And Zimmerman threw at Cole's knees, not his back. Ken Rosenthal disagrees with your assessment. http://msn.foxsports.com/topics/m/video/56015676/rosenthal-rizzo-overreacts.htm#

    1. "If you're a purist, and you subscribe to the notion that the Nationals let "baseball take care of it" by plunking Hamels in retaliation, then you're crazy."

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    3. I find that I disagree with Ken Rosenthal more often than not.

      Older players are coming out against Hamels (Ripken, Schilling, etc.) who is clearly a punk.

      As for the back vs the knees, there's no vital organs in the knees but the kidneys are awfully close the the lower back. Besides, Hamels was bunting so down around the knees was the safest place to aim for.