Hamels planted a low-90s fastball in the small of Harper's back in the first inning of Sunday night's game. Harper shook off the beam ball and made his way down to first base without a fuss, before later stealing home to score the first run of the contest.
Harper—a 19-year-old kid who's widely referred to as a "phenom"—has had pretty good success in his first eight games in the major leagues, hitting .308 with three RBI and displaying extraordinary hustle in the field and on the base paths.
But Hamels felt like he needed to welcome the kid to the big leagues formally. After the game, Hamels told an Associated Press reporter:
“I was trying to hit him. I'm not going to deny it. That's something I grew up watching, that's kind of what happened. So I'm just trying to continue the old baseball because I think some people are kind of getting away from it. I remember when I was a rookie the strike zone was really, really small and you didn't say anything because that's the way baseball is. It's just, 'Welcome to the big leagues.' "
Harper didn't have much to say about being hit by Hamels, possibly letting his play and the fact that he stole home after he was plunked speak for itself.
“Hamels threw a great game tonight,” Harper said.
Although Harper took the high road, Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo wasn't so kind. Speaking to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, Rizzo said:
"I've never seen a more classless, gutless chicken (bleep) act in my 30 years in baseball. Cole Hamels says he's old school? He's the polar opposite of old school. He's fake tough. He thinks he's going to intimidate us after hitting our 19-year-old rookie who's eight games into the big leagues? He doesn't know who he's dealing with."
And Rizzo continued in his rant against the Phillies' pitcher:
"He thinks he's sending a message to us of being a tough guy. He's sending the polar opposite message. He says he's being honest, well, I'm being honest. It was a gutless chicken (bleep-bleeping) act. That was a fake-tough act. No one has ever accused Cole Hamels of being old school."
Gutless or not, the Phillies thought they got the last laugh with a 9-3 win over the Nats, but then, the five-game suspension and fine came down from the league to Hamels.
However, the suspension appears to more or less delay the start for Hamels than cause him to miss it. Hamels will miss his next start, but since the Phillies have a day off, Roy Halladay is able to make two starts on regular rest, which will just push Hamels' start back a day.
At the end of the day, the last laugh appears to go to the Phillies.