Bryce Harper arrived in the Show like none before him. and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels decided to remind him of his surroundings by plunking him square in the back.
Hamels admitted to doing it in the name of old-school baseball and then got suspended for five games.
Harper’s response was to quietly go to first base and later in the inning steal home. Whatever Frank Robinson was doing at the time, he was doing it with a smile. Harper responding on the bases rather than charging the mound was true old-school baseball.
The best we can figure, Hamels’ message was that Harper has been a bit cocky and needed to be told that he’s a rookie and should remember his place. While Harper has had a few incidents that certainly were very typical of an 18-year-old idiot, he’s been pretty good lately, and certainly since his arrival with the Washington Nationals.
We first met Harper on the cover of Sports Illustrated when he was 16 years old. He reportedly hit a home run of 570 feet that year. He left high school after 10th grade to enroll in a junior college, allowing him to enter the major league draft a year early.
That season in junior college saw him almost triple the school’s previous home-run record of 12 by hitting 31.Yeah, good luck getting my head in the clubhouse door with that resume.
Hamels explained his plunking of Harper via 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.”
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo responded on The Washington Post:
“I’ve never seen a more classless, chicken (bleep) act in my 30 years in baseball,” Rizzo said, according to the Post report. “with all the bounty (stuff) going on in professional football, the commissioner better act with a purpose on this thing.”
My guess is that Rizzo isn’t happy with the strength of the purpose with which MLB acted in suspending Hamels for five games. With some juggling of the rotation, Hamels won’t miss a start.
“Make rookies earn the right, but I don’t know what the message was. How selfish was that of a player? Who are you to send the message?”
“I never threw at a guy for being a rookie. That’s just so stupid. It’s like throwing at a guy for hitting a home run when you threw a crappy pitch. You throw at guys for specific things.”
Let’s do this in chronological order.
Hamels decides to plunk Harper for no apparent reason, other than Harper is a rookie and Hamels wanted to remind him of that. There was no specific incident that triggered this.
If we reach, we might say that Hamels is sending a message to Harper about his previous immature acts. That’s a stretch. As Schilling said, who is Hamels to send that message?
The interesting thing about the young, brash Harper is that he went decidedly old school in his reaction to being hit. He dropped the bat and quietly went to first. He then took his opportunity to steal home. That’s a mature, old-school way to handle it. Kudos to Bryce.
It’s been 24 hours, so my guess is that this is just about over, as some other shiny story will catch our eyes and distract us from this one. That’s okay with me. I’ve had enough of this one and need new, shiny stories all the time.