Philadelphia Phillies Make the Right Move with Cole Hamels
3:00 a.m. means many things to different people.
As a kid, 3:00 a.m. was a finish line, a goal to reach at sleepovers after enough junk food and R rated movies my friends and I weren't supposed to be watching.
When I saw 3:00 a.m. in college it meant that the bars were closed, it was probably time to call it a night and the odds of me staying awake during my 8:30 class were pretty slim.
And now that I am on the back-end of my twenties with a full-time job, 3:00 a.m. means a groan, a trip to the kitchen for a glass of water and some quick subtraction to figure out how long I have before the alarm goes off.
That's exactly that happened on Wednesday morning, and I was in the midst of doing that alarm clock math when as a force of habit I took a look at my Twitter feed.
Suddenly I was wide awake.
In one tweet, and one decision by the Phillies, Cole Hamels was just awarded the second-biggest contract ever handed out to a pitcher, and virtually guarantees that he will retire wearing red pinstripes.
Once the laughing stock of baseball, the "Phightins' have suddenly become the Yankees of the National League. Making it rain like Pac-Man Jones in his prime, the Phillies are now the first team in history to have three players on the roster making more than $20 million.
In this case, and considering I'm not footing bill, the money doesn't matter. This contract is about a team, not just in name but in experience. And it's about that team not conceding defeat even if they need a historic run to extend their postseason streak six years.
Call me a sap, but that matters.
When Hamels takes the mound for the next six seasons, I will obviously be rooting for him to win. But I will also be remembering the way he pitched in September of '07, or how he walked on water en route to winning both the NLCS and World Series MVPs in 2008.
I'll also remember the way he coasted through the 2009 season, had enough media appearances to make a Kardashian blush and melted down in the World Series during the biggest game of the season.
But I'll also remember the way he matured in 2010, and how he has become undoubtedly one of the best pitchers in baseball. So his contract is about more than just himself.
When a Phillies fan talks about the best players in team history, every memorable player can be summed up in one word or a nickname.
Michael Jack. Lefty. Whitey, Robin. Harry the K. Dutch. The Dude. Any Phillies fan keeps these players close to their heart, and now Hollywood joins the list.
His contract will get him paid, obviously, but despite putting himself in the list above, it also ties him in with Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and the other aces. (Cliff Lee and Doc Halladay) as the key figures in one of the greatest runs in National League history.
And that matters. It matters because Philly is maybe the most provincial city in the country. Ask Moses, Dr. J., Iverson, Cunningham, TO or McNabb. A player that spends his career in the city becomes immortal.
So, at 3:00 a.m. I wasn't thinking about Cole Hamels' contract, his age or his place in history.
I was thinking about this team, his team.
In six years, maybe I will be writing about the Phillies and their albatross of a contract owed to our ace, named Cole Hamels.
And if I am, I won't be very happy about it, but it will be nice to know that I spent the last decade rooting for a team, not a jersey.
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