It was a tough day for Philly sports stars Monday: first Flyers leading scorer Claude Giroux was suspended for a playoff game and then Phillies ace Cole Hamels got a five-game ban for plunking Bryce Harper Sunday night.
The suspension -- which basically means he will miss his next start -- came after a long day of fans and analysts battling over whether the lefty deserved to be punished for making a statement. Nats GM Mike Rizzo even chimed in by calling Hamels "classless, gutless."
Part of Hamels’ problem was that he admitted intentionally plunking Harper square in the lower back during the first inning of the Phillies' 9-3 win over the Nats. The Nationals retaliated in the bottom of the third by hitting Hamels in the legs.
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That should have been it, but Hamels opened up after the game saying that he hit the rookie phenom because he was "just trying to continue old baseball... But I think unfortunately the league's protecting certain players and making it not that old-school, prestigious way of baseball."
Well it seem the folks in Bud Selig's office are protecting Harper and any other possible future superstars by telling veteran pitchers that it’s wrong to intentionally plunk someone to show who’s boss.
Personally I completely disagree with the suspension. The situation policed itself. Hamels was honest after the game and it's not like he threw at Harper's head. If he would have lied and just said the ball got away from him and that the Nats were wrong to hit him this suspension likely wouldn't have happened.
We should want our public figures telling the truth -- baseball's punishment for it is nothing short of disappointing.
Missing Hamels for his scheduled start Saturday isn’t a big deal really because he should be back in time to pitch Sunday against the nine-win Padres instead.
Seriously, the move might actually help the Phillies. With Roy Halladay pitching Monday and with an off day looming Thursday, Doc could pitch Saturday with Hamels to follow Sunday. The rotation would then mix nicely righty (Halladay), lefty (Hamels), righty (Joe Blanton), lefty (Cliff Lee), righty (Vance Worley). And, with Lee back, if they don't want anyone to work on short rest they can just have Kyle Kendrick -- who has filled in for Lee anyway -- pitch Saturday with Hamels to follow Sunday and the rest of the rotation to flow in accordingly.