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Comment of the Day: If you’re gonna be Old School, be Old School

May 7, 2012, 10:30 AM EDT

hamels wide ap AP

The Hamels stuff has been fun today.  The upshot, based on the comments: I’m a big wimp who never played baseball and I hate the Phillies and I should stop whining and Zimmerman did it too.  Which is what I expected.  I’m a big boy and can handle it.  Of course I still haven’t seen any of the many Phillies fans in that thread say that they would take it with serene equanimity if someone intentionally threw at Ryan Howard, but why ask for miracles?

There have been some thought-provoking comments, however, including this one from commenter danandcasey, which gets at the idea that what Hamels was doing in throwing at Harper was upholding an ancient baseball ritual or Old School Code or something:

One thing – neither Drysdale nor Gibson would have mentioned it to the press after the game. If Cole wants to be Old School, he needs to keep his mouth shut.

It’s an interesting point.  Not one I have a ton of buy-in to because I don’t think that referencing guys like Drysdale and Gibson throwing at batters is a satisfying defense (yes, they were wrong to do it too).  But I obviously don’t hold the majority view there.  To the extent there is a deep defense of Hamels here, it’s that he was acting in a grand baseball tradition.

But it is an open question as to whether he was even adhering to that tradition when he yapped about it afterwards.  Again, I don’t care one way or the other because it’s the act of throwing at the hitter, not talking about it, that I think is wrong here.  But isn’t it the case that, if you’re gonna play Old School you REALLY gotta play old school and play the “musta got away from me” card?

In not doing so, it’s almoslt like Hamels wanted to make damn sure that everyone knew he was acting Old School.  Which, when you think about it, really isn’t an Old School kind of thing to do, is it?

  1. stlouis1baseball - May 7, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    I respect Hamels for admitting it was intentional. I also agree with your last two sentences Craig.
    He should have probably just taken the ole’ “it must have got away from me” angle when asked about it. But I do respect him for being honest. In this case…it probably wasn’t the best policy however.

    • danaking - May 7, 2012 at 11:56 AM

      Hamels missed the easy answer. I wanted to move him off the plate and got it too far in. This would have been nicer had it been true–throwing inside and throwing at someone are far different things–but he could have made his point and grabbed a fig leaf at the same time.

      • wendell7 - May 7, 2012 at 1:58 PM

        Cole Hamels is about as “Old-School” as Justin Bieber

  2. jimbo1949 - May 7, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    Would you like some butter flavored topping on your tub of popcorn?

  3. thomas2727 - May 7, 2012 at 10:41 AM

    I have yet to hear a good reason from Hamels as to why he hit Harper. If it was for intimidation it failed.

    • b7p19 - May 7, 2012 at 10:47 AM

      Thats what confuses me with all of this too. Did he hit him simply because he thinks he’s a punk? Because that would just make Hamels the punk here. Just a very strange thing to do.

      My overthinking sportswriter moment of the day brought this thought to my head:

      MLB office asked Hamels to hit Harper intentionally to help boost what could be a great rivalry bewteen the Nats and Phils in the future. That clearly is a conspiracy theory, but i’m going to run with anyway because it’s fun.

      • badmamainphilliesjamas - May 7, 2012 at 10:55 AM

        Nah . . . it was the National’s marketing department.

    • sneschalmers - May 7, 2012 at 11:10 AM

      This was the first thing I asked when it happened. Did Harper do something to piss Cole off? I know Harper has a reputation as being a diva (e.g. blowing kisses after hitting a home run), but just because someone’s a douche in general doesn’t mean you need to hit him. Especially given the Phillies’ offensive struggles this year.

    • stabonerichard - May 7, 2012 at 11:48 AM

      It’s no secret that Bryce is a brash young fella, and he’s already rubbed people the wrong way… whether direct or indirect. So with last night’s incident it seems to me Hamels decided he’d be the guy to go ahead and plunk him, to send the rook a message. Obviously there’s not a good reason for it, but I think Cole figured it would gain him some cred. First with his teammates, and then with the rest of the baseball community since he was anxious to let everyone know, “yep, it was intentional.”

      But I’m not sure it will pan out that way for Mr. Hamel. Phillies fans got a kick out of it but, well, they’re Philadelphia fans. The rest of the baseball community, by & large, I think views it as either a silly, unnecessary attempt at looking tough or much worse than that, which Rizzo described pretty well.

    • evanwins - May 7, 2012 at 5:12 PM

      That may have failed but his pitching last night seems to have been intimidation enough: 1 run on 5 hits in 8 innings with 7K’s (all swinging).

      If he hadn’t hit him it would’ve been a shutout.

      so there’s that.

      And did anyone see Harper drop the routine flyball later in the game?

      That and crying about being HBP is Natitude baby…


      • thomas2727 - May 7, 2012 at 6:20 PM

        I could almost get your argument until you called the ball Harper had to dive for a routine fly ball. Don’t let your bias cloud your argument. Fact is the Phillies are getting older and they have the look of an team that fears it may be losing it’s stranglehold on the NL East.

  4. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - May 7, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    Not one I have a ton of buy-in to because I don’t think that referencing guys like Drysdale and Gibson throwing at batters is a satisfying defense (yes, they were wrong to do it too)

    It’s also faulty because Gibson wasn’t the head hunter that everyone makes him out to be. For one, he’s tied for 76th all time in hit batters with 102. Guys with far better control have hit more batters, like Pedro (141), Moyer (145), and Maddux (137) all hit far more batters than Gibson did.

    Really wish that didn’t remove all of Joe Posnanski’s articles because there’s a great one where he interviews Gibson, and Gibson is obviously sad that all people seem to remember about him is how he hit people.

    • samu0034 - May 7, 2012 at 10:57 AM

      I tried finding a source for this quote, but alas…

      “I didn’t throw at men often, but when I did, I hit them.” -Bob Gibson

      So let’s not get all “Bob Gibson was a misunderstood saint” here. After all, we’re talking about a guy about whom Dusty Baker once said:

      “The only people I ever felt intimidated by in my whole life were Bob Gibson and my Daddy.”

      The guy was intimidating. He owned the plate. The whole thing. And he wasn’t afraid to plunk a guy if needs be to prove that point. And that’s a part of baseball I’m completely comfortable with.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - May 7, 2012 at 11:02 AM

        Dusty Baker also thinks having slow guys on base “clogs up the basepaths” and is bad for baseball. So he’s not exactly a shining beacon for intelligent thought.

      • samu0034 - May 7, 2012 at 11:10 AM

        Ah, yes, let us resort to ad hominem attacks. Clearly because Dusty isn’t the brightest bulb on the baseball tree, his personal opinion about who he was intimidated by is of suspect validity.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - May 7, 2012 at 11:25 AM

        Fine, it was a cheap shot. However, anecdote isn’t the plural of data, so just because Baker feels that way doesn’t mean it was universally true.


      • seeinred87 - May 7, 2012 at 12:44 PM

        One reason anecdote isn’t the plural of data is because data is already plural.

  5. okwhitefalcon - May 7, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    If you’re gonna drill a guy (especially for no reason, it’s not like the kid hit his first dinger and admired it for crissakes) then don’t admit it for cryin’ out loud.

    It was goofy to hit him in the first place and goofier to fess up to it.

    Not the brightest move for sure….

    • 1historian - May 9, 2012 at 10:32 PM

      don’t forget that you’re talking about a player from philly, where the standard of intellect is not high

  6. nonmendacium - May 7, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    you really should write about soccer instead.

  7. dennisund - May 7, 2012 at 10:59 AM

    Greg Maddux plunked more batters per season than Cole Hamels. Maddux was kind of known for his control. I guess Maddux is a full-on jerk.

    • stabonerichard - May 7, 2012 at 11:58 AM

      If we completely ignore the context in which events occur, you make a hell of a point there.

      • dennisund - May 7, 2012 at 1:59 PM

        I was referring to the context of MLB pitchers pitching to MLB batters during a MLB game. In which context is it acceptable? Only when accidental? Given Maddux’s pedigree and rampant leniancy from umpires giving him a foot off the plate, hitting batters at the rate he did is inexcusable and to claim they were all accidental is really a far cry from reality.

      • stabonerichard - May 7, 2012 at 2:47 PM

        I believe there *is* a valid place in the game (at the professional level) for batters being hit, depending on the specific circumstances. Which is why context is important.

        I believe it’s a valid part of protecting your teammates. If your players–particularly a star player who means so much to a team’s success–are being put at risk of injury by beanballs, there’s a way to handle that on the field. The MLB suits handing out a slap-on-the-wrist 5 game suspension (which only pushes a guy’s start back one freaking day) isn’t much help for a guy like Justin Upton who’s been drilled 20+ times since last season. You’ve gotta protect your own… but there are proper ways to do it that have been understood & respected throughout the game’s history.

        But unfortunately, we see it way too often nowadays where pitchers simply don’t know how to execute. When the situation presents itself, instead of drilling a guy in the ass (or otherwise below the waist), they come in high & tight or even airmail a pitch over a guy’s head. I don’t know if it’s due to lack of command, being too amped in the heat of the moment, or whatever combination thereof, but that’s what puts guys at serious risk of injury. I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise, as a large percentage of today’s pitchers don’t know how to pitch inside effectively in the first place.

        So anyway, of course not every one of Greg’s HBP was accidental. But Greg, to the best of my knowlege, never got himself caught up in chickenshit stuff like last night, throwing a fastball at a guy for no other reason than he’s a hotshot rookie. And guess what — that’s not an accident either. While Greg is widely regarded as one of the most intelligent pitchers to ever toe the rubber, Cole continues to be a damn fine pitcher with questionable maturity.

      • dennisund - May 7, 2012 at 3:22 PM

        The context for my original statement about Maddux is important, also- it was countering Craig’s supposition that any intentional HBP is unacceptable.

        Your stance about using it to protect batters is relevant, and understandable. Hamels used it to send a message- unprovoked, just an attempt to exert superiority, and Zimmermann used it to send a message as well- provoked and just retaliation. So Craig should really be giving both incidents equal coverage if it is about potential injuries and having no place in baseball, but it’s apparent he doesn’t think straight when the Phillies are involved.

        Given the Nats’ desperation to have a rivalry with the Phillies, it would have been better for Hamels to just go about his business rather than give them something to latch onto, and watch their GM foam at the mouth in feigned anger to try stirring up ticket sales. So, since the ‘event’ that Craig is so fixated on (like his Ryan Howard mancrush) has come full circle, anything that happens in the next series is independent and without justification.

  8. eaglesw00t - May 7, 2012 at 10:59 AM


    another “News Article” from your favorite media source.

    Lets see if Hamels can hit 5 of the top 10 posts today. You guys sure do like whining about him enough.

  9. drunkenhooliganism - May 7, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    I’m a phillies fan. I don’t like that he hit Harper. I’m still trying to figure out what about Harper isn’t old school. If he’s crowding the plate, then throw inside, repeatedly if you want to. But no reason to hit him and then brag about it like you’re Murray F’in Chass defending some undefinable integrity.

    Hamels is a great pitcher, but he’s weird.

  10. pauleee - May 7, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    No need to get defensive, Craig. You do realize that your biggest “critics” are obvious trolls and/or those with their favorite football team smack in the middle of their user name. Take those comments with a grain of salt. The rest of us will politely (!) disagree when we think you’re full of sh*t. :)

    • drmonkeyarmy - May 7, 2012 at 2:39 PM

      Yes, everybody who disagrees with the blogger is a troll. No doubt about that. I know HBT doesn’t encourage “group think” but a helluva lot of it seems to be going around.

      • pauleee - May 7, 2012 at 3:18 PM

        I said absolutely nothing about disagreement. If there was no disagreement, this blog would be quite boring. I’m talking about the “I saw the headline and I knew it was Craig” stuff. The people who complain when he writes about the periphery of the game and seemingly, would want Craig to write nothing but play-by-play kind of stories, which is not what he does. Dr, you’re in here alot, you seen precisely what I’m speaking of.

      • Utley's Hair - May 7, 2012 at 3:33 PM

        Not everybody who disagrees with Craig is a troll, though there are a few notable exceptions who do nothing but “disagree” and rip Craig every chance they get. Recently, there has been a noticeable uptick in newer, more trollish commenters on here who have emigrated from PFT and/or other sites.

  11. savocabol1 - May 7, 2012 at 11:18 AM

    These stupid unwritten rules are what is killing baseball.

    For me, baseball isn’t fun anymore. I don’t want to sit for four hours watching a game that moves at a pace that would make a turtle seem fast. When you have one pitch every three mins, the game tends to get boring.

    When pitchers do these kinds of things it adds a little spice to the game and brings some excitement to it. I say, keep the bean balls coming. You can hit my teams players too (just dont aim for the head).

    • stabonerichard - May 7, 2012 at 12:13 PM

      The NBA playoffs were a hell of a lot more exciting when guys like McHale and Laimbeer were clotheslining opposing players on their way to the hoop, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for the overall well-being of the sport and its athletes.

      What happened with Hamels/Harper last night is no different in my view than if an NBA team sent in a goon to commit a flagrant foul on a rookie to welcome him to the league.

      Lastly, I’d reckon Harper has brought as much attention to MLB this year as any player. So for a pitcher to decide out of the blue to intentionally drill him with a fastball (above the waist, no less) is just not going to fly. I’ll be very surprised if Hamels doesn’t get slapped with more than the typical 5 games.

  12. casey5jones - May 7, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    He threw at his back, not like he threw at his head or knees. Should he had mentioned it? No. Is it a big deal? NO!

    Can we please now talk about how Fantasy Baseball platforms should award me with Chris Davis’ win?

    • The Dangerous Mabry - May 7, 2012 at 11:42 AM

      Thank goodness getting nailed in your lower back with a hard object at 90+ MPH can’t do any harm.

      But regardless, if “not doing permanent injury” is the only concern, then let’s let the batter keep his bat as he circles the bases. As long as he doesn’t hit the fielders in the head or shins, we’ll call it good.

  13. reds37win - May 7, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    Hamels was trying to send a message.

    “Dear Washington Nationals,

    We consider your team to be a serious threat.

    Philadelphia Phillies via Cole Hamels”

    Welcome to the big time, Nats!

    • ezthinking - May 7, 2012 at 11:59 AM

      Best comment nominee: reds37win

    • evanwins - May 7, 2012 at 5:15 PM

      really? Is a team that’s never finished better than 4th a threat to the team that won the most games in baseball 2 years in a row? Why? because they had a good April?


      think about it.

      • 1historian - May 9, 2012 at 10:35 PM



  14. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - May 7, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    Love this quote from Ben Lindbergh in Baseball Prospectus today:
    What drives every generation of players (and people) to lament the loss of the way things were in their youth and to make things more difficult for those who follow them? It’s the same spirit that inspires a picked-upon high school freshman to make the next year’s incoming class just as unhappy once he’s attained the exalted status of a sophomore.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - May 7, 2012 at 11:42 AM

      Oops forgot the link:

  15. CJ - May 7, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    Craig, to your point Re: Howard,

    1) I’d be beyond thrilled if someone threw at Howard, mostly because that’d mean he’d actually be playing.

    2) Aside from that, I think your point is baseless. In this same page of the unwritten rulebook of Old School, you don’t get revenge by throwing at the pitcher who started it, you get your revenge by throwing at the other team’s best hitter. (Of course, right now you probably could argue that Hamels has been the best hitter some nights this season, and I don’t think I could come up with enough facts to argue against you). Throwing at the guy who didn’t isn’t going to get your point across, if he’s not man enough to suffer the consequences for his actions, he won’t do it in the first place. But put someone else on that team in harms way, and you can be darn sure that guy will make sure it stops. IOW, from a Phillies fan’s point of view, it’s worse they threw at Hamels knee than it would have been if they threw at Howard. I think some phans’ comments about how Harper got his revenge and no further action was needed further proves that (though I’d disagree with that thought personally, it does prove that Philly fans overall didn’t mind too terribly about the retaliation).

    And I still think the complaining about Howard getting hit wouldn’t be as bad as Hamels, as this team is built primarily on pitching and with Lee down and Halladay’s last start and unexplained leave, Hamels potentially gets hurt in a beaning would be disastrous.

  16. delawarephilliesfan - May 7, 2012 at 11:43 AM

    “My own little rule was two for one. If one of my teammates got knocked down, then I knocked down two on the other team.” – Don Drysdale

    • delawarephilliesfan - May 7, 2012 at 11:47 AM

      “I hated to bat against (Don) Drysdale. After he hit you he’d come around, look at the bruise on your arm and say, ‘Do you want me to sign it?'” – Mickey Mantle

      • thecapedbandito - May 7, 2012 at 11:54 AM

        Signing the bruised arm?! OLD SCHOOL.

      • stabonerichard - May 7, 2012 at 12:21 PM

        Cole could offer to let Bryce sign his wife’s tits. Old school meets new school…?

  17. dawgpoundmember - May 7, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    gee i wonder if paulees comment was directed towards anyone.

    i agree with you craig that intentionally throwing at a batter is wreckless just because a ball can get away…since you love the art of the spitball, you know something as simple as a finger nail can change the trajectory of the pitch. but, i think it can go both ways. throwing at a batters area to get him off the plate is part of an at bat. but everyone knows it was hamels way of saying welcome to the bigs…and then he actually said he was an idiot.

    • pauleee - May 7, 2012 at 12:21 PM

      If you want to come in and talk baseball (as you did), then no worries. But if someone comes in just to say “lol baseball is the suxor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!eleventy!!!” or wants Craig to stop writing commentary and just give us the boxscores, that’s another story. That’s what I was referin to.

  18. joecool16280 - May 7, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    I usually get annoyed at the style in which you write but you nailed it on this topic.

  19. delawarephilliesfan - May 7, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    A point that is being over looked in Cole’s comment is who was the intended audience? I mean, the conventional wisdom would be the message was for Harper/the Nationals, but it may be more complex that that. It may well be that the “I hit him on purpose” comment can be translated as “Guess what Ruben? I am God in this town now. And you will have to pony up $25 mil a year for 5 years”.

    Just sayin’…..

  20. ezthinking - May 7, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    There is no Old School rule of beaning rookie. Hamels is a complete tool from the beaning to his dipshit admission.

    On an aside, it’s funny how people will jump on Hamels (as I did) for admitting what he did, but crucify any player accused of PEDs that doesn’t fess up. Interesting dichotomy.

    • pauleee - May 7, 2012 at 12:28 PM

      Back when I was about 8 or 9 I got a book about sports legends. In the chapter on Harmon Killebrew, the story went that early in his rookie season, a pitcher wanted to see what the kid was made of. Threw above his head, knocking him to the ground. Harmon dusted himself off, got back into the batter’s box and promptly hit the next pitch for a home run. I don’t know the particulars of the event and it might all just be mythology, but that’s what I read. So, it’s not unheard of, certainly.

  21. Utley's Hair - May 7, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    Both pitchers need to be suspended. Hamels was acting like a moron for intentionally hitting Harper in the first place. Zimmerman’s retaliation should win him the same suspension. Retaliation is just as stupid as the initial offense. (And I say this knowing that a suspension would cost the Phightins at least one more Kendrick start.)

    Hamels’ honesty, while admirable and a bit unheard of, as well as what we (should) try to instill in our kids every day, also means that Selig’s office can’t stand by and not do anything—unlike what he seems to do with a whole host of other issues. But retaliation should be looked at with just as much scorn.

    • Chris Fiorentino - May 7, 2012 at 1:00 PM

      There is ZERO admirable about Hamels admission. What a frigging idiot. Say it got away from you and leave it at that. By admitting it, you are saying “I really don’t feel like making my next start”. I love Hamels, but come on man.

      It was STUPID to hit Harper and MONUMENTALLY STUPID to admit it. I’m sick of this “admirable for admitting it” nonsense. It was dumb.

      Let me put it to you this way…is it EVER “admirable” to answer the question “Do these jeans make my ass look fat” with “Yes”…even when it is true?

      I didn’t think so.

      • chadjones27 - May 7, 2012 at 1:26 PM

        Actually, to be honest, you can answer ‘yes’ to “make my ass look fat question.” You just better have a back up pair of jeans for her to wear.

        Back to the issue at hand though, I do agree with you about there being nothing admirable about it. It’s nice to see someone stand there and say he did it on purpose instead of hiding behind cliche’s. But, he just cost his team a start. And if the fans want to praise him for sticking up for his act, then they also lose the right to boo his replacement (Kendrick) when he gives up a couple of triples.

      • Chris Fiorentino - May 7, 2012 at 1:43 PM

        “Actually, to be honest, you can answer ‘yes’ to “make my ass look fat question.” You just better have a back up pair of jeans for her to wear.”

        And you better be as fast as Floyd Mayweather Jr. as well…at least in my experience 😉

  22. philsphan34 - May 7, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    The Nationals are awfully touchy about this subject. Pretty ironic they’re all up in arms considering the Nationals have a history of throwing at Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, including breaking Utley’s hand with a pitch.

    • stabonerichard - May 7, 2012 at 2:58 PM

      I’m not a fan of either team. But seeing your reminder that Utley not that long ago had his wrist broken by a pitch, I’d think Phils fans would understand as well as anyone that throwing a fastball at a guy for no reason other than he’s a hotshot rookie is really, really weak stuff.

  23. eaglebobby - May 7, 2012 at 2:55 PM

    Here’s what you’re missing Craig–as usual. The Nats are all of 18-10 and in first place–IN MAY. They’ve been chirping since April they’re the “new team to beat in the NL East.” Their marketing president refused to sell tickets to Phils fans coming down from Philly when their tickets first went on sale. The renamed their ball park “Natitude” for the first Phils series of the season. Please, they can feel good about themselves, but if and until they unseat the Phils and finish–you know, with a friggin winning record, they should shut their mouths and play ball. Last time I looked, basbeall season ends in October.

    • stabonerichard - May 7, 2012 at 3:02 PM

      Totally agree with you. The Nats stuff has been pretty over the top at times, and I can understand the Phillies’ desire to stick it down their throat by beating them. Which is part of what makes sports fun, btw.

      But throwing a fastball at a guy? The Nats stuff might be embarrassing, but that response tops it in shame.

  24. dawglb - May 7, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    This Phillies team needs something to light a fire under them. The basement is typically a cold place. I applaud Hamels for his honesty. His plunking was not a head hunter shot. It was FAR less dangerous and irresponsible than most every other plunking I have witnessed. Suspension worthy? Yes. But, this Phillies team better step up with some fire, now!

  25. Francisco (FC) - May 7, 2012 at 6:31 PM

    Of course I still haven’t seen any of the many Phillies fans in that thread say that they would take it with serene equanimity if someone intentionally threw at Ryan Howard, but why ask for miracles?

    I would. Ryan Howard would merely bite the baseball, chew it up, then spit it out while saying: “That all you got?” Bugs Bunny style…

    In all seriousness I’m with Craig on this one, and I’m a Phillies fan. Hamels had no business intentionally plunking Harper.

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