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There’s no excuse for Cole Hamels intentionally throwing at Bryce Harper

May 7, 2012, 8:22 AM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks Getty Images

As we saw last night, Cole Hamels admitted that he threw at and hit Bryce Harper intentionally. Harper being young, brash and, in Hamels’ mind anyway, pampered was his motivation. “Old school baseball,” was his defense.  But no matter how he rationalizes it, it’s low rent and pathetic.

Hamels says that he wasn’t trying to injure Harper.  But it was a 92 mile per hour fastball, and I’m sorry, no matter what your intentions, a 92 mile per hour fastball has the potential to do serious damage to a person. Obviously he did not injure Harper, but he very easily could have, his intentions notwithstanding.

What if Harper turns a little late or a little early and it breaks his wrist? What if the ball gets away from Hamels ever so slightly and runs towards Harper’s head? It doesn’t matter that neither of those things happened. When a hard-throwing pitcher intentionally aims a baseball at batter, he is acting recklessly and, in my view, maliciously, and that has no place in baseball.

And spare me your “it has always been thus” arguments. Just because something is a tradition doesn’t make it right. People have had their careers ended by thrown baseballs before.  A couple have even been killed. We decry cheapshots and intentional efforts to harm opponents in every other sport. We should feel no differently about it in baseball. And I defy anyone to give me a justification for doing so that does not rest on the “it has always been this way” defense. A bad act is a bad act no matter how many people have perpetrated it in the past.

Hit batsmen are a part of the game, regrettably. But there is no excuse for intentionally hitting anyone. Even Bryce Harper.

228 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. mojosmagic - May 7, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    “You are missing” the unwritten baseball code of the last 125 years.

    • philiplewis1 - May 7, 2012 at 12:08 PM

      You would have a really hard time ever finding a case of a major league hitter who was actually intimidated by someone throwing at him. All you do is make him mad and mad players become motivated players who then become better players and they beat you. Throwing at players may be the dumbest of all the baseball “traditions” (I must have a “closer” would be 2nd). Intentionally putting someone on base has no advantage at all and has huge disadvantages as evidenced by Harper finally scoring last night and making Hamels pay for his stupidty (or his manager’s). Just get the hitters out. Don’t wake them up by or motivate them even more by throwing at them.

    • pjmarn6 - May 7, 2012 at 3:12 PM

      I was hit by a baseball when I was 11 and suffered ligament damage which to this day, 50 years later, occasionally acts up and causes pain. I wasn’t hit by a 92 mph fastball.
      Deliberately throwing a baseball at another person is a 100% illegal act. Someone should file criminal charges against Hamels, have him brought to the police station and face charges of assault, attempted murder or whatnot and this nonsense would immediately end.

      • pjmarn6 - May 7, 2012 at 5:42 PM

        The 19 of you who oppose Hamels being brought up on legal charges would not file suit if someone threw a rock at you and caused you physical damage or threw an object at your child and caused them to be brought to the emergency room in a hospital for a serious injury. How juvenile. When a person goes out of their way to harm another person they should be held legally responsible.
        I see where most of you applauded the use of performance enhancing drugs even though it destroyed Cooperstown, the hall of fame and all the records. Players used it to get MONEY and fool your knotheads into believing that they had special physical abilities.
        Now you agree that it is completely proper to throw a very hard object at the body of another person with the intent to intimidate and injure. Gee…..I wonder why all the people were bothered when Mariano Rivera hurt his leg? Isn’t that also part of the game? A few inches this way or that way and a broken bone, crushed eye socket, blindness or a disabled elbow deliberately caused by a madman is okay for your guys. You are all crazy!

      • Utley's Hair - May 8, 2012 at 10:51 AM

        There is an inherent risk of injury every time a player steps into the batter’s box. That’s why you hafta sign those little legal mumbo jumbo type thingies called waivers in order to play. Sorry you got hit, but you’ve had half a century to get over it. I think it’s time you do.

  2. generh - May 7, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    In eight games Harper could not have made Hamels mad about anything. Hamels was just p.o.ed that this hot shot player was igniting attention and his team at the same time. It was immature and meaningless to hit him. I know all about the purpose pitch and all that and this incident doesn’t apply to any of that. This was a veteran player doing something stupid out of shear meanness. It was poor sportsmanship. That is why so many people consider it wrong. And it was wrong.

  3. dennisund - May 7, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    Since Craig Calcaterra likes deleting posts that use his words against his beloved Braves, time for a repost! Greg Maddux plunked more batters per season than Hamels, making Maddux a full-on jerk, according to Craig’s definitions.

    • delawarephilliesfan - May 7, 2012 at 12:06 PM

      I saw the original post – it got deleted? Seriously?

      • dennisund - May 7, 2012 at 12:48 PM

        I saw it confirmed to be posted, and then it’s gone. You do the math.

    • Utley's Hair - May 7, 2012 at 1:19 PM

      Before you get all high and mighty, ripping on Craig for that, check again. It’s there. At times, this site does go all screwy—like the whole multiple pages snafu this morning—but they tend to fix things pretty quickly.

      • dennisund - May 7, 2012 at 1:25 PM

        Before I get high and mighty? Isn’t it a little late for that? 😛

      • dennisund - May 7, 2012 at 1:31 PM

        I owe Craig an apology. Sorry Craig.

  4. eknirb - May 7, 2012 at 11:56 AM

    Hamels had no call to throw @ Harper. Harper didn’t do any of the traditional things to show him up..IE stare at a home run for a longtime, dance around in the batters box, etc. He just threw at him and then, he stupidly admitted it- I guess to gain brownie points with the other Phillies.

    What Hamels DID do was put a bulls eye on his teammates, to make it easier for Washington pitchers to hit him.

    I applaud Harper for simply stealing home. Best payback of all.

    • Utley's Hair - May 7, 2012 at 12:55 PM

      Any payback plunkings in the future should gain immediate ejections, fines and suspensions, including Johnson, if necessary. Hamels plunking was idiotic, but so was Zimmerman’s retaliation. They both deserve equal suspensions and fines for propagating sheer dangerous idiocy.

      • odj810 - May 7, 2012 at 2:31 PM

        I don’t know about that. I think it was just silly to admit you were throwing at someone. I commend hamels for throwing at his mid back though. Its not like he gave him the high heat. And i commend zimmerman ovbiously he had to retaliate but i like that he threw at hamels low instead of one of there top hitters. It was dumb but dumber that he admitted it, it would be a non issue if he just said yea missed location

      • eknirb - May 7, 2012 at 3:05 PM

        nah, the ‘code’ requires retaliation. Harper didn’t do anything to warrant getting plunked. Once he got it, the Nats P had no choice but to plunk someone. just mid-speed to the hip or the thigh or the butt. Nothing above the waist.

      • malum13 - May 7, 2012 at 3:29 PM

        Neither of them deserve suspensions. Players are so pampered nowadays its insane. Nolan Ryan had to laugh when he heard Cole’s response along with countless other old school pitchers. He didn’t do this to hurt Harper. Cole has amazing control of his fastball when he throws it full speed, although the author would like you to believe it was a 92MPH fastball, watching it on television they only had it at like 87-88 I think. And that is with their radar which is usually off. He put it between his Thigh and his lower back. Everyone knows thats the softest most padded spot on any person, it absorbs most of the impact. Did it hurt year, was Bryce ever in danger of getting hurt no. Pitchers lose command when they over pitch or force something. Cole was laid back and just hit the kid. Zimmerman did exactly what he was supposed to by hitting Cole. Cole didn’t bark at him, Zimmerman didn’t say anything they both just moved on. Thats baseball. Thats how the game is supposed to be played. You knock the rookie down a peg or two. haven’t you ever seen Field of Dreams. I bet you found it comical when that pitcher played some viscious chin music. Its old school and although the author doesn’t think their is a spot for this tradation in baseball, he is wrong. Pitchers need to protect that inside corner by putting a little fear and modesty in their opponents, thats all Cole did.

  5. megafan81 - May 7, 2012 at 12:11 PM

    Truth is stranger than fiction. Read the new book “Calico Joe” by John Grisham and see the eerie parallels. Cole Hamels is not a washed up pitcher but maybe Bud Selig should make that book mandatory reading for any pitcher espousing “old school baseball” . In the book a son watches his washed up pitcher father bean an up & coming Cubs 1st baseman in the head. The pitcher was jealous at all the notoriety the young phenom was getting. The phenom went into a coma, had seizures and a stroke, and never played again. Is this what you want for Bryce Harper, Mr. Hamels??

    • pjmarn6 - May 7, 2012 at 5:52 PM

      With megafan81’s comments, I more than ever believe when a player deliberately attempts to hurt another player that it be considered a crime that should lead to being arrested. One views baseball for the skills shown not for the infliction of pain and suffering.
      Another thing, don’t let anyone tell you that being thrown at doesn’t affect you psychologically. It is always in your mind. It is always sitting there and you are thinking when the next close pitch comes, what should you do. IT IS CALLED SELF PRESERVATION!

  6. Chris Ross - May 7, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    I think this definitely brings to light the issue of intentionally hitting a batter in baseball. It’s a touchy issue with a lot of people because we are afraid of change but you wonder if something needs to be done about it. Hamels was so open about it yet I don’t see the MLB doing anything about it. Is it any different than hitting a quarterback in the head or throwing an elbow at a player in hockey? I’m not sure it is but then again this is old time baseball and it’s the way things are done. Hamels post game comments are definitely going to stir up some debate.

    • bencas4 - May 7, 2012 at 1:10 PM

      The MLB is doing something about it, it just happened last night. To be honest, anyone that watches the game on a regular basis and is part of the baseball world does not find it to be as significant as the article would like to portray. Was it a good idea? Of course not, but neither was the one the injured Polanco for a season or other players every year. No one raises cain about that, yet when someone honestly states what they did, they take the brunt of the anger. I do not think Zimmerman’s toss was by accident. Hamels should have kept his mouth shut, but he is a different kind of fellow, who know what makes him tick. But keep in mind, the 5 game proposed suspension for a pitcher is even more of a joke since that is the length of a rotation.

      So they can keep their “Natitude” and treat Philly with rudeness, which all of you are not aware. But when a team that was supported by our fan base for years when they could not sell a ticket bite the spoon that fed them, you have expect some type of extreme behavior.

      Don’t worry Craig, Harper is a pro, he knew how to take the pitch.

      • gsrider911 - May 8, 2012 at 11:46 AM

        Thank you, summed it up perfectly.

        I was concerned about the “Natitude” crap as well. Seems like they are trying to get fans into fights in the stands. This isn’t football, but I guess the Nats are trying to make up for several forgettable seasons by being bullies?

        Hamels got suspended to shut the ‘criminal charges’ blowhards up. Since he doesn’t really miss a start it doesn’t really have any teeth (thank goodness). If I were an MLB pitcher and Harper was in my Division, I would have vowed to plunk that little punk after seeing him blow kisses at a pitcher in the Minors last season.
        If we want to split hairs over who is more ‘old school’ or ‘proper’ about the way they go about their game, you have to consider that Harper has a questionable recent past.

  7. seeinred87 - May 7, 2012 at 12:36 PM

    I totally get why people would be against intentional beanballs. They may have even convinced me that it’s “wrong.” However, it’s a whole hell of a lot of fun to watch games like that. There’s so much tension. And as wrong as it is, I think seeing a pitcher get plunked is one of the more dramatic events in baseball. As Matt Vasgersian says in The Show, “And anytime you hit the pitcher, you’re asking for trouble.”

    Also, it’s Jordan Zimmermann. 2 n’s. Minor nitpick I guess, but I don’t think I saw it spelled correctly once in 3 pages of comments.

  8. Bob Timmermann - May 7, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    Spelling Jordan Zimmermann’s surname correctly isn’t a nitpick. It’s a necessity to differentiate him from the team’s regular starting third baseman.

    I’m guessing the Nats are the first baseball team that Ryan Zimmerman ever played for where he wasn’t last in alphabetical order on the team.

  9. wpjohnson - May 7, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    Big deal. Hamels felt he needed to protect the traditions of baseball by hitting an overly prissy nineteen year old rookie who has, to date, proven nothing. Good for him. He hit him in the back. He didn’t hit him anywhere where he would be injured.

    All in all, Harper should just be thankful that he waqsn’t facing Sal Maglie. Traditions and proper deportment are more important in baseball than in any other sport. Harper has earned no respect yet. Hamels merely reminded him of that fact. Hamels did his duty and he readily admitted it. Baseball needs more like Hamels. If harper wants to priss, let him go to the NBA or NFL where is is unfortunately tolerated.

    • electstat - May 7, 2012 at 1:10 PM

      “who has, to date, proven nothing”…except, of course, making the majors at 19.

    • 5thbase - May 7, 2012 at 1:18 PM

      #1 Yeah, his laser beam doubles, stealing home on your crappy team, turning a single into a double and showing some fantastic defense have all combined to prove nothing! I won’t be convinced he’s an amazing talent until he hits at least 800 HR.

      #2 And you’re right, he’s so prissy … like when he uh … well, uhh, you know …. he must have done something right?

      #3 Obviously nobody could possibly hurt to have a 92 mph pitch hit their spine. No possible chance for anything bad happening there.

      I don’t care anything about the Nationals, I am just enjoying seeing that the Phillies suck so bad that they get caught up in a silly war with a 19 year old.

    • Utley's Hair - May 7, 2012 at 2:42 PM

      You have nothing but fluff and feathers in your back? Most people have bones and muscles back there. And nerves. And kidneys. Aw hell, who needs them anyway?

      Hitting anybody anywhere is risking injury.

  10. stevem7 - May 7, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    There is no excuse for what Hamels did and as such he should receive a lifetime ban from baseball. And I really don’t care what those who don’t agree with that have to say. If I were Harper I guarantee that following Hamels public admission I would have called the police, had him arrested and charged with assault and battery and let him sit in jail for a few years. A supreme act of cowardice on Hamels part to do that.

    • bencas4 - May 7, 2012 at 1:17 PM

      A lifetime ban from baseball? Really? Do you know how many pitchers the MLB will lose with that skewed logic? So what if the second baseman is cleated? Shall we amputate the feet from the runner? A foul ball off the foot towards the catcher should be a stoning. I hate when they spit tobacco, twenty lashings for that one!

      Oh what about the moving strike zone from the ump? Or the outfielder that reaches into the crowd to catch a foul ball! So selfish!

      Steve, you are so funny!

      • sdbunting - May 7, 2012 at 4:42 PM

        “Steve, you are so funny!”

        I assumed he was joking. Was he not?

      • pjmarn6 - May 7, 2012 at 5:59 PM

        All it takes is one example to be made and throwing with intent to intimidate and hurt stops. Plenty of players have been hurt by being thrown at and you have no idea what psychological damage is done by having a pitch miss your head or a vital organ. You also forget that if a player is hurt, and cannot play, his salary and future is gone! Reason enough for a civil lawsuit and millions of dollars in damages. All it takes is one legal case and this crap stops.

    • delawarephilliesfan - May 7, 2012 at 1:37 PM

      How do you really feel?

      • bencas4 - May 7, 2012 at 2:47 PM

        HAHA…not as much energy as it may have seemed! The idea of arresting athletes for assault charges and banned from baseball is bizarre. If they want to penalize him, fine within the realm of the MLB. But it does not rise to the level of anyting worth the while. At most it would be simple assault and cost more taxpayer money due to the circus than it is worth. Does anyone really believe that Harper wants to be associated with this issue?

        Before people make statements like that, they need to understand the slippery slope. How does one determine going forward as to intent? Only Hamels would admit it. Therefore, we would only penalize those that admit to it. Otheriwse, pitchers do mess up and sometimes they take aim. Other times they just go too far inside. Good luck figuring out the difference.

        Pandebailey, below, makes a good point about getting out of the way of a pitch. It is not a lost skill, but boys are taught to get tattooed or they risk being meowed by their teammates. This is part of baseball and if they want to change it, it starts in childhood.

      • delawarephilliesfan - May 7, 2012 at 3:56 PM

        Wait – just so everyone is clear – I was directing my “How do you really feel” comment at Stevem7

  11. pandebailey - May 7, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    Wow, lots of people (including Craig Calcaterra) haven’t seen many baseball games, have you? It must be a shock the first time you see that throwing person hurl that round thing so close to the man with the stick, huh? Oh my.

    How many players get hurt with pitches (almost always hands and elbows) during a season – 5 or 10? How many “seriously” hurt? I can’t remember one over the last decade. Since they play 5,000 MLB games a season, I don’t think this is a problem you need to rush out and fix.

    Know what the real problem is? Players have lost the skill (and wisdom) of avoiding inside pitches – they used to drop to the dirt instead of stand and get hit, so the message was the same, without the pain. Now they dig in, get hit and complain. You think Babe Ruth got hit every week because pitchers used to throw at players more? Nope. The most Ruth was hit was 6 times in 1919. Last year, 63 MLB players were hit more than 6 times. Its not more head hunting, its batters who refuse to hit the dirt.

  12. tackledummy1505 - May 7, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    We live in a day and age where every sport has become sissy la la land. Cole Hamels is doing a traditional thing and now we’re going to throw the book at him. What’s next, if a batter charges the pitcher after getting thrown at 5 automatic games suspended because fighting is too violent. Even the intentions of fighting is too much for our rated G sports. I know sports are suppose to be family oriented, but seriously people sports haven’t come all this way because of sissy terms. What would football be like if there were no big hits? Where would hockey be without huge grueling checks, fights, and skillful moves to put the puck in the net? What if basketball took out dunking because players are tearing their knees up, breaking hands for dunks, or falling on their head as they come down. Do you think people would watch basketball at all if all they did was layups? How about 2 hand touch football? Pitchers automatically ejected for hitting a batter no matter what. It’s getting out of hand all the sissy stuff. Sports better watch it in this economy, because fans will slowly but surely just say the hell with it and keep their money for their own good. Why go to a game if the rivalry is taken out of it? Why go see a game if it’s just a bunch of players dancing around each other rather than checking each other. I understand there has to be a cap on the injury side, but Bryce Harper wasn’t hurt, nor did he care that he was hit. He made Cole Hamels pay for christening him. Yet we live in a G rated sports time. It sucks and I for 1 as a fan am getting tired of it. Take your female anatomy and go watch ballet if the games are too violent for you.

  13. stex52 - May 7, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    I inadvertently checked “All replies to E-mail.” Boy, was that a mistake on this thread!

  14. protius - May 7, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    Hamels should not be allowed to walk up-right for a week; he should not be allowed to throw his feces at the fans for a week, and his ration of bananas should be given to the poor.

  15. custer392 - May 7, 2012 at 2:57 PM

    Next time Hamels faces the Nats, someone should bean Hamels. It is after all an “unwritten rule of baseball”. You intentionally bean our guy we’ll bean yours.

    • Utley's Hair - May 7, 2012 at 4:05 PM

      Well, you obviously missed the part of the story where it says he was hit by Zimmerman’s retaliatory pitch already.

      If anybody carries this mess forward, they need to be ejected, suspended and fined immediately, even if it means Johnson.

      • bownut1754 - May 8, 2012 at 9:56 AM

        Bs it was over when Hamels got hit. Until he admitted he hit him on purpose.

    • protius - May 7, 2012 at 4:37 PM

      The Nats should throw at Hamels every time he comes to bat, because he’s an occasional knuckle walker who likes to pull his hemorrhoids and lick his fingers.

      • Utley's Hair - May 7, 2012 at 5:35 PM

        As opposed to you, who is just a hemorrhoid…?

      • protius - May 7, 2012 at 7:32 PM

        Blah, blah, blah, “as opposed to you, who is just a hemorrhoid…?”, yada, yada, yada, as opposed to you who likes to suck hemorrhoids yada, yada, yada.

  16. edpeters101 - May 7, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    OK MLB; time to grow-up and put an end to this insanity! Who cares what happened 50 years ago, or 5 years ago for that matter. Throwing a baseball at somebody (be it a batter or a base runner) is just plain stupid and should be outlawed by issuing a suspension that has meaning.. This is not a game for boys, it is a business for men and they should start acting like it. YMMV

    • gsrider911 - May 8, 2012 at 12:00 PM

      what about when a base runner intentionally lets the ball hit them! I saw Elvis Andrus spear his head toward a thrown ball trying to get hit in the head in a run down this season!
      What do we do about that! oh my! the sky is falling…

      Did you know that baseball players are being HIT by baseballs?? What gives?

      this is being blown out of proportion. Getting hit is part of the game. You just shouldn’t be dumb enough to think that you can admit doing it on purpose.

  17. jlee999 - May 7, 2012 at 3:45 PM

    Good Lord Craig Calcaterra, what is your problem? Have you not ever played the game of baseball?

    Pitchers throwing at hitters is a reality. If it upsets you and sends you on a moral cringe, then you don’t need to be watching the game, much less writing about it.

    Why don’t you go watch a tiddy-winks competition?

    • protius - May 7, 2012 at 4:29 PM

      Tiddly-Winks, is a much more violent game than baseball.

      In 1949, Elizabeth Taylor almost lost her left tiddly to an enraged Agnes Moorehead during a heated match in Acapulco. Apparently, Agnes didn’t like the way Liz’s Tiddly winked at her.

  18. wpjohnson - May 7, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    Some of these posts are unbelievable. Obviously, they were written by those who never played real baseball. Sadly, it is probably an indication that a little fellow who throws a baseball with a bit of a feminine flair will be reelected president.

    • Utley's Hair - May 7, 2012 at 4:09 PM

      No, but the fact that he is infinitely better than both his predecessor and any other options available is an indication that the president will be reelected.

      • protius - May 7, 2012 at 4:31 PM


  19. JP - May 7, 2012 at 9:46 PM

    I agree that Hamels really had no reason to hit Harper.

    I will say, however, that I actually sort of respect how he handled everything. We’re talking about an NL pitcher, who obviously knows he has to bat against the other team, admitting to intentionally plunking the guy. He didn’t go after Harper’s head. He knows the implications. I kind of like the old school move.

    I certainly respect it more than an AL pitcher (Ubaldo Jimenez-Troy Tulowitski) doing it and then pretending it was an accident. At least he was man enough to admit it, knowing that he’ll have to face Washington pitchers.

    • bownut1754 - May 8, 2012 at 9:54 AM

      Here’s the deal it was over with after hamels was hit but his comment about hitting him on purpose opened up more. Like Kruk said on bbtn last night old school was just looking at the reporter when asked if you hit them on purpose not admitting it. Now phillies batters have to worry about taking a 100 mph fast ball from Strasbourg.

      • Utley's Hair - May 8, 2012 at 11:38 AM

        If he does plunk a Phillies batter, he should be ejected immediately, suspended and fined, as should Johnson. Same goes for the Phils if they retaliate.

  20. whlskey - May 8, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    The only way this could have been any better at getting people all riled up, is if Bryce Harper would have winked at Hamels right before the pitch.. That would have been legendary.

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