Hamels vs. Harper: Does it Really Matter?

Since I started writing for Midway Madness, SportsCenter has been a part of most of my mornings.  Whether it has my full attention or it’s just background noise, it’s always rolling.

Even though SportsCenter is on a continuous loop, it’s not something that gets on my nerves when I’m going about my day. That is, unless it’s a slow day in sports and SportsCenter decides to blow something out of proportion. Then, as each loop of the overrated information passes, I become more and more annoyed.

You’re probably wondering to yourself, “Why doesn’t he just turn it off after the first time and avoid that annoying story?” While that would probably be the smarter choice and would lead to a better morning, I wouldn’t be able to rant about how obnoxious SportsCenter can be. I wouldn’t want to deprive you of that; I’m not that cruel.

This morning, the itch I couldn’t scratch from SportsCenter was the “rematch” between Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels and Nationals rookie Bryce Harper.

Here’s a basic rundown of what happened back on May 6: Hamels hit Harper with a pitch. Hamels said it was on purpose. Hamels got suspended for five games. Hamels is pitching again against the Nationals tonight.

SportsCenter decided to…expand it.

They turned what should have been a small blip into a giant splotch on the SportsCenter radar. There was a montage of the incident from every conceivable angle: angles from the pitcher’s view, the batter’s view, the vendor’s view, the pigeon’s view, even the guy-stuck-sitting-behind-a-pole’s view.

They set it to the type of dramatic music that let’s you know something’s about to go down or blow up. They cut to their staff talking about what a travesty this is for baseball and condemning Hamels to the bowels of hell for all time.

This may be an exaggeration, but only slightly.

First, stop making such a big deal out of the hit. He hit him in the meat of his back. It’s not like Hamels was thinking, “Welcome to the big leagues. Here comes a concussion.” It was more like “Welcome to the big leagues. I’m going to hit you in one of the least painful spots, and then you can go take a base.” Even Roger Goodell saw that plunk and probably thought, “Meh, that one’s ok.”

Second, Harper responded like any player should: the pitcher made a mistake and he capitalized. Boy, did he ever capitalize. When’s the last time you remember seeing a runner earn a legitimate steal of home? Harper got payback right then and there when he took that welcome that Hamels gave him and showed what the kid can do.

Third, stop pretending like you’re so offended by this. This is a part of sports, and you see it all the time in baseball. How many hitters get hit in worse places? How many times has Paul Konerko gotten hit in the face? The only difference with this episode is that Hamels admitted to something that almost every pitcher does.

Fourth, he’s not going to hit him again. Hamels admitted that he was following an old tradition of hazing between veterans and rookies (which also got blown WAY out of proportion). Hamels didn’t do it because he hates Harper or his haircut. It was a one-time incident. Let it go.

I was planning on watching that game tonight because it’s a good matchup between two division rivals. Now I’m going to watch the game to watch Cole Hamels NOT hit Bryce Harper and know that SportsCenter made another mountain out of a molehill.

Follow on Twitter @midwayjon


  • Chdodson21

    Great article! ESPN totally blew that WAY out of proportion. The only problem I have with Hamels, is that he flat out said what he did. He talks about the “unspoken rules of baseball,” he should have said it is what it is and left it at that. I’m guessing he did it because of Harper’s well known cockiness while coming up through the minors.

    • DennisNedry

      These guys know theyre millionaires. they know crushing any eggshells will earn them a spectator seat for a period of time. i actually have more respect for Hamels coming out and saying he did it on purpose. The whole “tongue in cheek” “Ehhh…we know you did it on purpose” postgame interview nonsense is tired. its about time someone spoke up and just flat out- Yes. I did. Next question. And youre right, Jon. He wont plunk him again. At least until Harper decides the batters box is a good place to apply unnecessary amounts of eye black.