So, Cole Hamels claims he’s “old school” after admitting he intentionally hit Washington Nationals’ phenom, 19-year-old Bryce Harper. Now, the reality is, he’s a piece of crap. There’s nothing old school, honorable, admirable, or otherwise positive about what Hamels did; essentially, drilling a guy in the back with a fastball with zero provocation. Now that we’ve established this, let’s move on to the real issue at hand. What is a proper way to respond, if you’re the Nats?
They way they did respond is that Nats starter Jordan Zimmerman hit Hamels in the leg the next time Hamels came up to bat; a tacit acknowledgement that they knew what he was up to earlier. The response elicited a warning to both benches that any more of that nonsense would result in ejections. Is that really enough of a response though?
My answer is no. If you’re Zimmermann (and yes, I know that managers have a say in this matter), how can you not throw your fastest fastball right at the chin of Hamels. You don’t have earhole him (though I wouldn’t be against it in this situation) but you need to remind him of how vulnerable a hitter can be up there. Moreover, you need to show your teammates that when you’re on the hill, guys aren’t aren’t going to be throwing at them because you’ll protect them.
In the 2008 NL Championship Series, Phillies’ starter Brett Myers was throwing at Dodger hitters, including Manny Ramirez and Andre Ethier, with impunity. The chicken#$%^& umpires did nothing, and neither did Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley. Phillie pitching continued to take liberties well into the following game until Hiroki Kuroda fired a fastball above the head of Shane Victorino as if to say, enough is enough.
How’s this for a solution to today’s issue? The Nats have a guy in their bullpen named Henry Rodriguez, their stand-in closer who recently had a fastball clocked at 104 mph. How about warming up Rodriguez and bringing him in the next inning in which Hamels is due to bat, slide Zimmermann to whatever position where a player can be sacrificed for the game, and having Rodriguez drill Hamels with one of those 104mph bullets? Sure, it’s transparent, but what can anyone say? You’ve just sent a message, “nobody throws at the future of our franchise.” Sure, Bud Selig, who is a complete travesty of a commissioner, corrupt and incompetent, would definitely botch the discipline aspect. But isn’t a 25 game suspension for the manager worth the next ten years of your prized prospect batting in relative safety?
If you think that’s extreme, I’d insert myself as catcher when Hamels came up, and lock his oh-so-valuable left pitching arm in a MMA style subission hold and not necessarily let go when he tapped. But that’s just me. What about you?