It is not all that often you will see two posts on the same topic, but I have to share my opinion of the events in last nights Nationals-Phillies game. I actually loved seeing the game handled the way it was. I am already sick of the Bryce Harper hype, despite him being a key piece of my dynasty style fantasy league. Bryce Harper is being treated like a superstar, but he is only a 19 year old kid with a handful of games under his belt, and, granted, immense talent.
It was obvious, and props to Hamels owning up to it, the ball in the middle of Harper’s back was intentional, but also the right way to hit somebody. A fastball right between the numbers on the back. No risk of long term injury, but a guarantee he will feel it and have a welt to show for it. Harper handled himself like a vet, just jogged down to first, and made Hamels pay with excellent base running. Harper went from first to third on a single, and then stole home when Hamels threw over to first. Both incredibly heads up plays, and one of the few ways to win after getting intentionally drilled.
I agreed with Orel Hershiser that following inning when the 3 hole hitter for the Phillies came up with nobody on and two out, it was a perfect time to retaliate, but Zimmerman passed. At the time, I was disappointed in Zimmerman’s decision. Then, on Hamels first trip to the plate, there it was, the retaliatory pitch. Now, Torsten is right, the pitch he hit him with was awful. There is a right and wrong way to hit a batter, and Zimmerman did it wrong. The ball should be from waist to shoulder blade height and right in the middle of the body, just as Hamels had delivered.
Henry Rodriguez putting a ball in someone’s back certainly would have been a good second option, but the situation was properly handled by all parties. Hamels made a statement that was simple and clear. “Bryce Harper, welcome to the Bigs, you are no prodigy up here, you are just another fish in a huge pond, and I am gonna let you know it.” Harper took the message, and shoved it in Hamels face with the steal of home. Zimmerman hit Hamels letting him know he was not going to stand for him hitting one of his teammates. The managers sat back and let it work itself out, and the Umpire came out with a simple, not theatrical warning, acknowledging, but not adding to the situation,
Overall, I was proud of both teams for the way last night went down. Lots of respect around from me. Hamels for having the balls to throw at a future superstar and be blunt with the media about the fact that is exactly what he was doing. But even bigger respect goes out to Harper. He could have easily complained, he could have easily let it get into his head and slacked around the bases, but he went out there and manned up. He should wear that welt with pride, and then go get a damn hair cut.