Peter: I knew it! I knew it! As soon as that show came on the air, I said: "I'm gonna be the one who has to kill these kids."
That was Peter Griffin, in an episode of Family Guy, where Death told him that, to make the world right after escaping his own demise, he would have to kill someone in a way that got the world's attention.
I imagine Cole Hamels had a similar reaction when he read about Bryce Harper in ESPN Magazine.
As we – slowly – get started following last night’s successful Takeover of NATITUDE Park, here’s today’s top story, for better or worse:
“I was trying to hit him. I'm not going to deny it. It's something I grew up watching. That's what happened. I'm just trying to continue the old baseball. Some people get away from it. I remember when I was a rookie, the strike zone was really, really small and you didn't say anything. That's the way baseball is. Sometimes the league is protecting certain players and making it not that old-school prestigious way of baseball.”
Hamels pitched beautifully, giving up only one run and five hits in eight innings, but it’s going to be that quote by which we remember this outing.
With all of his talent, Harper punked his way through the minor leagues and experienced a debut week unlike few before him. Antics like blowing a kiss at a pitcher, which he did at the lower levels, weren’t going to fly in the big leagues. And while the 19-year-old phenom hasn’t yet done any of that stuff in the Show, Cole just wanted to remind him that opposing pitchers can very easily make you hurt, should you get out-of-line.
The self-policing was done right, too. If you’re going to hit a player intentionally, you do it with a fastball and you do it in the middle of the back, near the numbers. It stings, but won’t otherwise injure the batter. It’s something that, quite frankly, Phillies pitchers could stand doing a bit more. One thing that has bothered me over the past two years is the fact that even with all of their competitiveness, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee have never set the tone for the entire staff by plunking a deserving (or even an undeserving) hitter. There have been times – say, following a brawl in San Francisco – where a four-seamer to the back wouldn’t have been the worst way for the Phillies to show some life. So, after dropping two straight to their new rivals this weekend, it was nice to see Hamels kick things up a notch by smacking the douchey pup in the first inning.
Harper got his revenge by stealing home a few minutes later, but that would be it for the Nats off Hamels, who cruised to victory.