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By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Whether it was legitimate before this series or not, with one pitch from Cole Hamels, it appears as if the rivalry between the Phillies and the Nationals is absolutely a real one now.
Last night, in the prime time finale of a three game series between the two teams, Bryce Harper stepped to the plate in the bottom of the first. Cole Hamels threw a fastball that hit the 19 year-old phenom in the back. Hamels throwing at Harper wasn’t particularly surprising. It was a surprise when Hamels admitted after the game that he did it on purpose.
“It’s just, ‘Welcome to the big leagues,’” Hamels said. “I was trying to hit him. I mean, I’m not going to deny it.” (Quotes are via 94WIP and Comcast Sportsnet’s Reuben Frank)
“At first he was like, ‘absolutely not,’” MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki told 94WIP’s Angelo Cataldi and The WIP Morning Show on Monday. “And then he was like, ‘I’m not going to lie to you guys,’” he said.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo wasn’t happy with the pitch, or the admission from Hamels. He told the Washington Post, “I’ve never seen a more classless, gutless, chicken [bleep] act in my 30 years in baseball.” He didn’t stop there. ““Cole Hamels says he’s old school? He’s the polar opposite of old school. He’s fake tough. He thinks he’s going to intimidate us after hitting our 19-year rookie who’s eight games into the big leagues? He doesn’t know who he’s dealing with.”
Rizzo continued, “He thinks he’s sending a message to us of being a tough guy. He’s sending the polar opposite message. He says he’s being honest, well, I’m being honest. It was a gutless chicken [bleep] [bleeping] act. That was a fake-tough act. No one has ever accused Cole Hamels of being old school,” he said. “This goes beyond rivalry and all that stuff. This points to, you take the youngest guiy in baseball. He’s never done a thing. And then Hamels patted himself on the back. Harper’s old school. Hitting him on the back, that ain’t old school. That’s [bleeping] chicken [bleep].”
It’s likely that Hamels’ pitch and admission won’t go unpunished by MLB. “I would think that it would involve at least a fine,” Zolecki said. “I know the league is not to keen on players saying that they’re going to intentionally throw at other players. So that was the surprising part about it.”
“I wish he’d have been a little … not so honest about it,” Charlie Manuel said on his radio show on 94WIP on Monday. He said he hasn’t talked to Hamels about it yet, but will speak to him about it today. “What I saw was the next time up Hamels came up to bat they definitely retaliated, he got hit on the calf, and he could have got hurt,” he said “I like to think it was dropped right there and the rest of it would be done baseball wise.”
Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/phillies/Charlie-Manuel-wishes-Cole-Hamels-hadnt-been-so-honest.html#ixzz1uCi5gyfF
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“You do what you have to do,” Manuel said about Rizzo’s comments.
Harper later stole home scoring the game’s first run.
The Nationals and Phillies are both in unfamiliar places in the NL East standings, with the Nationals alone in first place and the Phillies alone in last.
The Nationals’ ‘Take Back The Park’ campaign (see related stories), introduced before the season in an effort to fill their stadium with Nationals fans instead of Phillies fans for this series was the source of talk amongst Phillies fans, and provided a bit of a jump start to the rivalry. The improved play of the Nationals along with a slow start from the Phillies added fuel to the fire. Hamels’ pitch that hit Harper in the back may have been the final match.