Bryce Harper is congratulated after stealing home.
Bryce Harper's first at-bat during the Washington Nationals' 9-3 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies Sunday did not last very long. Cole Hamels' first pitch to Harper struck him in the lower back, his first HBP of his week-long MLB career.
After the play, ESPN analyst Orel Hershiser, a veteran of nearly two decades, said that Hamels was trying to send a message to Harper. According to Hamels, that is exactly what he was doing:
"I was trying to hit him," the Philadelphia lefty said. "I'm not going to deny it."
That's something I grew up watching, that's kind of what happened. So I'm just trying to continue the old baseball because I think some people are kind of getting away from it. I remember when I was a rookie the strike zone was really, really small and you didn't say anything because that's the way baseball is," Hamels said.
"But I think unfortunately the league's protecting certain players and making it not that old-school, prestigious way of baseball," he said.
In other words, Hamels said, "It's just, 'Welcome to the big leagues.' "
That's OK, because Harper turned that message into a run when he stole home later in the inning for his first MLB stolen base and only the second steal of home in Nationals history.
Cole Hamels: Natitude Adjusted.
UPDATE: According to The Washington Post, Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo had some choice words for Hamels.
“I’ve never seen a more classes, gutless chicken [bleep] act in my 30 years in baseball.
“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.”
Now that's Natitude.