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May 7, 2012

Overthinking It

Bryce Harper Takes the High Road

by Ben Lindbergh

We thought we knew Bryce Harper pretty well even before he arrived in the big leagues. We saw him on the cover of Sports Illustrated when he was 16. We watched him dominate against older amateur competition, get drafted first overall, and hold his own against professional players several years his senior. Presented with Harper’s on-field exploits and the testimony of talent evaluators, we never questioned his skills, except to wonder whether he was merely great or the most promising prospect ever.

Our only serious questions concerned his makeup, and Baseball Prospectus was the source of some of the most concerning quotes. Two years ago, Kevin Goldstein wrote, “It’s impossible to find any talent evaluator who isn’t blown away by Harper’s ability on the field, but it’s equally difficult to find one who doesn’t genuinely dislike the kid.” Kevin repeated a scout’s assessment that Harper had “top-of-the-scale arrogance, a disturbingly large sense of entitlement, and on-field behavior that includes taunting opponents.” He quoted one front-office official who said, “He’s just a bad, bad guy. He’s basically the anti-Joe Mauer.”

When Harper was called up at the end of April, we expected to see signs of the star player he was supposed to become. But at 19 years old, his character reportedly hadn’t caught up to his body: judging by how often the adjective was applied, his nickname might as well have been "Brash." (Seriously. Google it.) With the warning words of that scout and official in mind, we expected him to do something stupid that would piss people off and trample all over the unwritten rules. Maybe he still will. On Sunday afternoon, though, the allegedly immature Harper faced off against a seven-year veteran and came away looking like the more mature man.

With two outs in the first inning of the Phillies’ win 9-3 win over the Nationals, Cole Hamels hit Harper in the lower back with a first-pitch, 93-mph fastball. “Fastball in, gets away from Cole. We’re not going to say there was any intention,” said Orel Hershiser on ESPN's broadcast of the game. He was trying to throw “up and in,” said Charlie Manuel. “I was trying to hit him,” said Cole Hamels.

Hamels’ post-game statement—half confession, half self-righteous boast—didn’t end there.

I’m not going to deny it. That’s just—you know what, it’s something that I grew up watching, that’s what happened, so I’m just trying to continue the old baseball [tradition]. I think some people kind of get away from it. I remember when I was a rookie the strike zone was really, really small and you didn’t say anything just because that’s the way baseball is. Sometimes the league is protecting certain players and making it not that old-school, prestigious way of baseball.

Given what we’d heard of Harper, we might have expected an intentional beaning* to bring out the worst in him. But instead of staring or jawing at Hamels or taking a step toward the mound, Harper avoided even looking at the lefty. He went to first, advanced to third on a Jayson Werth single, then stole home on a Hamels pickoff throw to first. (Of course Harper’s first steal would be of home). It was the perfect revenge, the perfect way to handle a plunking. It was the sort of sequence we might still be talking about in 20 years, one that combined Harper’s hustle, competitiveness, and incredible talent. And it was exactly the sort of reaction we wouldn’t have seen coming from someone who supposedly struggled with letting his play on the field speak for him.

*If you click on one link in this article, make it the one that leads to this video of the pitch that hit Harper. Not for the pitch that hit Harper, but for the camera guy’s work at the 15-second mark, where he swings the camera around and zooms in dramatically on a motionless man wearing a Phillies hoodie, as if to ask “WHAT DOES THIS ONE PHILLIES FAN IN THE STANDS THINK?” I half expected the Phillies fan to do a dramatic chipmunk.

Harper is no stranger to controversy caused by being hit by a pitch. After being hit by an A-ball pitcher last season, Harper took out his frustration by admiring a homer he’d hit off one of the offending pitcher’s teammates, then blowing a kiss toward the mound after crossing home plate. The earlier beaning explained—but didn’t excuse—his actions. The home run was the appropriate response. The kiss was overkill.

Over at HardballTalk, Craig Calcaterra posted a video of that incident under the headline, “Bryce Harper is going to get himself hurt.” Later, he added more thoughts under the headline, “Bryce Harper needs to grow up.” Less than a year later, it appears that Harper has. Not only has he advanced to the majors, but there were no kisses blown after the steal of home.

I don’t want to make too much of a single incident, but that’s what Harper’s bad reputation has been based on: a series of single incidents. If we can use one instance of Harper behaving badly to paint him in a negative light, maybe we can use one instance of Harper taking the high road to help rehabilitate his image.

If anything, Harper has been a model citizen since his promotion. He’s avoided any controversy, and his mlb.com video highlights section already extends three pages. It’s like looking at a Hall of Famer’s baby book. The video titles summarize one success after another. Harper’s incredible throw. Harper’s leaping catch. Harper’s barehanded catch. Harper’s diving grab. Harper’s go-ahead double. Harper steals home. Harper boosts attendance at Nationals Park.*

*Okay, maybe not that last one.

After eight games and 33 plate appearances, Harper is hitting .308/.424/.500. He’s walked more than he’s struck out. He hasn’t looked the least bit overmatched. And he’s likely here to stay, since Werth’s fractured wrist leaves a Harper-sized hole in right field and in a lineup that’s already short Michael Morse, Ryan Zimmerman, and Adam LaRoche.

In attempting to teach Harper a lesson about how to behave in the big leagues, Hamels was the one who seemed most in need of a refresher. Even aside from the non-zero risk that Hamels would miss his target and hit Harper in a place where a bone could break, there were plenty of reasons not to take the action he did. First, there was the inadvisability of putting a man on base in order to deliver a message. Harper came around to score, and while that didn’t come back to bite the Phillies, it could have, given their struggles to score this season. Second, there was the inadvisability of admitting to having thrown at Harper, which will almost certainly lead to a five- or six-game suspension where one could have been easily avoided. The Phillies are in last place in the NL East, and with one fewer start from Hamels, they’ll have a slightly steeper hill to climb to a comeback.

Of course, the John Wayne act wouldn’t have worked if Hamels had left any doubt as to his intentions. The question is where those intentions came from. If Harper had looked too long at a home run or committed some other etiquette infraction, the game’s peculiar moral code might have called for a brushback or a bruising. But Hamels didn’t give Harper a chance to commit some offense. He drilled him the first chance he got.

“It’s just, ‘Welcome to the big leagues,’” Hamels said. But Hamels didn’t hit Harper because he’s a rookie. He hasn’t hit any of the other rookies he’s faced this season—not Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Tyler Pastornicky or Yonder Alonso or Andy Parrino or A.J. Pollock. He hit Bryce Harper because he’s talented and because he has a reputation for needing to be put in his place. Never mind that Harper, who always runs hard and whose work ethic has never been doubted, has thus far in his major-league career embodied the best of the old-school values that Hamels claims to uphold.

What drives every generation of players (and people) to lament the loss of the way things were in their youth and to make things more difficult for those who follow them? It’s the same spirit that inspires a picked-upon high school freshman to make the next year’s incoming class just as unhappy once he’s attained the exalted status of a sophomore. It’s the desire to make sure everyone else conforms to the same standards and has it as hard as you did. Today, it’s Bryce Harper. When Harper was still in diapers, it was Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Bonds. From the July 15th, 1994 New York Times:

And so the baseball etiquette debate rages on.

It's not Mariners versus Yankees in Seattle this weekend so much as Griffey versus Showalter, perhaps the game's premier player against one of its brightest young managers in a lively discourse on the merits of respecting the game.

"I shouldn't say this publicly," Showalter was quoted as saying in the magazine story, "but a guy like Ken Griffey Jr., the game's boring to him. He comes on the field, and his hat's on backward, and his shirttail's hanging out."

He also made pointed comments about San Francisco's Barry Bonds, saying that at last year's All-Star Game Bonds failed to tuck in his shirt until game time.

"To me, that's a lack of respect for the game," Showalter said. "Maybe I'm being too picky on these guys. I'm starting to say things like, 'Back when I played.' I thought I'd never say those words."

Before Harper was born, it was Deion Sanders. From the November 9, 2003 Times, recounting an anecdote from a 1990 Yankees-White Sox game:

[Carlton] Fisk, then the 42-year-old White Sox catcher, took umbrage because the 22-year-old Sanders, who etched a dollar sign in the dirt before batting, had not run hard to first on an infield popout. Before Sanders's next at-bat, Fisk said he told the rookie Sanders, ''Run.'' Fisk said Sanders told him that slavery had ended with the Emancipation Proclamation, so Fisk told Sanders that playing the game properly had nothing to do with skin color.

The players wound up going nose-to-nose and both dugouts emptied, but the situation was quickly defused.

Go back to the beginning of the game’s recorded history, and you could probably find a veteran waxing nostalgic about the high standards of his day and condemning the upstarts who’d abandoned them. Unlike Showalter and Fisk, Hamels is a little young to be policing rookies and anointing himself the guardian of baseball’s behavioral standards. Maybe the beaning was meant as a reminder—not just to Harper, but to the Nationals—that the Phillies haven’t missed the playoffs since 2006 and don’t intend to now. If so, it smacks of desperation more than anything else. At the time, the Phillies had lost their last seven games against the Nats, including the first two games of the series. They’re desperately in need of a good hitter besides Hunter Pence who’s under 30 (let alone under 20). They’re a last-place team whose time seems to be drawing to an end, while the first-place Nats’ time seems just to be starting. A hit-by-pitch won’t help them, and any rivalry hitting Harper creates will last only as long as both teams are competitive.

In accordance with the ancient retaliatory rituals, Jordan Zimmermann hit Hamels in his next at-bat. Once the pain wore off, he must have felt like applauding. For his part, Harper fought back any temptation to snipe at Hamels after the game, calling him “a great pitcher and a great guy” who “threw a great game.” (Nineteen-year-olds know only so many adjectives.)

If abandoning Hamels’ “old baseball” means leaving senseless acts of aggression behind, just as it once meant moving past segregation, the reserve clause, and underhand pitching, maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Yes, Harper looks like he got called up in the middle of a haircut and hasn’t had time to finish it. (In that sense, at least, he is the anti-Mauer.) Yes, he wears enough eye black to dull the glare on Tattooine. But unlike Hamels and the Dodgers fans who booed Harper during his debut, let’s wait and see what the Nats have in Harper—the person, as well as the player—before we label him a villain. One half-inning was enough to make me I think a little less of Hamels and a little more highly of Harper. Imagine what the next 130 games can do.

Thanks to Steven Goldman for research assistance.

Ben Lindbergh is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ben's other articles. You can contact Ben by clicking here

39 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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bloodface

Great piece! The steal of home was all he needed to say to rub it in.

May 07, 2012 06:36 AM
rating: 12
 
rcrary

Yes. I'm a Phillies fan, and I agree completely. I think people are expecting to hate Harper, so they hate him and everything he does (him stealing home was labeled as "arrogant" by one fan; as if Chase Utley doing the same thing wouldn't be called "badass"). Hitting Harper smacked of desperation to me, too.

May 07, 2012 07:05 AM
rating: 10
 
beerchaser42

I'm one of the many who thought Harper was/is going to be a douchebag but he's done nothing but impress me so far. I got to see him play in person last week, and the dude just flat out hustles, all the time. I just hope he's still like that five years from now when he is more established, and we don't see that entitlement mentality kicking in.

May 07, 2012 07:11 AM
rating: 12
 
Andrew G.

Agree. At the game Friday night, on pop-up to third, in foul territory, Harper was almost to second when the ball was caught. First time I'd ever seen a player run so hard on a pop foul.

May 07, 2012 10:53 AM
rating: 1
 
Mike V.
(596)

Whether it was right or wrong, I'm glad everything happened as it did. It made for great theater last night.

May 07, 2012 07:19 AM
rating: 1
 
canada

I'd love to see the MLB make an example out of him. I'm not even one who disapproves of the unwritten rules and retaliation but an unprovoked and acknowledged beaning of a young star player? 14 calendar day suspension. Seriously Hamels, ignoring how stupid of a baseball play it was, it was far far more stupid admitting it to the media.

May 07, 2012 07:20 AM
rating: 9
 
tim270

These narratives always amuse me. I read a column a week ago, by Rosenthal I believe, talking about what a great, hard-nosed, hard-working kid Harper was. When a year ago we read columns like the ones reported in this piece that painted him as a prima donna.
I take it all w a grain of salt. I remember when Wieters came up and the only knock on him was he wasn't a great defensive catcher. Well, his defense was FAR beyond his offense, and he rightfully won a GG his second full year in the league. But not before some had labled him a bust already.
These guys are paid to write. So it's only natural that they'll write just to hear themselves do it.
And I fully expect, if Harper doesn't put up a 300/400/500 line this year some genius will say he's a bust too. I do wonder about his production though. His numbers in the minors are less than overwhelming, and there will be an adjustment period for him. Or he just might have been bored against inferior competition. He wouldn't be the first one.

May 07, 2012 07:25 AM
rating: 4
 
robustyoungsoul

Bravo. Bottom line is we don't have a large enough behavioral sample size to draw any conclusions yet.

May 07, 2012 09:50 AM
rating: 3
 
tim270

I guess my real point is, because I know I didn't express it perfectly, if you draw enough attention people are just going to write contrarian points of view- for copy.
Nobody wants to read for the 1000th time that he's a great prospect, so write about what a jerk he is. Or nobody wants to read that he's switch-hitting Jesus for the 1000th time, so write that he isn't great defensively.
It's just the nature of the beast.
Time is the great equalizer. Let's just watch and what is done in the dark shall come to the light. That's the joy of being a fan.

May 07, 2012 10:22 AM
rating: 4
 
NatsReviewCharlie

The beaning was even more stupid because Harper had done nothing in the series against the Phillies other than play hard. He had gone 0 for 7 up until that point. If they wanted to hit someone to send a message, Werth was probably the better option. Instead they just hit a guy because he seemed like a guy who should be hit, not the guy who should be hit. It just seemed silly at the time to me.

Harper debuted in LA to boos from a fanbase that knew nothing about him except the portrayal that he was a diva or something. He'll get booed everyone, he'll get plunked, and he'll still be incredible. But if he keeps playing this hard, pretty soon only people in other NL East cities will boo him, and deservedly so as he's a rival. Other fans will be excited to see him.

May 07, 2012 07:38 AM
rating: 3
 
Robotey

Can't a pitcher be suspended for intentionally throwing at a player?

May 07, 2012 08:17 AM
rating: 10
 
rcrary

Why, yes, yes he can. (Can't imagine why someone rated down such an innocuous comment as yours, btw.)

May 07, 2012 08:41 AM
rating: 1
 
John Geer
(44)

And this would be a great time for MLB to do something more than the '5-day suspension' which simply means 'one start.'

Hamels admits hitting one of the game's newest and brightest stars, for nothing other than Hamels thinking he (Hamels) is "old school" and this whippersnapper needs to be put in his place??

Something more than one start should be levied.

May 07, 2012 09:49 AM
rating: 4
 
mikebuetow

It doesn't even mean missing one start; it means pushing start back one day. In reality, it is no more punishment than a rainout.

May 07, 2012 10:30 AM
rating: 5
 
tim270

Yeah, you can't punish a SP by suspending him short of like 8 days, and that's pretty unprecedented.

BTW, I'm not questioning the author here, but I have to imagine this was kind of tongue-in-cheek by Hamels. Has anybody seen vid of this?

May 07, 2012 10:44 AM
rating: 1
 
Screamingliner

Players don't get paid when suspended, so you can't really try to punish starting pitchers by extending the length of the suspension without running into other problems.

May 07, 2012 23:28 PM
rating: 1
 
Behemoth

Well, if they want to keep their pay, they could always not deliberately hit people.

May 08, 2012 02:39 AM
rating: 4
 
Robotey

I think you give Hamels too much credit to deem it 'tongue-in-cheek'. Hamels has always been very candid, refusing to speak off the record. Most players will tell you it's not what he said--though some of it is inane--but rather that he came out and said it publicly.Rule #1-don't talk about Fight Club. He broke Rule #1.

May 09, 2012 23:09 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Jimenez was just suspended for hitting Tulowitzki. He got 5 games, then timed his appeal so he wouldn't miss a start.

Hamels will do the same.

May 07, 2012 10:43 AM
rating: 1
 
craigburley

I'm a grown-ass man, long past one-upmanship nonsense, but I have to say, I'd have applauded if he'd blown a kiss at Hamels. It would have been dumb, sure: no need to inflame the situation, and Zimmerman took care of any payback needed at a team level. But it would have been justified, hilarious, and good promotion for the game.

May 07, 2012 10:09 AM
rating: 4
 
craigburley

Oh, and: great piece, Ben.

May 07, 2012 10:09 AM
rating: 3
 
amazin_mess

You guys know I like the Mets, but - man - is Bryce Harper is fun to watch.

May 07, 2012 10:11 AM
rating: 3
 
GoTribe06

I love the recounting of the Fisk-Sanders exchange. The love/hate debate in my own mind about Deion Sanders continues.

I also questioned how Cole Hammels became the torch-bearer for "old school" baseball. He is just not the guy I would've pictured going this route.

May 07, 2012 10:12 AM
rating: 0
 
thegeneral13

I'm hoping he keeps it up b/c I want to be able to root for him with no strings attached. Sports are full of impulsive moments so if he is fundamentlaly a jerk it will probably come out. You have to think this is probably the first time in his life he hasn't felt superior to everyone else on the field, so perhaps that's given him some humility. It will be interesting to see whether he sustains that as he establishes himself in the big leagues, or whether he is just innately an a-hole as he's been characterized and his true colors will show as he gets comfortable. But man, it's crazy how hard he hits the ball even when he doesn't square it up. And how hard he plays in general. Part of me wonders whether there's a reason we don't see other major leaguers playing so hard (e.g. wear and tear over 162 games and season after season) or whether he's just a different animal altogether.

May 07, 2012 10:13 AM
rating: 2
 
Shkspr

The sequence of events in the "kissing" game has gotten somewhat muddled in the rush to frame the portrait of Harper's psyche, so just to recap the events as reported in the Hagerstown newspaper's write up:

Greenboro starter Zach Neal actually started festivities by blowing kisses to the Suns dugout after strikeouts. One of those was aimed at Harper after Neal struck him out on a borderline call, but others on the team got them, too. Harper was not HBP in that particular game. In his second at bat of the game, Harper lined a comebacker at Neal that struck Neal on the foot. In the 6th, Harper mashed a homer in his third at bat off Neal, and did stop to watch it go. It was after this homer that Harper blew the kiss tweeted 'round the world. Incidentally, Harper came within inches of a second homer in the eighth.

I suspect that few people read that Harper blew the kiss in reaction to a similar display by the opposition, which in my mind turns the point of the story from showcasing Harper's "entitlement" to showcasing his competitiveness. There is little doubt in my mind that Harper even admires the Neal homer, let alone show up the pitcher, if Neal hadn't decided to celebrate an iffy strike call in the earlier at bat.

May 07, 2012 11:04 AM
rating: 23
 
nemonc

Harper's approach seems the very embodiment of Ty Cobb, who stole home more than anyone in the big leagues, except Harper omitted the glare or the anger issues. Take the base, and make them pay. I wish I could remember the manager who instructed his pitchers "do not intentionally throw one at Frank Robinson". The why was simple: he'd pick himself up from the dirt, brush himself off, and then take the next mistake he sees over the fence. And never a word spoken or obscene gesture made. The real pain wasn't the trash talk, it's the ERA and win-loss column. Hamels is fortunate that Bryce's run scored didn't come back to haunt him.

May 07, 2012 12:14 PM
rating: 0
 
bflaff1

I don't get it. Don't hit Frank Robinson because he likes to sit back and take it easy, and only plays hard if he needs to take revenge on a pitcher?

Think of how good he would have been if he *always* tried to hit mistakes over the wall!

May 07, 2012 16:13 PM
rating: 2
 
Schere

You know what? Harper really is a hard-charging, arrogant SOB. You can't say much about it so long as he backs it up on the field.

May 07, 2012 12:57 PM
rating: 1
 
rossbschauf
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

The fawning over Bryce Harper is fast becoming infantile. The kid is a phenom and remarkable, yes. Please watch a game in person, or more than one, before declaring him a saint. Harper railed at the umpires more than once in this series, more than once unjustifiably. I understand this board and most baseball web sites are now the Harper fan club (I'm his biggest fan...no I am! no its me!) Given that, Clemens, Ryan, Gibson the Big Unit and Pedro all would have done exactly the same as Hamels: plunked him . Not a head shot like Clemens or Gibson may have done. And the same band of loons on these boards, and the pedestrian juvenile author here, would have praised those old-timers for their competitive spirit. Hershiser and Francona were right. Harper himself understood. But the fan club wants blood for their newly anointed saint.

May 07, 2012 13:07 PM
rating: -21
 
BP staff member Ben Lindbergh
BP staff

If you think I would've praised any pitcher for hitting a batter intentionally, I'm afraid you've got the wrong guy.

May 07, 2012 13:10 PM
 
Richard Bergstrom

Schilling, in a clip on ESPN radio, said he wouldn't have hit Harper because oldschoolers don't throw at rookies, regardless of the hype, without a real good reason. Is Hamels going to throw at every rookie to "welcome them to the big leagues"?

And I, for one, don't think anyone should be throwing at anyone, including the retaliation on Hamels.

May 07, 2012 13:42 PM
rating: 5
 
bflaff1

Three things: If the Nats had gone on to win that game, esp. by something like 9-3, there would have been lots of braying about how Hamels 'fired up the [Nats]', 'woke the sleeping giant', etc., etc. (See Chipper Jones' non-stop discussion about Jamie Moyer for a recent example of the 'We were all content to lose quietly, but then... oh no they didn't!' narrative.) So if you want to talk about 'taking revenge' for the plunking, the fact that the Nats were so fired up that they went quietly in the night ultimately strikes me as an empty sort of revenge, style points for a steal of home notwithstanding.

Second point: Zimmermann hit Hamels on purpose, too. So, if we need to be outraged about this sort of thing, broaden the target set. I'm happy to go along with it.

Finally, let's not try so hard to impose narratives. One could easily come at the same facts from a 'Hamels intimidated the Nats/stole the 'Nattitude/showed the young bucks who's boss'' angle, and it would be just as artificial. The official line out of Philly has been a collective shrug at the Nats and everyone who wanted to make more out of this 3 game series than was warranted. Something worth emulating?

May 07, 2012 16:10 PM
rating: -3
 
BP staff member Ben Lindbergh
BP staff

I'm not patting Zimmermann on the back for what he did, but at least he had a reason to retaliate that was consistent with past precedent. Hamels' action was unprompted, and--judging by the reaction by Rizzo, as well as the lackluster support from his own manager and teammates--unsupported even by the unwritten rules.

May 07, 2012 16:18 PM
 
incaficious

The author's comment about a nineteen-year-olds' lack of adjectives may be a little bit off. By repeating the first word of consecutive phrases with "great," Harper was employing a rhetorical device (or figure of speech) known as anaphora. This repition of the word "great" can emphasize respect, while the lack of a varied word choice can diminish the actual degree of respect by not expanding it beyond the word "great." Harper's use of an unvaried word choice suddenly makes his praise somewhat cliche, yet respectful. Besides, he knew that stealing home was all that he needed to say; hence the low-level response. Bryce said it all on the field, and now we are the ones using varied adjectives.

May 07, 2012 18:02 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Ben Lindbergh
BP staff

I don't think all of those comments were consecutive (I pulled them from multiple stories). More importantly, I was kidding. I'm sure Bryce Harper knows many adjectives. "Brash," for instance.

May 07, 2012 18:06 PM
 
Dodger300

I just lost a lot of respect for Hamels.

BTW, I always thought a beaning, or beanball, was aimed at the head, the old bean, you know. Something that headhunters do. Not a pitch thrown at ones back.

From: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bean

bean definition

n. the head.
I got a bump right here on my bean.

tv.
to hit someone on the head. (See also beanball.) : The lady beaned me with her umbrella.


beanball definition

n.
a pitched baseball that strikes the batter on the head, usually by accident. (Baseball.) : He got hit by a beanball and went after the pitcher with a bat.

May 07, 2012 18:40 PM
rating: 1
 
Robotey

You're being too literal. Headhunting will get a pitcher tossed. The back is the best place because not only does it sting, but also there's no escape for the hitter. He doesn't know which way to duck, so he just turns and gets plunked.

May 09, 2012 23:13 PM
rating: 0
 
cornell22

Good article, but saying old baseball proponents are wrong because of segregation is flat out ridiculous. I can be against the DH, inter league play, stepping out the batters box after every pitch and still be in favor of integration and protective headgear.

The only thing wrong with what Hamels said and did is saying he did it intentional. "The pitch got away from me" would have been the old baseball response.

May 08, 2012 00:04 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Ben Lindbergh
BP staff

I didn't say old baseball proponents were wrong "because of segregation." I said that abandoning an element of traditional baseball isn't necessarily a bad thing, as evidenced by some of the advances the game has made by being willing to change (integration among them).

May 08, 2012 00:10 AM
 
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