Monday, May 7, 2012
Would Cole Hamels Plunk Tiger Woods?
Doesn't Cole Hamels realize that Bryce Harper, the Washington Nationals' rookie sensation, is the hottest marketing machine with integrity to come along for MLB since Fernando Valenzuela? (The last great promotion was during the steroids era, producing a faux competition of homeruns led by Bonds, McGwire and Sosa.)
Oh, it's that baseball 'Code' thing. No big deal, Wonderboy shook it off.
Bryce is strutting his stuff and bringing back fans to the game. So far, he has made diving catches and thrown runners out with an amazingly strong and accurate arm. But, it is his baserunning that is grabbing the most excitement.
Players make so much money these days and play so many games that they are not willing to take as many risks as 'old-school' players used to.
It used to be that guys were willing to go for an extra base or try to make something happen on the basepaths.
Trying to stretch a single to a double or double to a triple is not nearly as common as it used to be. It's too bad because making the other team make a play is what can make watching baseball the most fun.
Players play conservatively to protect themselves from injury and seem indifferent because why risk an extra-base, it can't make that big of a difference.
Harper's greatest 'natural' quality so far has been using his instincts to make things happen. He's taken the extra base when it didn't look like he could make it and then against Hamels-after being plunked, he accomplished the most exciting play in baseball-stealing home.
Ironically, Hamels called himself 'old-school' after intentionally beaning Harper the other night. He was trying to say that Harper is 'new-school' and he is trying to set him right.
Does Hamels think Harper as a show-off or a hungry ballplayer is hurting the game?
Probably not, but he may not completely understand that Harper is paying part of his salary this season.
Harper's worth is money for everyone, like what Tiger has done for golf.
Tiger brought more money to the sport of golf than it ever had before and all professional golfers were indirect beneficiaries of his success.
Harper is gold in the sport now and can continue his midas touch only by playing his brand of ball.
Trying to set Bryce Harper right on how to properly make an entrance into one's rookie year and Baseball's grand order only raises Harper's image among the masses.
Maybe Hamels did know what he was doing after all.