Welcome back to The Sports Ace, where we have a four-homer game at least once a season.
Last week, Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels was suspended five games by Major League Baseball for intentionally beaning young phenom Bryce Harper of the Nationals. A lot has been made of whether he should have enforced an “unwritten rule” of baseball, or whether he was suspended for hitting him in the first place or actually admitting it. Personally, I don’t think any of this is really relevant.
MLB had to suspend Cole Hamels, and here’s why: Bryce Harper is the future. Anytime you hit someone with a pitch, injury can result…and the kinds of injuries and lingering effects that players can sustain are still coming to light. Bryce Harper is a player that some have compared to Mickey Mantle…he has an incredibly bright future as a top-flight superstar for the Nationals and MLB for years/decades to come. Where superstars are concerned, so are gate revenues…team brands and fan-building opportunities…jersey sales…team competitiveness…the value of franchises…just to name a few. It only takes one freak event; an injury to a player like Harper could/would have significant ripple effects and cost many parties money, time, momentum and the like.
Also, if I were MLB, I’d be concerned about preventing this kind of activity from becoming the norm, or discouraging others to follow Hamels’ lead in the future. Eventually, someone would really get hurt, and the game will suffer. Five games is significant, but Hamels will only miss one start…his wasn’t a statement-making suspension like the NHL and NFL have been handing down lately. If anything, MLB missed an opportunity to render a more substantial punishment and more forcefully state its case.
MLB had to issue a swift, significant suspension in order to protect its own long-term interests. It’s as simple as that. And I think that most baseball fans, if they stopped and considered all that’s at stake, would agree that MLB did what it had to do to protect the integrity of the game.
That’s all for now. I’m out like the Minnesota Twins.