Want ‘old-school’ baseball tradition? Jackson needs to plunk Hamels

Posted: May 23, 2012 in MLB
Tags: , , , , ,

Is this really the showdown everyone had been anticipating in May.

If someone said, that in late May there will be a game between the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies, and it could very well be the most anticipated rematch in the first quarter of the season, you’d all laugh.

Not the Red Sox-Yankees, or the Reds-Cardinals, or the Tigers-White Sox. Not even the Dodgers-Giants.

The Nationals and Phillies.

But, yes, with Philadelphia southpaw Cole Hamels toeing the slab tonight against the Nats, in a 7:05 p.m. (est) first pitch, all eyes will be on his first meeting with the Nationals since he “welcomed” the rookie from Las Vegas into the bigs with a 93-mile per hour kidney-check that might have even made Mama Harper squirm a little bit.

Nevertheless, Sheri Harper knows her little guy is a big boy and can take it. She has to know there will be quite a few more of those purpose pitches around the corner, with all the bombs he’s sure to set off in different stadiums.

He was already a rookie-legend, before Hamels thought he needed to tame whom he thought was a cocky youngster exuding a tad too much confidence for a 19-year-old. But in the event anyone agreed with Hamels’ assumption, they may have changed their minds and turned them into Harper fans and sided with the slugger, who happens to be tied for fourth in the league with triples (3) already.

Excuse the kid if he’s simply trying to find an identity for himself, while setting the tone by creating one for an entire franchise, but I hope Harper gets the last laugh tonight and hits that Liberty Bell in dead center.

Two times.

I loved it when he simply took first after getting drilled, then proceeded to record his first stolen base of his then eight-game MLB career, not to mention etched his name in the books as youngest player to ever steal home.

On the year, against southpaws, Harper is batting a killer .296 (8-for-27), with a pair of doubles and triples, and three RBI. His slugging percentage is .519 against lefties, and please, just give him some runners to work with, cause he’s batting .500 with runners at 2nd and 3rd this year.

Hamels is 6-1 with a 2.48 ERA on the season, and since the five-game suspension he was handed for aiming at Harper, he’s 2-0 with a pair of home wins over the Padres and Red Sox, lasting seven innings in each, while a total of 11 hits and four earned runs.

But here’s what intrigues me about Hamels’ comments about the incident. It’s not the first part, we all know about him saying “I was trying to hit him. I’m not going to deny it.” But for me, in regards to this game, it’s more about him saying: “So I’m just trying to continue the old baseball because I think some people are getting away from it.”

Well Cole, if you want “old-school baseball,” that means Washington starter Edwin Jackson needs to take aim at your back, hip, thigh or, quite frankly, your ass. You’ve got one coming now, if we’re playing by the old-baseball rules.

Your teammate Shane Victorino knows about old-school baseball. Remember during the 2008 playoffs, after the Flyin’ Hawaiian was brushed back by Hiroki Kuroda? Victorino gestured towards the non-English-speaking pitcher to make a point, and later explained that he didn’t mind a pitcher throwing inside, “that’s baseball,” as he put it. Just don’t throw at anyone’s head.

Old school baseball.

So, if Jackson, who is 1-1 with a 3.31 ERA on the year, is going to get mixed up in this little brouhaha, we could see dugout warnings by the third inning. Jackson is in after one of his best outings, last Friday, albeit a 2-1 loss to Baltimore. He allowed just one run on five hits while striking out eight in eight frames. He doesn’t have a decision in his last three starts and has a 2.70 ERA to go along with his inspired play.

So much intrigue for this game tonight, and oh did I mention, the Nationals (26-17) are looking to complete a three-game series sweep of the struggling Phillies (21-23). Plus, the Nationals have beaten the Phillies 13 times in their past 16 meetings, dating back to last season.

And maintaining a 5-1/2 game lead over the Phils in the National League East, you’d expect, in this series finale, the Nationals to have a target on their backs.

Or, in Hamels’ case, on their kidneys.

The Phillies have been installed between $1.50 and $1.60, with the total sitting at 6-1/2, under -110.


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