Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels not only nailed Washington Nationals rookie Bryce Harper with a pitch simply to welcome him to the big leagues, he admitted to it.
Writers from around the Tribune Co. will discuss whether Major League Baseball should take a harder stance against pitchers who hit batters. Check back throughout the day for their responses and join the conversation by voting in the poll and leaving a comment of your own.
Bill Shaikin, Los Angeles Times
Is a pitcher throwing at a batter? Intent can be notoriously difficult to determine -- unless, that is, a pitcher admits his intent, as Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels did. The most common admission is this: “The ball just got away from me.”
“Come see our headhunting pitchers” is not the best advertisement for baseball, so Hamels and any other pitcher admitting intent should be suspended. The league already suspends pitchers deemed to throw at batters with intent, no matter what the pitcher says, if the umpires and league executives believe intent is clear.
The question is whether Hamels should receive a harsher suspension than a pitcher who does not admit his intent, even when the intent is so obvious that the league suspends the pitcher anyway. The answer is no. Beyond the punishment for the action, why the additional punishment for the honesty?
[Updated at 1:23 p.m.:
Keith Groller, Allentown Morning Call
Credit Cole Hamels for his NASCAR-like honesty in admitting that he hit Bryce Harper in the name of old-school baseball and showing the sport’s next best thing that he’s not being welcomed with open arms by everyone. However, Hamels’ admission will cost him plenty. When Roger Goodell is sitting down Bountygate bad guys for full seasons, MLB has to flex its own muscle and show the proper amount of concern for its personnel.
MLB, however, should not overreact just because the NFL has gotten tough. In fact, these encounters are often best policed by the players themselves without interference from the umpires or Bud Selig, especially in the National League, where pitchers must hit. The threat of a four-seamer in the ribs will always serve as more of a deterrent than a five-game suspension.]