Philly's LoveHate Relationship with Cole Hamels Came Full Circle Sunday Night

Philly's LoveHate Relationship with Cole Hamels Came Full Circle Sunday Night

I remember buying a Cole Hamels shirsey in pretty short order once the team started marketing his name and likeness circa 2006/2007. The purchase was made as a result of this near-indisputable argument: "He's young. Left-handed. And throws punches with his pitching hand. This is the guy."
Of course, as time went on, Cole seemed less and less like a bar brawler. We made fun of his voice and none of his personality traits were really an issue because the guy won the World Series MVP in just his third season and broke our city's 25-year championship drought. At that point, all we had on him, other than the voice impersonations (this being my personal favorite), was the idea that he was just "a little too California for this town" (It should be noted, of course, that Chase Utley is also from California and he's been pegged as the prototypical Philadelphia athlete, so none of these stereotypes really mean anything).
ANYWAY, fast-forward one year and October 2009 nearly ruined everything. Just twelve months after Cole was one of the select group who wore all-black in the parade, his public reputation with Phils fans hit its low point. He showed up his teammates after a botched play in the field, appeared sullen and defeated in a postgame press conference and just wished for the season to be over.
Cole Hamels doesn't have what it takes to play in this town. He doesn't know what being a Philadelphia athlete is all about. He doesn't get that you don't show up the best defensive shortstop in the game on the biggest stage in baseball. He wants it to be over? Well so do we. See you later, Hollywood.
Remember that talk? Or this talk?
Every year since, Cole Hamels has become a better pitcher. And for a guy who appeared to lack a certain mental toughness -- or any kind of toughness really, you know, with the voice and all -- he grew as a starter and a leader in spite of losing his position as the club's ace to not one, not two, but (arguably) three guys.
He didn't pout, sob, demand a trade or publicly complain that he has lost his spot after winning the World Series MVP just two years prior. Instead, he learned from Cliff and Doc and Roy, and now, in 2012, he's the best pitcher on the staff. Granted, it's been a small sample size, but you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who would label Cole's early season performance an aberration.
This all leads us to Sunday night, when he intentionally threw at Nationals rookie Bryce Harper. His logic

“It’s just, ‘Welcome to the big leagues,’” Hamels said in the clubhouse after eight dominating innings. “I was trying to hit him. I mean, I’m not going to deny it.”

“I think they understood the messages, and they threw it right back, and I think that’s the way it [should be done], and I respect it.”

“Oh yeah, that’s baseball. I’m kind of happy that’s the way it works, because that’s the way it should."

"I grew up playing the game hard and watching it, and that’s the way it was, and I’d hate for them to change it, which has kind of happened in recent years."

Hamels' actions and comments are now being almost unanimously celebrated in Philadelphia (if not in Washington or the national media). Really, check the comment threads on this or any other local site.
Awesome. Epic. Bad ass. Good on ya, Cole. I didn't know Hollywood had it in him. This guy gets it.
And there you have it. We've come 360 degrees on Cole Hamels. First, he was a bar-brawling, changeup-throwing menace. Then, he was a pretty boy wuss who had no business putting on a Phillies uniform. And now, he's so valued we're desperately worried about whether we have the money to keep him in case another team (from "Hollywood," go figure) wants to steal him with the aid off an obscene pile of cash, because not only is he one of the best pitchers in the game, but he's also an old-school baseball vet who knows that you throw at the loudmouthed rookie when he's getting a little big for his britches.
Cole Hamels: So Philly.

Best of NHL: Lee scores 2 power-play goals, Islanders beat Kings

Best of NHL: Lee scores 2 power-play goals, Islanders beat Kings

NEW YORK -- The New York Islanders are on quite a nice roll.

Anders Lee scored two power-play goals to lead the Islanders to a 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night, giving New York its third straight win and fourth in the last five games.

"We've been keeping it simple of late," said Lee, who has four goals in two games against the Kings this season. "We've been getting shots on net and being more effective. I'll do my thing down low."

John Tavares had a goal and an assist, Jason Chimera also scored and Jean-Francois Berube stopped 34 shots to earn his first win in his third start of the season (see full recap).

Hartnell snaps tie as Blue Jackets beat Carolina 3-2
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Blue Jackets would just as soon forget the second period of Saturday's game, when the Carolina Hurricanes rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie it.

Columbus didn't play much better in the third but withstood 15 shots and killed three penalties. Midway through, Scott Hartnell scored his second goal of the game , and the Blue Jackets beat Carolina 3-2.

Columbus got the win despite being outshot 37-20.

Hartnell scored in the first period and then netted the tiebreaker, helping the Blue Jackets overcome a horrendous second period - in which they managed only two shots on goal - to beat Carolina for the second time this week (see full recap).

Beagle scores in overtime, Capitals beat Stars 4-3
DALLAS -- Jay Beagle scored 19 seconds into overtime and the Washington Capitals rallied to beat the Dallas Stars 4-3 on Saturday night.

Evgeny Kuznetsov skated behind the net and put the puck in front to Beagle. His wrist shot beat goalie Kari Lehtonen, who got tangled with a defender and lost his footing.

The Stars led 3-1 and didn't allow Washington a power play until the third period, but then Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie scored with the man advantage in the first 5:26 of the period.

Adam Cracknell and Jamie Benn scored for Dallas on plays that originally were ruled no goal. Patrick Eaves had a goal and an assist for the Stars (see full recap).

Bogosian scores in overtime, Sabres edge Canadiens 3-2
MONTREAL -- The Sabres couldn't score from in close on All-Star goalie Carey Price late in regulation Saturday night.

So Zach Bogosian teed it up from a ways out in overtime to lift Buffalo.

Bogosian scored his first goal of the season in overtime and the Sabres beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in the second game of a back-to-back for both teams.

Buffalo nearly broke through against Price near the end of the third period. Price made a pad save on Matt Moulson on a breakaway at 19:40, and then with six seconds remaining, he robbed Rasmus Ristolainen with a windmill glove save (see full recap).

 

Best of NBA: Kawhi Leonard scores 41, Spurs down Cavaliers in OT

Best of NBA: Kawhi Leonard scores 41, Spurs down Cavaliers in OT

CLEVELAND -- Kawhi Leonard scored a career-high 41 points, LaMarcus Aldridge had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 118-115 in overtime on Saturday night despite missing starters Tony Parker and Pau Gasol.

Leonard scored six in OT, including a game-sealing dunk with 4.9 seconds left, as the Spurs regrouped after a late collapse in regulation.

David Lee, making a rare start in place of the injured Gasol, added 14 points as San Antonio improved to 18-4 on the road.

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving scored 29 apiece for the Cavs, who had the last shot in regulation and had plenty of opportunities in the extra five minutes. Cleveland still had a chance to tie it in the final second of overtime, but Kevin Love missed a 3-pointer (see full recap).

Lillard, McCollum carry Portland to OT win over Boston
BOSTON -- Damian Lillard had a three-point play with 47 seconds left in overtime and finished with 28 points to lift the Portland Trail Blazers to a 127-123 victory over the Boston Celtics on Saturday night, snapping their four-game losing streak.

CJ McCollum scored 35 points to lead Portland, which lost in the closing seconds in Philadelphia on Friday night. Lillard added seven assists.

Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 41 points, his 14th time this season with 30 or more points. Marcus Smart and Al Horford each scored 17 for the Celtics, who have lost two straight after winning 13 of 16.

Thomas nailed a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:24 to play in OT, pushing Boston ahead by one, but Al-Farouq Aminu was fouled on the next possession and hit both free throws to move Portland back in front.

Lillard then drove the lane, was fouled and hit the free throw. Mason Plumlee had a short jumper in the lane and a free throw in the closing 24 seconds (see full recap).

Booker scores 26 as Suns edge Knicks 107-105
NEW YORK -- Devin Booker scored 26 points and made a go-ahead 3-pointer with 31 seconds left, and the Phoenix Suns beat the New York Knicks 107-105 on Saturday night.

Carmelo Anthony's attempt at a winning 3-pointer rimmed out as Phoenix snapped a two-game losing streak and handed New York its second loss in a row.

Eric Bledsoe added 23 points for the Suns, while P.J. Tucker and Marquese Chriss each had 15.

Anthony led the Knicks with 31 points, Derrick Rose had 26 and Kristaps Porzingis scored 14 (see full recap).

Dekker scores career-best 30 leading Rockets past Grizzlies
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Sam Dekker scored a career-high 30 points, James Harden added 29 points and 10 assists and the Houston Rockets leaned on their usual 3-point offense to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 119-95 on Saturday night.

Eric Gordon added 21 points as the Rockets built the lead to as many as 20 in the fourth quarter before easily coasting home.

Dekker, making his first career start in place of the ill Ryan Anderson, made 12 of 19 shots, including 6 of 11 from outside the arc. Houston shot 51 percent overall and 38 percent from distance.

Marc Gasol scored 32 points and Mike Conley added 15 for the Grizzlies, who lost for the third time in the last four.

Memphis struggled shooting the entire night, finishing at 37 percent and unsuccessfully tried to follow the Rockets' long-range attack but converted only 9 of 34 from outside the arc (see full recap).