Cole Hamels reminisced Thursday about his childhood in San Diego before the Phillies opened their four-game series against the Padres.
The lefty recalled his love for the Padres growing up and how much it hurt to see players leave.
I mean, I loved that team, and all of a sudden it disappeared. I remember watching Fred McGriff before that, loving that guy, and boom, hes gone. I think its hard to be a fan to devote your time to players, then see them leave like that, Hamels said to the San Diego Union-Tribune, via HardBallTalk.
Hamels could be putting thousands of young Phillies fans in the same position if he leaves Philadelphia after the 2012 season. He is set to hit the free agent market if the Phillies cannot lock him up with a long-term deal in the coming months.
If you were watching Thursday nights game, the seats were pretty empty at PETCO Park and Cole understands why. Its not the fans. They alienate their own fans by not keeping guys around, especially the guys they develop. They wont keep an Adrian Gonzalez or go get that big-name guy. Thats just hard on a fan, Hamels said.
The Padres currently rank 22nd out of 30 teams in attendance through the first month of the MLB season.
Whos in first? That would be the Phillies. Phillies fans have sold out Citizens Bank Park for 120 consecutive games and its because the Phillies front office is willing to pay.
In recent years Ruben Amaro Jr. has done whatever it takes to please the fans and put out the best team possible with additions like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee (twice), Hunter Pence and Roy Oswalt.
They've made those additions without letting their own players leave. Jimmy Rollins signed a three-year deal this offseason, and Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are both signed to weighty contracts.
Will Cole Hamels be next?
Most Phillies fans hope so. He helped the team win its first championship in 28 years, took home the World Series MVP in 2008, and has been an integral piece to the Phillies ever since.
The Phillies are known to pay their pitchers; Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee both make over 20 million per season and Cole could be next.
The team has the payroll and Cole Hamels hates to see homegrown players leave. Could that be the recipe for keeping the homegrown pitcher in Phillies pinstripes for years to come?
The Phillies' fans, and front office executives, hope so.