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.

Hall of Fame defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy dies at 48

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AP Images

Hall of Fame defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy dies at 48

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Hall of Fame defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy has died in Orlando.

Police say the 48-year-old former Seattle Seahawks star was found dead on Tuesday morning.

Orlando Police Department public information officer Wanda Miglio said the circumstances surrounding his death are still unknown, but that there is nothing suspicious about his death. An investigation is being conducted.

One of the best defensive lineman of his generation, Kennedy was a star in his 11 seasons in the NFL with the Seahawks. He became the second Seattle player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012. He was an unmovable wall as a dominant defensive tackle, and a quiet, gentle soul away from the field never interested in finding himself in the spotlight.

Kennedy was an eight-time Pro Bowler and won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 1992.

"Really sad to lose a guy like Cortez Kennedy," Broncos' general manager John Elway tweeted Tuesday. Elway was chased around by Kennedy twice a year for much of the 1990s as competitors in the AFC West. "A great personality, a great player and I enjoyed competing against him."

Even though he last played for the Seahawks in 2000, he remained a significant part of the organization. He was a mainstay around the team during training camp and would occasionally roll through the locker room during the regular season grabbing a few minutes with anyone -- players, coaches, media -- up for a chat.

"My heart hurts," current Seahawks offensive lineman Justin Britt tweeted. "We lost a truly great player but even better person."

10 observations from Day 1 of Eagles' OTAs

10 observations from Day 1 of Eagles' OTAs

There was finally some football in South Philly on Tuesday as the Eagles kicked off the first round of their OTAs. 

Aside from a few notable absences -- Fletcher Cox, Jason Peters, Donnie Jones -- the Eagles had just about everyone on the field (see story)

Here are 10 observations from Tuesday's practice: 

1. Here's how the first-team offense looked: 
QB: Carson Wentz
RB: LeGarrette Blount
TE: Zach Ertz
OL (left to right): Lane Johnson, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Halapoulivaati Vaitai
WR: Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Jordan Matthews

2. Here's how the first-team defense looked: 
LDE: Brandon Graham
LDT: Destiny Vaeao
RDT: Tim Jernigan
RDE: Vinny Curry
LBs: Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham, Mychal Kendricks
S: Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod
CB: Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson. 

Note: In the nickel package, rookie third-rounder Rasul Douglas came on the field as an outside cornerback and Mills slid into the slot. 

3. Early in the practice, in an offense-only drill, the Eagles were trying to audible into a new play, but there was some confusion with Blount, who didn't seem to know the play. Blount is still obviously learning the playbook, but it shows the respect they have for him that he was working with the ones already. 

4. The play the Eagles wanted to get into during that drill was a good one. Wentz rolled out to his right and found Jeffery streaking across the field. The two seem to be getting on just fine. 

Although later in 11-on-11s, Wentz tossed up an ill-advised pass deep to Jeffery in tight coverage and the ball was picked by McLeod. Jeffery will win a lot of battles, but that one was too much. 

5. Linebacker Joe Walker and cornerback Ron Brooks were on the field on Tuesday but didn't participate in team drills. Walker (ACL) and Brooks (quad tendon) are both recovering from significant injuries. 

6. The Eagles lined up a few times with Darren Sproles and Donnel Pumphrey on the field together. Those few times, Sproles was in the backfield and Pumphrey lined up in the slot. It's early, but we might get to see some creativity from Doug Pederson with these two this year. 

7. Dillon Gordon, whom the Eagles signed as an undrafted rookie last year, did something interesting on Tuesday. The offensive tackle, who played tight end in college, took a few reps at tight end in limited offensive drills. That's intriguing because if he could play the role of an extra tackle during the season, he'd have something Matt Tobin doesn't: the ability to actually become a receiver, not just an eligible one. 

8. Robinson, who is getting run at corner with the first team, won a jump ball with Dorial Green-Beckham on a deep ball. It was an impressive play by Robinson, but DGB mistimed his jump. 

The best defensive play of the day came from Najee Goode in 7-on-7s. The veteran backup linebacker and special teamer dropped back and dove backward to break up a pass off the hand of Nick Foles. 

9. Obviously, there's no hitting yet, but Derek Barnett had a good first day going against the vets. Sure, Lane Johnson completely shut him down on one play, but Barnett showed off a variety of moves. 

10. The Eagles' two rookie receivers worked with the third team on Tuesday, while DGB and Nelson Agholor worked with the twos. Shelton Gibson showed off his quickness and Mack Hollins' size and speed combo wasn't any less impressive. Also, Hollins wasn't wearing gloves, but it didn't seem to affect his ability to catch. 

Stupid observation of the day: Thanks to his afro and thick beard, Seumalo kind of looks like a lion with a mane.