Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cole Deserved Better

Cole Hamels looked pretty bad last night in his first start of the season. His command was off, and a mixture of meatballs and walks led to a 6-run third inning. Hamels was yanked after allowing his second hit of the inning to Mets pitcher Chris Young. Upon exiting, Hamels was booed by the sellout crowd at CBP.

I've always been relatively supportive of booing. I grew up in the Philly area, and was raised on WIP and pessimism (with regards to sports). I've defended our fans with regards to J.D. Drew, Donovan McNabb, Eric Lindros and countless others. And as a pretext, let me reiterate that I do not mean this as a general stab at the behavior of Philly fans. I love our passion and I'll defend it against outside criticizers (whose support we don't seek anyway). Passion always beats apathy, even if it means an occasional battery or snowball.

But last night, Cole Hamels deserved better than the response he got.

Cole Hamels is a major reason why the Phils won the 2008 World Series. His dominance in the second half of 2010 helped rehabilitate a struggling team and lead it to the playoffs. Once there, he shut out the best offense in the NL (the Reds) on the road to lead the Phils to the NLCS. He's always been good to the fans and is an active year-round member of the Philadelphia community.

It's easy to get lost in the hype of our "historic" pitching rotation, but get a grip. Bad games will happen. Each of the four aces will likely have a night like this at some point in 2011. One of them may even have a bad month or so. Baseball is a highly-stochastic game and sometimes the ball doesn't bounce your way. Last night's 3rd inning is a good example of this; as bad as Hamels was, all of the hits were singles... some of them loopers and seeing-eye hits.

Cole Hamels, I believe, will be fine. He's historically struggled in April and I have no doubt that his location will return (his velocity is already at mid-season strength). Cut him a break.

Before loudly booing one of the team's best players of the past decade, I wish attending fans had looked out to center-field. There they would have seen 2 red championship flags. If not for Cole Hamels, there may only be 1.

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