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Bryce Harper

Cole Hamels Proves that Baseball Sucks

Yesterday, Major League Baseball announced a 5-game suspension for Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels as punishment for intentionally throwing at Washington Nationals rookie outfielder Bryce Harper.

The beaning occurred on Sunday, so after the past 2 days, this is old news. But forgive me for saying it again:

Cole Hamels INTENTIONALLY threw a 5-ounce object with a hard rubber center 93 miles per hour at Bryce Harper. That’s called assault and battery. (In D.C., the lowest degree of the offense, “simple assault,” would result in Hamels facing up to 6 months in prison.) But since in occurred within the confines of a MLB stadium, then the going rate is 1 missed start and about 500 large in penalties.

Now if 2 days transpiring between the play and this post makes it old news, I guess the weeks-old story of NFL players and coaches being suspended for much larger amounts of time has escaped our subconscious.

“I was trying to hit him. I’m not going to deny it. […] They’re probably not going to like me for it, but I’m not going to say that I wasn’t trying to do it. I think they understood the message.”

“We’ve got to do everything in the world to kill Frank Gore’s head. We want him running sideways. We want his head sideways.”
-former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams

The NFL has long been a sport that has sanctioned violence. And regardless of the fact that they have been snail-slow at making necessary changes to a sport that obliterates its’ employees’ quality of life, the harsh suspensions of Williams and Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, among others, were met with approval from the vast majority of fans, save for those in the Bayou. Take away the bounty program, rich with “intent,” and the sport is still violent enough to hand down suspensions and fines for what used to be legal hits. Insert the bounty program, and the sport becomes a forbidden sanctuary for anybody’s future children. (Your choice if you want to have your kid end up like Junior Seau.)

Baseball is different. Players oftentimes play well into their late 30s and early 40s because physical contact with another human being is rare. Players actually go on to the disabled list for being sad. But just because the guys on the diamond don’t regularly produce violent acts, all in the name of competition, doesn’t mean that this should be swept under the rug.

Hamels exhibited decent control of his 93 mph fastball, drilling his intended victim in the small of the back. But last time I checked, even the best location masters on the mound can throw a wild pitch or two at any given moment. Maybe the ball slips, maybe it’s a little wet from some raindrops, or maybe the pitcher’s delivery breaks its mechanics. If Hamels didn’t have control of that fastball, what happens if Harper gets drilled in the head? What happens if Harper takes it in the eyes? Surely, the only guarantee in that scenario would be Hamels keeping his mouth shut.

And don’t give me any of that noise about Hamels being a man’s man. I’m taking sides with Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, who called Hamels “fake tough.” For instance, take a look at this A-Rod-esque photo:

If you’re a purist, and you subscribe to the notion that the Nationals let “baseball take care of it” by plunking Hamels in retaliation, then you’re crazy. Hammurabi’s Code expired in our laws long, l… Read more...

MAMBINO Fantasy Monday: The Panic-Meter

On Friday, the Anaheim Angels and the Washington Nationals called up the consensus #1 and #2 prospects in the game, Bryce Harper and Mike Trout respectively. At ages 19 and 20, Harper and Trout are the two current youngest players in the major leagues. “Wayne’s World” has more experience existing than these two. Writing that bringing these two up from the minors is a “panic move” is hardly an overstatement; it might just be accurate.

It’s early in the season, but what I know is that it’s never too early for a team to freak out from underperformance. Let’s take a quick look at some early season moves made by teams across the MLB landscape, grade them 1 to 10 on the “Panic-Meter” and see what type of fantasy implications are there.
The Anaheim Angels call up OF Mike Trout
MAMBINO Panic-Meter: 7 out of 10
For the Angels, Trout’s call-up coincided with veteran Bobby Abreu’s release from the team. Now 7-15, the Halos are performing far below expectations. In fact, they’re one of the worst teams in baseball, along with the Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals. For Anaheim, the reason for pressing the panic button is pretty obvious: they didn’t give Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson over $300 million dollars combined to finish in last place. They did it to win a World Series.
However, it’s not like this is just a move to just shake up the team. I mean, it’s definitely that, but this is also a really simple numbers issue. Abreu had a putrid spring training, followed by hitting .208 in limited duty this year. Bobby no longer plays the same type of Gold Glove defense that he was known for and was the biggest weakness of an Angeles log-jam in the outfield with Peter Bourjos, Vernon Wells, Torii Hunter, Mark Trumbo and of course, Trout.
More importantly, Trout was laying waste to the Pacific Coast League, hitting .403 with literally a billion extra base hits (I exaggerate; it’s 10 in 20 games, with 6 stolen bases, to boot).

Yes, this is a panic move for the Angels because of how quickly their season was slipping away from them, even in March, but this was also just a simple numbers move for the Halos. Abreu was bad, and Trout is good. Any team, regardless of expectations, would have made this move.

Fantasy spin:Pick up Mike Trout, right now, if he hasn’t already been snatched up.  But perhaps more realistically, this is going to change the look for the other Angels in the line-up. Unless he really stinks, Trout is staying up for good, and probably hitting in the lead-off spot for the duration. I’d buy low into Peter Bourjos, who’s hitting in the 9 spot, seeing as Trout, who has some pretty impressive power, will  be hitting directly behind him.

The Washington Nationals call up OF Bryce Harper
MAMBINO Panic-Meter: 9 out of 10
For the Nationals, the reasons are a little less clear. Harper was only hitting .250 in the minors, with just 6 extra base hits in 82 plate appearances; hardly tearing it up. The logic is that the Nats probably wanted to bring up their young phenom immediately following spring training, but didn’t want to start his “arbitration clock” (which means, quite plainly, that Washington would have to pay him more money sooner if they brought him to the majors right away rather than waiting 3 weeks). At 14-7 and leading the NL East, Washington didn’t necessarily need him anyway. Right?
Wrong.  With 1B/OF Michael Morse and 3B Ryan Zimmerman on the DL, and Roger Bernadina, Xavier Nady and Rick Ankiel Read more...