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If you are a baseball fan, you understand that there are countless "baseball codes" when it comes to playing the game. Some are based on superstitions (which ballplayers seem to live by). Some are based on respect and self-policing. Examples like don't talk to a pitcher if he has a perfect game going. Don't stand at home plate and admire your homerun or you can expect to get nailed by the pitcher the next time you are at the plate. If your top player gets hit by a pitch, your pitcher hits the opposing team's top player. And on and on it goes.
     Last night, Cole Hamels threw a 93mph fastball right at 19 year-old Bryce Harper during his first at-bat. Hamels said it was just a part of "old school baseball." He didn't deny hitting him for a second. He was trying to make a point that the kid was still a rookie and that this is a man's game. Harper didn't charge the mound. Instead he hustled out a single by the next batter to make it to third and then proceeded to steal home. A nice bit of payback for the youngster. And yes, the next time Hamels was up to bat, the Nationals pitcher fulfilled his duty to protect his player and plucked him with a pitch.
     I'm a fan of baseball, and all that comes with it, but this "tradition" has got to stop. It's a terrible example for kids to see. And anytime you are throwing something 93mph with the intention of hitting someone, there is a serious chance for injury. What if Harper failed to turn completely and instead takes it on the arm. Broken arm. Lost games. Long-term problems. Who knows. I understand an older player getting frustrated at the stuff Harper has done in just a short time up in the majors. He's playing like a veteran. Getting solid hits. Hustling like nobody else out there. But to risk all of that future to prove a point is absurd. Hopefully MLB will send a serious message to Hamels, the other pitchers that are thinking about doing the same thing when they face Harper, and more importantly to the kids that watch these games and look up to these guys. They need to know that this isn't the way to go about the game. Call it old-school if you want, but I think it's time to forget about this right-of-passage and think about safety.

 





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