The Cole War. Seriously?
Everybody knows Cole Hamels called the Mets “choke artists” over the winter on New York radio station WFAN.
He might have been pushed into saying it, but he said it.
He said last Wednesday, “I didn’t know what I said when it happened. I really didn’t. I have to stick by what I said and it’s something where, truly, I like to do most of my talking out on the field. I’m not the type of guy that needs to look for attention in the offseason.”
Hamels recently appeared on WIP with Howard Eskin. Eskin asked Hamels why it is such a big deal to use the word choke.
Hamels replied, “The word choke means you weren’t able to fully come through when you were supposed to. I think the Mets had the top teams, they pretty much had the championships in the bag and they weren’t able to come through. A lot of guys will perceive them as choking in the end and not fulfilling their end of the bargain because they should have taken it. You know what? It really does show the strength and hard work and I guess the deep down guts that we have to take it away from them.”
Totally controversial, right? OK, not exactly. But the New York Post found those comments, wrote a note about it and made it the back page of its national edition today with the headline “The Cole War” splashed across Hamels’ picture. (The final edition bumped Hamels to a banner headline atop Nate Robinson‘s 41-point effort against the Pacers.)
Hamels shook his head and laughed when showed the Post’s back page.
“I think it kind of gets out of hand,” Hamels said. “But you know what? If it spurs enough (interest) to where we get a lot more attention when we face each other, that’s fine. … I don’t want it to be bad blood against their players and us because we respect each other. But if it really gets the fans involved, that’s OK.
“I know that I have the Phillies fans on my side and I know I’m never going to have the Mets fans on my side. So it’s not like they’re going to cheer me when I go out there. I guess if it gets more exciting when we play, I think that’s good for baseball. I think that’s what baseball needs. It needs some good rivalries to forget about the other stuff off the field that’s been happening.”
Hamels told reporters last week in Clearwater that he didn’t regret using the phrase “choke artists” on WFAN becuase he learned from it. He echoed that sentiment this morning.
“I’ll live with it, and I’ll never regret anything I say because I learn from it,” he said. “It’s a situation where I can try to apologize to players because I don’t want them to be offended by it. I have a lot of respect for all the players on their team. I guess it’s just something to stir the pot. Hopefully it’ll get things going for when we compete during the season.”