A Rivalry Is Born

I’m not sure what is going to happen the rest of the season, but I know a few things:

  • The Nationals are legit. They are a talented and hungry team. They want what the Phillies have and they are playing like it.
  • The Phillies are better than this, but they have to show it.
  • Cole Hamels‘ asking price did not drop last night. He pitched like a guy who is worth$120 million or more.
  • He probably will be suspended or fined for his honesty.
  • Bryce Harper is the real deal. Talented. Smart. Energetic. Aggressive. Charlie Manuel raved about him. Said he loves his hustle. Even mentioned the ball Harper could not quite leap to catch late in the game. Couldn’t agree more. Harper is special. You know you’d love to have him on your team.
  • The Phillies found their next great rival following last night’s 9-3 victory at Nationals Park.

I know there are 133 more games to play, but the Phillies could not have afforded to get swept this weekend. It would have dropped them to 13-16 and 6 1/2 games behind the Nationals. I know Washington has not proven anything yet, but you’ve got to think its pitching is for real. And if its pitching is for real the Nationals are going to be in a lot of games this season. And while I know they have their share of offensive concerns, especially with Jayson Werth breaking his left wrist and missing at least the next six weeks, I don’t look at them like other early-season surprises that faded down the stretch.

I don’t look at them and say, “They’re totally over their skis right now.”

The Phillies know this, which made Ian Desmond‘s comments after the game very interesting. Asked how emotionally charged the game and series was, he said, “I was actually a little surprised. Usually, it seems that the Phillies aren’t that hyped up to come play us. I think they realized that they needed to step up a little bit, and that’s nice. It’s nice to have that feeling of: Hey, they’re intense over there. Usually when we play them, they’re not. And I think they realize we’ve got a good ballclub, and they needed to kind of take it up a notch. … That was a fun game to play in, a fun game to attend. Obviously the ninth inning got away from us, but I think they were still worried.”

Before he got injured last night, I thought Werth made an interesting comment. He pointed out the Phillies are playing without Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Cliff Lee right now, but the Nationals are playing without Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse. (And, of course, now Werth himself.) It’s not like the Phillies are the only team not playing at full strength. When the Nationals are at full strength they will be much improved, too. So the Phillies have to step up their play. They need to start being more consistent offensively, and figure out how they are going to work a bullpen that has been mostly scatter shot.

I look at this weekend as a wake up call for them.

One more thing: I can’t wait for the Nationals to come to Philly on May 21-23.

Good night …

*

Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here! Here are our upcoming book signings:

  • May 10: Tredyfrrin Public Library in Stafford, PA, 7:30 p.m.
  • June 2: Citizens Bank Park, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Check out my Facebook page. Follow me on Twitter.

5 Comments

Nice article. I thought it was really interesting how Cole Hamels came out and said what he said. It’s been a while since a pitcher has done that and you wonder if there will be any target on his back when he faces the Nationals the next time. I mean, good for him for stepping up and being a man about the whole thing and same with Bryce Harper for laughing it off. There’s nothing more that Harper could have done about it and if you’re going to do what Hamels did might as well be a big boy about it. Also, you think you could take a look at my blog post because I would really like to hear your thoughts http://chrisross91.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/cold-time-baseball/

Zimermann already hit Hamels back. Beef squashed. If you watch Hamels’ postgame interview, he basically praises the Nats the entire time. Bryce Harper shrugged it off, too. So, my prejudiced stance on him softened a bit. Maybe he just looks like a douche and isn’t actually one.

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Hate to say it but we may be on the wrong side of this new rivalry for the next several years. Werth got his money and is now on the up and coming team while the Phils age and fade.

Everybody knew that Hamels was sending a message, He didn’t have to say anything, and now he may get suspended.

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