View Photo Gallery: “I was trying to hit him,” Hamels said after his 93-mph fastball bored into Harper’s backside.

Major League Baseball suspended and fined Cole Hamels on Monday for plunking the Nationals’ Bryce Harper with a pitch, a “classless, gutless act,” according to Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo.

Or were they suspending him and fining him for admitting he plunked Bryce Harper with a pitch?

The fine — upwards of $400,.000, as calculated by Forbes — is significant; the suspension is another matter.

Cole Hamels was suspended and fined. (Greg Fiume / Getty Images)

Because he’s a pitcher and not a position player, he misses four out of every five games anyway. The suspension amounts to pushing his start back by one game, presumably, and that’s about as light as a slap on the wrist can be.

Hamels, who began serving his suspension immediately because of the Phillies’ off-day Thursday, had been scheduled to pitch again Saturday against the San Diego Padres and, although the Phillies weren’t discussing when he’ll pitch again, he’d be available Sunday. Roy Halladay would be available on his regular rest after going seven innings in the Phillies’ 5-2 loss to the Mets on Monday night.

So, see? There’s no real punishment besides a fine for Hamels — or for any pitcher, really, even if he comes clean about his intentions, the way Hamels did. (Perhaps everyone should be made to look at Sports Pickle’s Hamels gallery; that might really hurt him.) If throwing at a batter (or admitting it) is such an egregious sin, how about amending suspensions to require that pitchers miss a start?

Maybe Jim Leyland has the right idea. He said the suspension was “way, way too light.”

“If I was I was making that vote it would be a 15-game suspension, at least,” the Detroit Tigers’ manager said (via “I certainly don't have any qualms with Cole Hamels. I don't know the man. I know he's a very good pitcher, a very talented guy, but when you come out and admit it like that — that ball could have missed, hit him in the head or something else like that — and you come out and admit that, I think five games is way too light.”

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