PHILADELPHIA — Charlie Manuel, the Philadelphia Phillies’ 68-year-old manager, played his last major league game in 1975. He said Monday he remembers old-school baseball as going 4 for 4 and then getting knocked down by a pitch in your fifth at-bat, or falling behind two strikes and then knowing a brushback pitch was coming if you dug into the box.
“That’s what old-school baseball was about,” Manuel said before Monday’s Phillies game against the visiting New York Mets. “But evidently, we definitely don’t play that way no more.”
An evening earlier in the visitor’s clubhouse at Nationals Park, Phillies starter Cole Hamels said he was trying to preserve old-school baseball when he plunked Bryce Harper with a 93-mph fastball in the first inning.
Washington Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo fired back Monday, labeling Hamels as “gutless” and “fake tough.”
Hamels had no response to Rizzo’s comments before Monday’s game. As he finished tying his cleats before batting practice, locker mate and fellow left-hander Cliff Lee told members of the media that Hamels, 28, would not be speaking to reporters.
An hour later, Hamels received a five-game suspension from the league and did not appeal.
“He can be a little bit more discreet about it or a little bit less honest,” Manuel said about Hamels’s willingness to admit the pitch was intentional. “Baseball is going to take care of it the way you take care of it, that is between the two teams.”
On Sunday night, following Hamels’s plunking of Harper, Nationals pitcher Jordan Zimmermann hit Hamels with a pitch in his first plate appearance. The one-for-one retribution is old school, Manuel said.
Similarly, Manuel said it used to be commonplace for a touted prospect, such as Harper, to receive a few inside pitches during his first time around. Those pitches were a hope to put a “little fear” in the batter, Manuel said. “That’s what it was about, that was kind of the reason to do it.”
The bean ball to Harper’s ribs might have sparked a rivalry that seemed to be one-sided. Several Nationals players said the Phillies had taken them lightly in recent seasons. Manuel said the Nationals are a good team that’s full of life and “are what baseball’s about.”
He hoped the apparent enmity resulting from the incident would make the Phillies play better. The Nationals have won seven of their last eight meetings with the Phillies.
Philadelphia General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. had no response to Rizzo’s remarks, but said he was disappointed in Hamels’s on-field actions. The two spoke and Amaro said the conversation was “fine.”
“As far as how the Phillies are going to conduct ourselves, we like to try and take the high roads on these types of things,” Amaro said. “By no means are we condoning trying to endanger another player.”
The Phillies entered Monday in last place in the National League East, 41 / 2 games behind the first-place Nationals.
“They were spanking us pretty good,” Amaro said. “They’re a good, young, solid ballclub and they’re the best club in the National League East right now. So we’re going to have to play well to fight and win this division.”
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