Hey there, chimichangas. I’d like to offer a tip of the Joe lid to Jason Hammel. I know that seems like it came outta left field (nice baseball metaphor, huh?) but I got a reason and it’s a good one.
I’m sure that a lotta you who saw his outing yesterday against the Dodgers, and those who may still be tryin’ to block out his start in Colorado before that, might be scratchin’ your heads right now. I mean why would I salute the Hamster after two of his worst starts of the season? Well, my friend, there’s a lot more that goes into the makeup of a Major League pitcher than havin’ a Howitzer for an arm. (Although I gotta say that is pretty high up on the list.) Some of it has nothin’ to do with the first 5 tools of baseball, and a whole lot to do with the 6th. Uhh, that would be something called “class.”
So Hammel has a couple of bad games … BFD. Other than those, he’s been lights out since the break. And besides, who the hell doesn’t have bad days? Even God has ’em. How else can you explain the platypus, male pattern baldness, or Donald Trump?
Anyway, yesterday the pitch count is at 39 — a number even White Sox fans can count to — when the Hambone gets the hook. I don’t think he’d even broken a sweat when out comes Maddon like he’s Sparky Friggin’ Anderson or somethin’. Hey … don’t get me wrong. Except for havin’ grown men wearin’ PJs on plane rides, I think Joe is a baseball genius. Maybe even a god. Well not quite yet, but if we win the Series he’s gettin’ promoted to god. Anyway, Joe had his reasons for yankin’ Hammel — chief among them was that LA’s lineup was about as stacked as all 12 of last year’s Playmates of the month put together; chock full of lefties. So Joe wasn’t seein’ the planets align for Hammel. Even if Maddon was a foot taller, Hammel wasn’t gonna see eye-to-eye with Coach on this one, and you could see he was visibly pissed as he headed to the dugout.
Again, Joe is the boss, and I side with Joe (except on the idiot pajama thing). But if I’m Hammel, I’m dishin’ a super-sized 4-letter word salad to anyone within earshot as I exit, stage left. I mean it’s not like he Bill Gullickson’d the game (August 18, 1991 Gullickson throws 5 pitches — ball, home run, home run, ball, hit by pitch — and gets pulled). But I don’t think he said much of anything. He wasn’t happy, but he kept it to himself until after the game, behind closed doors. Just him and Maddon.
And that’s why I raise a frosty Old Style to the big guy — cuz unlike so many athletes today he was professional about it. He was classy. He didn’t grand stand, he didn’t make like Carlos Zambrano in the dugout, and he didn’t call up Joe Posnanski and make a federal case out of it in the newspapers. And that last part had to be tough, cuz you could practically hear the saliva drippin’ on the clubhouse carpet as the press tried to get Hammel to sensationalize the thing. Nope. He basically told ’em to shove it. Love that.
So here’s to you, Jason Hammel. That’s how it’s done.