Hunter Pence and the Philadelphia Phillies are really doing their best to make their fake rivalry with the Washington Nationals a legitimate thing. The Phillies right fielder showed up for batting practice today handing out custom designed t-shirts to his teammates, including the one and only Cole Hamels.

The Fake Tough baseball meme got started shortly after it was revealed that Hamels purposely threw a pitch at Bryce Harper the first time they faced each other. The admission created an irate general manager in Mike Rizzo, who went on the following rant:

Players take care of themselves. I’ve never seen a more classless, gutless chicken shit act in my 30 years in baseball. Cole Hamels says he’s old school? He’s the polar opposite of old school. He’s fake tough. He thinks he’s going to intimidate us after hitting our 19-year-old rookie who’s eight games into the big leagues? He doesn’t know who he’s dealing with. He thinks he’s sending a message to us of being a tough guy. He’s sending the polar opposite message. He says he’s being honest; well, I’m being honest. It was a gutless chicken shit fucking act. That was a fake-tough act. No one has ever accused Cole Hamels of being old school. This goes beyond rivalry and all that stuff. This points to, you take the youngest guy in baseball. He’s never done a thing. And then Hamels patted himself on the back. Harper’s old school. Hitting him on the back, that ain’t old school. That’s fucking chicken shit.

While it’s safe to assume we all would’ve preferred shirts that read “Fucking Chicken Shit,” the only thing that Rizzo’s rant succeeded in is giving the Phillies team something to bring them closer together. I’m not suggesting that’s going to have any tangible impact, but I will say that it’s probably best to leave the last placed team that’s four games under .500 as unmotivated as possible.

Seriously, has speaking out against the opposition in team sports ever worked for anyone? Ever?

Anyway, I guess Fake Tough is a thing now. If the Phillies were Real Tough they’d break these t-shirts out on July 31st when they travel to Washington for their next engagement with the Nationals. Hopefully, by that point there will be more to play for than pride.

Photo courtesy of Jim Salisbury of the Comcast Sportsnet.