There was a time when a man wore a mustache not out of the aching need for irony-based attention. There was a time when a man grew a mustache and cultivated his regal facial hair in a way that commanded respect, not jokes about white vans and small children or pornographic films of the 1970s.
Was it a better world? Perhaps. Maybe our lives are all worse because a guy can’t grow a mustache without his wife threatening to pack up his children and leave until that hideous lip hair is gone for good. In times like this, we need heroes. Cole Hamels might just be the hero we both need and deserve.
For all those reasons, the Philadelphia Philles need Cole Hamels to be right as rain if they hope to compete with the Nationals and the Braves for the NL East. When news trickles out that Cole Hamels experienced shoulder soreness at the end of the season and during his winter throwing program, well, people tend to freak out.
Comparing two professional athletes is a tricky business. A great deal of baggage accompanies our individual view of a player. Comparing one to another immediately forces the reader or listener into all manner of mental gymnastics, balancing what they know or feel for one player with their feelings for a second. Often the feelings are unpleasant, if the comparison is insulting or meant in a derogatory fashion.
The language we chose to compare players sets the table, attempting to provide fresh perspective on one or both men mentioned in a way that can enlighten and educate. If you want to talk about pitchers with very different track records, it is important to throw results right out the window before you begin.
Because if you attempt comparing a very excellent, about-to-be-very-rich pitcher on a five-time division champion (like Cole Hamels, for example) with a guy battling for the 4th/5th starter’s job on a fourth-place team (like…say…Brett Cecil), you are going to lose a lot of people right from the start.
According to the FOX broadcast crew, if Philadelphia Phillies starter Cole Hamels is going to find any success against the San Francisco Giants this afternoon, he’s going to have to drop a deuce. Surprisingly, the reference had nothing to do with Hamels’ pregame Metamucil intake, and everything to do with the left handed pitcher only allowing two earned runs in each of his last two starts.
The Giants have an uphill struggle on their hands though, as the Phillies lineup dropped a deuce of their own in the top of the first inning going up 2-0 on a Hunter Pence RBI single and a wild pitch from Matt Cain.
Did you know the Phillies have a really good rotation? It is true, they really do.
At this point in the season, they have the baseball’s strikeout leader (Cliff Lee) and the guy tied for second (Roy Halladay), the pitcher with the most complete games (duh), highest K/BB rate among qualified starters (duh again), the fWAR leader (you guessed it!), the top three pitchers in baseball by xFIP (lol), and the highest staff WAR in baseball.
In short, they come exactly as advertised. Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee might get the most attention given their great careers, but Cole Hamels might end up with the best year of the bunch.