In the midst of all the fun I had this past weekend at the Bank, on Sunday I had an epiphany about my feelings for Colbert Hamels. While arguing with a family member after filling him in on the game’s score, he immediately went off on a tirade that Cole should have been shipped off to Seattle instead of Cliff Lee. I said nothing about how fantastic Cole was that day. His lackluster 2009 was brought up; the whole “Lee is a true second” argument brought up. On and on it went; the loss automatically tacked on to Cole. Part two of my epiphany happened after reading John Gonzalez’ article in Monday’s Inquirer, “Hamels a Marked Man”, which claims that Hamels is heir to this city’s top love/hate relationship, held by the outgoing Donovan McNabb.
Both of these things had me vehemently defending the guy I’ve never been the biggest fan of. It’s not that I never appreciated the guy; his antics on and off the field make him a hard guy to root for sometimes. His success is a crucial part of the team‘s overall success. But where some may point out he is least likely to embody all that Philadelphia is; I’ll go as far as this: Cole is and always will be one of us.
Perhaps the one thing that sticks out the most in Gonzo’s article is the names listed along with Cole’s. Lindros. Iverson. Cunningham. McNabb. What did these guys ever do for Philadelphia? In Philadelphia, we judge success by Championships. And Hamels is the only one that delivered the very thing we Philadelphians complain we never get. With the start he is off to, I think we are prematurely jumping on the guy who helped put our franchise back on the map. And I’ll be the first to admit, I wrote some harsh words about Cole’s first start. But to lump him with a barrage of superstars who supposedly “never got it” and were unfairly scrutinized is not fair to Hamels. It’s unfair based on what he has already delivered and what he is capable of doing in the future. I thought about my personal dislike for the guy – and in reality, what did he ever do to me but help win the only championship I’d ever seen? And looking back on his disappointing 2009, I’m willing to finally wipe the slate clean and look forward to a promising 2010. Because at the end of the day, after reading how others may dislike him based on perception instead of reality, or hearing the argument that he should have been traded instead of Lee based solely on his 2009 performance, it really made me realize how much I liked having Cole Hamels on our team. He’s kind of the underdog now. He was there when we won it all, and for that, he will always be one of us. That makes me want to give him the benefit of the doubt that he is back. For real this time.
So yes, Gonzo, Cole Hamels is a marked man. He is the man who alone holds the mark of the 2008 World Series MVP. He marked a deprived city as Champions. And he will forever be one who helped mark the end of the losing mentality in Philadelphia sports. And if you’re wondering if I’ve gone soft? I haven’t. I just want to appreciate a good thing while its still here.