Was That My Out-Loud Voice?

November 3

                    If you want to have a long career in radio you must — repeat, must — have a highly refined brain filter.  That filter must be on at all times.  We are just one word or one sentence away from making sandwiches at Subway.

                   ( Oops, did a write that out loud?  Apparently the filter doesn’t apply to text.  If I have offended anyone who makes sandwiches at Subway, I apologize.  I dig the Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki. )

                   Savvy professional athletes learn to use that filter at all times.  That’s why they’re cliche machines.  They learn to say all the right things, so there won’t be any blow-back.  Fortunately for those of us in the media, there’s an ample supply of un-savvy athletes.

                   Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels, a postseason hero in the Philadelphia Phillies’ World Series championship run last year, is something less than that this year.  His ERA ballooned from 3.09 to 4.32 in 2009 and his postseason is worse.  Hamels is a frustrated young man.

                   He let the frustration get the better of him in a Game 3 World Series loss.  For just a moment, his forgot to turn on the filter.  He said he “can’t wait for it to end. It’s been mentally draining.”

                  Hamels later said he would welcome a chance to redeem himself and salvage the season in a Game 7.  But it was too late.  The fire was sparked and began burning out of control.

                 Phillies reliever Brett Myers supposedly confronted him, and sports talk shows in Philly had a field day, wondering whether Hamels was quitting on his team at a critical time.  The Phillies p.r. guy later said Myers and Hamels were joking.  O … k.

                  P.R. spin or not, everyone needs to calm down.

                 Hamels was probably thinking out loud for a moment, and speaking honestly.  The long season, which began eight months ago in spring training, can be a drain.  Hamels is scuffling and questioning himself and wondering if he can summon one more good effort this year.  

                 Hamels said he is not quitting on the team, and frankly, the Phillies would have no other choice for a starting pitcher if there’s a Game 7.  He is mentally and perhaps physically fatigued, that’s abou tit.  He could be the latest example of something we’ve discussed in this blog in the past.  An under-25 pitcher with a heavy workload.

                Hamels pitched 262 innings last year including the postseason.  Many of those were high-stress innings.  He probably wouldn’t trade anything for what happened 2008 , but he might be making a balloon payment now.

               It all led to a moment of despair, or frustration, or introspection.  Whatever it was, it was caught on tape, and the media and fans ran with it.  It was an unfortunate moment on the biggest stage at a critical time of the year, but it shouldn’t define Hamels.  Unfortunately, if the Phillies’ season ends Wednesday night, it could.


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