Don't penalize honesty
Los Angeles Times
Intent can be notoriously difficult to determine — unless, that is, a pitcher admits his intent, as Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels did.
"Come see our headhunting pitchers" is not the best advertisement for baseball, so Hamels, like any other pitcher admitting intent, should have been suspended. The league already suspends pitchers deemed to throw at batters with intent, no matter what the pitcher says.
The question is whether Hamels should have received a harsher suspension than a pitcher who does not admit his intent, even when the intent is so obvious that the league suspends the pitcher anyway. The answer is no. Why an additional punishment for the honesty?
Credit Cole Hamels for his NASCAR-like honesty in admitting that he hit Bryce Harper in the name of old-school baseball. However, Hamels' admission cost him plenty. Because Roger Goodell is sitting down the Bountygate bad guys for full seasons, Major League Baseball had to flex its own muscle and show the proper amount of concern for its personnel.
MLB, though, overreacted just because the NFL has gotten tough. In fact, these encounters are often best policed by the players themselves without interference from the umpires or Bud Selig. The threat of a four-seamer in the ribs will always serve as more of a deterrent than a five-game suspension.
It's part of the game
This is one area in which baseball's hierarchy simply should not meddle.
There is a delicate balance between hitter and pitcher that sometimes needs adjustments, such as lowering the mound, to swing the pendulum back to the middle. But the advantage has swung in favor of the hitters, and further "cracking down" on pitching inside would only make that worse.
I am not condoning throwing at a hitter's head. But reading intent can be difficult, and the ability to make a hitter uncomfortable is among a pitcher's most valuable weaponry.
So a little of the traditional gamesmanship should be tolerated, with tougher penalties coming only when things get out of hand.
Stupid all around
Throwing inside is a part of baseball, and pitchers who want to survive must work inside, which means sometimes signals are sent about the hitter's comfort or lack thereof.
But it's not OK to just drill a kid because he's a kid or whatever Cole Hamels was thinking, and the truly unforgivable part about it is to publicly announce your intentions.
That's about as stupid as suspending a starting pitcher five games and letting the suspension begin the day after a start, as MLB did with Hamels. This has zero impact on his team, which makes it different from other suspensions. Bad idea.