Ace. National League Championship Series most valuable player. World Series most valuable player. Center City resident. Cali kid. Entrepreneur. Celebrity. There isn’t much Cole Hamels isn’t, so we at Phillies Nation wanted to find out what else Hamels was about.
We asked Cole some questions, and he answered them. Here is the interview, and be sure to check out www.colehamels.com for more about our ace left-hander.
PN: Okay, no baiting: Seriously, how do you feel about the New York Mets?
Hamels: The Mets are a good organization with really talented players and finally, a new stadium. It makes the game better when you have two really good teams playing each other with great fans watching. Philly fans are the best. I can’t wait for this year’s games against them. Baseball needs rivalries.
PN: Chipper Jones recently said the back and forth between Phils and Mets players (citing you) was childish. What’s your take?
Hamels: Chipper Jones is a great baseball player. I have a lot of respect for him, and he can say anything he wants.
PN: So you want to win 20 games. And a Cy Young. And pitch a no-hitter. Those are the three things left, right? Which is most likely this season?
Hamels: I would like to win 20 games. With that Cy Youngs come and no-hitters just happen.
PN: Were you even a little nervous pitching the clinching game of the World Series?
Hamels: I wasn’t nervous to pitch game five because I still knew that we had three games to win the World Series. It makes it easier to put games in that perspective even though I wanted to win it when I pitched.
PN: Do you have individual pitching goals for 2009? Working on any individual pitches more than others? Working on any new pitches?
Hamels: Most of my new goals always start with me being able to pitch every possible start and to amass 200-plus innings. You can’t affect your wins because it has to be the team that … scores the runs, but if I can keep my ERA below 3.50 you’re doing something right.
PN: Some of your critiques have said the curveball isn’t as strong. Do you think that’s true? How confident are you in your curve?
Hamels: My curveball sucks. I’m still trying to prefect it. I think it might take my entire career to figure it out, but I will always keep trying.
PN: Jamie Moyer has always had success against the Marlins and teams that are usually younger and more aggressive. Is that true for you? Does it seem hitters have a harder time beating you when they barely see you, or are younger (such as the Rays)?
Hamels: I believe it is true that you will have success more often than not against a team that hasn’t seen you, vs. teams that have. With slowing down the game — a.k.a. the change up — you will be able to have success against aggressive hitters.
PN: Tell us about the Cole Hamels Foundation.
Hamels: First it’s the Hamels Foundation, because my wife is the biggest part of it. The foundation is dedicated to instilling a community-based approach in education based on providing assistance to inner-city schools in the United States, including but not limited to providing stimulating learning environments, educational programs, as well as provisions. As kindred spirits our global commitment extends to the awareness and elimination of HIV/AIDS through women’s empowerment and education in Malawi, one of the poorest and most impoverished nations. Critical intervention with orphaned children to break the cycle of disease and poverty in which they have been too long trapped is our primary intent. I hope that helps explain it.
PN: Pat Burrell was partial to the Irish Pub, but where will you hang out now that you’re living in Center City?
Hamels: Whoever has the coldest and best-tasting beer!
Here are some questions the Nation posed to Cole, and his answers:
Out of all the games you pitched in the 2008 regular season, is there one that stands out or that you really cherish?
Hamels: The one game that stands out the most is the game against Atlanta where I gave up 9 runs in the 4th inning. I didn’t act myself and therefore wasn’t able to get out of the inning, almost causing us to lose (we scored nine in the bottom of the fourth). I look at failure as your best way to judge yourself, and how you prepared and performed.
One of the challenges of being the ace is that you tend to face off against the other team’s strongest pitcher, as well. Is that going to hurt your goal to make 20 wins?
Hamels: I think when you’re able to pitch against the best the other team has to offer you really find out how good you are. You cant let your guard down, making you play better. I like the challenge, and when I win 20 it will be worth it!
Thanks to Cole for taking the time to answer our questions.