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Is Honesty Always the Best Policy?

May 12, 2012 - Al Stephenson
Well, is it? Most would agree that being honest is, under normal circumstances, indeed the best course of action. Obviously we do not always follow that course and maybe we shouldn't. Let me explain.

We have all told lies. It may have been a little white one or the proverbial whopper, but who amongst us has not had occasion to, "at the very least", distort the facts. We can always go back to having children. We told them about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Those are perfectly acceptable fabrications. You can also look at "that" question where the wife asks "does this dress make my rear look fat" as in the Abraham Lincoln TV commercial.

Poor Abe. He did not realize that sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. Some situations cry for a lie. If you are a soldier captured by the enemy and they want to know which way your outfit went, most people would be incensed if you gave an honest answer.

So where am I going with this? How about to the pitcher's mound where Philadelphia Phillies left hander Cole Hamels felt compelled to welcome Bryce Harper to the big leagues. Hamels stuck one in Harper's ribs. Not that big a deal, you say? Had Hamels been a little less honest after the game, it would not have been a deal at all, let alone a big one. Let's review.

Harper is a rookie with the Washington Nationals. In his brief professional career he has been in the limelight. He was caught jawing with a pitcher as he circled the bases after hitting a home run. Hamels apparently took note of that incident. More significantly, Harper embarrased Hamels by stealing home against him. With runners on first and third, Hamels threw over to first. Harper broke from third and beat the first baseman's throw to the plate, leaving Hamels on the mound with a little egg on his face.

Next time up, Harper was drilled. He went to first without incident although National fans were very unhappy. In the National League pitcher's do bat and guess what happened to Hamels when he came up. Yep, he got plunked and again he went to first without incident. The matter should have been over. Baseball's unwritten rules had been observed and the whole thing would have been over and done had Hamels not been honest.

After the game, reporters asked Hamels if he had hit Harper intentionally. Inexplicably he admitted to doing so. What was he thinking? Everyone knew it was intentional and Hamels could have denied it or at the very least ignored the question. Instead he suggested that he was "old school" and Harper had it coming. Major League baseball was not happy. Cole Hamels was suspended for seven days (not so big a deal for a starting pitcher) at least partially because of the concern for player injuries in all sports right now. He was also suspended for essentially being honest.

It reminds me of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. at Bristol a few years ago. He was in danger of being lapped when his crew chief came on the radio and suggested the team could benefit from a caution flag. Jr. came back with "I'm working on it" before he intentionally looped his car a couple of laps later, bringing out that much needed caution. When Nascar learned of the radio communications, Earnhardt was punished for his actions.

The view from my seat suggests that Cole Hamels should consider being less than honest the next time a situation like this arises. If it does happen again, he should field the question by breaking out into song. I can hear him now. Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus...


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