ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - He is like a god, the great and mysterious Steve Carlton. All of these years later, there really is no other way to put it. You could say that he is a forever member of the Phillies' franchise pantheon, except that this does not quite do the man justice. What is above the pantheon? What?
As we ask these questions, Cole Hamels begins to join the conversation.
Curt Schilling made his name in October. He did it in Philadelphia, and in Arizona, and in Boston. He cemented his image, forever, with a bloody sock when he played for the Red Sox. It was long after his Phillies days. But it all began with a towel over his head in the dugout at Veterans Stadium in 1993, a towel on his head and big game after big game after big game on the mound.
And now, Cole Hamels enters the circle.
Game 1 of the World Series, ridiculous atmosphere, pressure beyond calculation - and Hamels shrugged. Last night, Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay Rays, an enormous game, a gigantic moment - and Hamels excelled.
He was good. He was tough. He was bailed out by a couple of double plays. He threw 102 pitches in seven innings, allowing only two runs and five hits.
Hamels and the Phillies beat the Rays in Game 1 of the Series, 3-2. Hamels and the Phillies have gone on the road and done their carpe-diem best, again.
What we are witnessing now is the birth of greatness. It sounds hokey, overdone, completely over the top - but if not that, then what? At the age of 24, Hamels has pitched his way into Phillies history. That's it. There can be no dispute.