Considering all that's happened this year, it can be easy to forget that this superb left-hander recently decided to continue wearing his red Phillies' cap.
A big deal
We will never know how close the Phillies were to actually ending their relationship with Hamels. It could be that general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. (with the obvious approval of the team's ownership group) never intended to allow his young star to leave.
Long-time fans are very familiar with seeing various foundational players disappear. During a time when the Phillies portrayed themselves as a non-big market team, they must have believed that they were in some type of middle-market. With whatever past mentality ruled, the birth of Citizens Bank Park made the current era possible.
A new stadium should create an initial money pop, but doesn't guarantee the creation of a permanent slush fund. Fortunately, after opening the stadium in 2004, the Phillies were able to defeat the Tampa Bay Rays to win the World Series in 2008. That monumental event, along with continued reinvestment actions, has kept the coffers full through this season.
Philadelphia's hefty bank account balance is part of the reason why Hamels could be offered that six-year, $144 million contract extension in late July. Another piece of the money pie also involves the Phillies' future plans.
Striving for permanent success
No team is going to be great every season, regardless of how large their payroll's shadow appears to be. But, having money can help to repair strategical wounds. So, the Phillies must believe that they should be able to remain competitive with any opponent (during most seasons) into the foreseeable future.
Like most loyalists, I have valued every start that Hamels has made since he extended his financial relationship. We all know that he would have remained rich, no matter what his final decision would have been. It's also true that he and his family clearly wanted to continue living well in Philadelphia.
Keeping that player in the fold stabilized the current pitching rotation. It should also allow for any short-term disappointments to be seen through the lens of realistically renewed hopes next season.
Sean O'Brien's professional writing career began in 1990, when he first began working in the Philadelphia Phillies farm system. He was a freelance sports writer for five years and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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