Hamels involved in video game controversy

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The biggest hit of the holidays won’t be a Roy Halladay trade. No, it will be “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2”, a new shoot-em-up video game with rockin’ graphics and a great multiplayer feature set to hit store shelves on Tuesday in PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 formats.

It’s expected to bring in half a BILLION dollars in the first week alone. So yeah, Roy could buy the Blue Jays with that kind of cash. So what does any of this have to do with baseball? Plenty, actually.

There is some controversy around the game, all of it outlined nicely below by my Msnbc.com colleague Todd Kenreck.


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Among the issues creating a stir is a viral video that was released by the game’s creator featuring none other than Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels. In the video, a pixilated Hamels emerges from a humvee, dressed in military gear and a Phillies cap.

He goes on what seems like a light-hearted rant against “random grenades”, but then drops a couple of curse words as he is blown up by some of the very items he despises.

The language in itself doesn’t seem like much of a big deal unless you let young children play these games and surf the web at will, which would be your own fault.

But then the video ends with a “brought to you by” message that contains a thinly veiled homophobic slur. As Kenreck reports, the video was pulled amid concerns that it “promoted hate speech in the gaming community,” but it of course lives on at YouTube. (Watch it here, unless your ears are sensitive)

Not sure what I think about the seriousness of this. The video is light-hearted in tone, but does it go too far? One thing for sure: this isn’t the kind of publicity Hamels needs. Not after his performances in the playoffs.

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks. For more baseball news, go to NBCSports.com.

CC Sabathia checking into an alcohol rehab center

sabathia getty

This is totally unexpected and definitely unfortunate: The New York Yankees just released a statement from CC Sabathia saying that he is checking himself into an alcohol rehabilitation center.

Sabathia, who was involved in a relatively minor incident outside a nightclub back in August, has battled injuries and ineffectiveness for the past three seasons but has, in his last few starts, shown himself to be effective, even if he’s not to the level he once was. And, should the Yankees advance past the Wild Card game, one would have assumed that the Yankees would’ve been counting on him for the playoff rotation. Now, however, that seems both doubtful and completely superfluous.

And for what it’s worth, Sabathia’s statement, just released by the Yankees, suggests that he is aware of the need to get his priorities in order:

“Today I am checking myself into an alcohol rehabilitation center to receive the professional care and assistance needed to treat my disease.

“I love baseball and I love my teammates like brothers, and I am also fully aware that I am leaving at a time when we should all be coming together for one last push toward the World Series. It hurts me deeply to do this now, but I owe it to myself and to my family to get myself right. I want to take control of my disease, and I want to be a better man, father and player.

“I want to thank the New York Yankees organization for their encouragement and understanding. Their support gives me great strength and has allowed me to move forward with this decision with a clear mind.

“As difficult as this decision is to share publicly, I don’t want to run and hide. But for now please respect my family’s need for privacy as we work through this challenge together.

“Being an adult means being accountable. Being a baseball player means that others look up to you. I want my kids — and others who may have become fans of mine over the years — to know that I am not too big of a man to ask for help. I want to hold my head up high, have a full heart and be the type of person again that I can be proud of. And that’s exactly what I am going to do.

“I am looking forward to being out on the field with my team next season playing the game that brings me so much happiness.”

Here’s hoping Sabathia deals with whatever problems he’s facing and comes out healthy on the other end.

Diamondbacks fire pitching coach Mike Harkey

Oliver Perez, Mike Harkey
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Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the Diamondbacks have fired pitching coach Mike Harkey following a season in which the staff ranked ninth among NL teams in runs allowed.

That actually represents a big improvement from last season, when the Diamondbacks allowed the second-most runs in the league in Harkey’s first year as pitching coach, but the Tony La Russa-led front office has decided to make a change.

Prior to joining the Diamondbacks two offseasons ago Harkey served as the Yankees’ bullpen coach from 2008-2013. He pitched eight seasons in the majors.