Maybe he was kidding. Maybe not.

You've no doubt heard what supposedly happened in the Phillies clubhouse after Game 5. Various media outlets reported that Brett Myers made a snide comment to Cole Hamels - something on the order of "what are you still doing here? I thought you quit." Myers told two Inquirer reporters yesterday that there was no confrontation - that he and Hamels are tight and he was just messing around.

Could be. But here's the thing: Myers apparently told that same joke several times that evening in a room full of reporters. Players - like sportswriters - are notorious for busting chops. But if it was all in good fun, why crack on your boy in front of a pack of people who will turn your words into national news? It doesn't make sense.

Myers might be a knucklehead, but he's not stupid. Maybe you believe him when he says he wasn't serious, but I don't. I think Myers was ticked that Hamels said he's ready for the season to be over, and he couldn't stop himself from taking a shot at the guy.

Regardless of whether the Myers remarks were sincere, the whole thing underscores what's become painfully apparent lately: Hamels has replaced Donovan McNabb as the most scrutinized and ridiculed athlete in Philly.

Think about how far he's fallen. Hollywood was a big budget pitcher last year - the NLCS and World Series MVP. This season he's been the opposite - a box office bust on the order of Ben Affleck.

He's become a target for that, and rightly so. But, like McNabb, he's been criticized and lampooned as much for his off-field comments and demeanor as his on-field performance (or lack thereof).

In the press box recently, one of my colleagues was regaling a crowd with his impersonation of Hamels. It doesn't translate so well to print, but there was a lot of talk about being "fierce" and getting his "highlights done." The performance drew a lot of belly laughs.

People just love making fun of Hamels now. It's neverending. Maybe that's because Hamels - like McNabb, who can be a bit of a goof - isn't a traditionally Philly kind of guy. He doesn't curse like a drunken dock worker or grab his crotch when the cameras are on him, and that bothers some people. He's California smooth, and that really bothers some people.

He's easy to pick on. The traveling chiropractor. The E! True Hollywood Story. The reality-show wife. The fact that he's from sunny (some might say soft) San Diego. None of that has endeared him to gruff, gray, humorless old-school baseball fans or working- class Philadelphia.

The infamous Philadelphia magazine ads didn't win him any friends from that crowd, either. If you missed them, he and his wife and some kids (who aren't theirs) were dressed in all white while lying in bed together. Creepy. In a shocking turn of events, Deadspin pounced all over that one and ran a brutal post with this headline: "Cole Hamels continues his slow transformation into a doily."

Then there were the Internet pictures of Hamels carrying his tiny dog through Center City in a backpack and the talk of him cruising around town in a mini-van. Just more fuel for those who love to torch the guy.

I was driving to Citizens Bank Park recently when some people on WIP started ripping Hamels. They thought it was hilarious that he's not a fan of muscle cars and didn't keep the Chevy Camaro he was awarded after winning the World Series MVP. I'm not sure why that's so amusing, but they seemed to think it was a real hoot.

It's not just the faceless Internet comedians or wise- guy radio hosts and callers who riff on him, either. Keith Olbermann has a blog on MLB.com called Baseball Nerd. Here are a few lines from a particularly biting Hamels missive:

"Looking ahead: if you watch Cole Hamels pitch will you, like me, be unable to get out of your head his new commercial, and that almost munchkin-like question to the fan who comes to the mound: 'Who are yoooooo?'"

When a guy who's so bloated he looks as if he swallowed Dan Patrick back in 1997 is scoring points on you, you've sunk to impossibly low depths. But that's the way it goes for Hamels these days. He and McNabb should start a support group.

Hamels has made some aggressively dumb comments to the media lately, but he was right about one thing: the guy could use a fresh start.