Bryce Harper, right fielder for the Washington Nationals, is a good player on his way to being a great player. He was the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year, he’s playing the best ball of his career, and he has ALREADY been twice named the National League Player of The Week by MLB. And it’s May. Wow.
That being said, Harper is also known to be somewhat of a hellion. In addition to being on a hitting hot streak, Harper’s also earned a reputation at times for being a hot head, which has now in some way contributed to two ejections during that same stretch.
Since launching three home runs against the New York Mets on May 6th, Harper has been baseball’s hottest hitter. Over a 12-game stretch that began that afternoon leading up until Wednesday’s game against the New York Yankees, Harper hit .535/.630/1.349 with 10 home runs and 23 RBIs over 54 plate appearances. Not too shabby.
But for the second time in a week, Bryce Harper and Manager Matt Williams were ejected from a game for an exchange with an umpire. The first came on May 13th, when Harper’s temper clearly got the best of him following a strikeout in Arizona. Following the ejection, Harper launched into a heated tirade against home-plate umpire Rob Drake.
And I witnessed a similar scene play out last night at the ‘ole Ball Game. Harper was mad at a strike call and mad when Home Plate Umpire Marvin Hudson told him to get back in the batter’s box. Harper, being the head case that he sometimes can be, stuck just his BIG TOE in the box, which irked Hudson to no end and caused the ejection. The funny thing is, Harper was in the box until Hudson turned his attention to the Washington dugout. Either way, there doesn’t seem to be nearly enough here to warrant an ejection, but Hudson clearly took Harper’s maneuvering as a dismissal of his authority.
In this case, Hudson could have easily squashed the problem without letting it escalate. By the same token, Harper may have baited a bit by not just getting back in the box. You can find fault in how both men handled the confrontation, but here’s hoping both will be wiser the next time they’re in this position.
But here’s why Harper REALLY got ejected. He said this after the game:
I don’t think 40,000 people came to watch him ump tonight,” Harper said after his fifth career ejection. “Plain and simple. Especially when we’re playing the Yankees. The Yankees are a good team, we’re a good team and we’re rolling. I don’t want to get tossed. There’s no reason for me to get tossed in that situation. I don’t think I did anything bad to get tossed. Maybe he just had a bad morning or he didn’t get his coffee.
So there. It’s as plain as day and as the nose on your face. If you’re a logical and reasonable and sensible person, you don’t have to be an old-fashioned fart to understand that Harper’s hubbub and hullabaloo helmed from his line of thinking, and his lack of logic is EXACTLY why he got tossed. Harper has an attitude problem. His taunting of the ump by sticking just his big toe into the batter’s box was a clear dismissal and disdain of authority. And, being the Millennial that he is, Harper didn’t see anything wrong with the taunt and the tease.
So let’s learn the lesson. Use wisdom. Don’t make matters worse. Don’t make an ugly situation uglier, a dumb situation dumber, or a sticky situation stickier. Don’t make a dim situation darker. Don’t make a harsh situation harder. And don’t make a difficult situation utterly intractable. Don’t do it. You may want to, but in the end, you’ll wish you hadn’t.