We all know that Bryce Harper can be a hot head at times. Do we need to bring up the fact that he slammed a bat into a wall and hit himself in the face? But he is young and plays with his heart on his sleeve, and this is why we love him. I am never really the one to take the side of a player when he gets ejected, but when I look at the video again, I have to say Harper did nothing out of the ordinary then any other player arguing strikes.
So let’s lay out what happened. Harper was in a 2-2 count in the first inning. Wandy Rodriguez threw him a curveball and Harper checked his swing. The home plate umpire did not make a call, so an appeal was made down to the third base umpire, John Hirschbeck. Hirschbeck called Harper out on strikes.
Here is where the problem starts. After the call Bryce Harper throws his hands and his bat up in the air in disgust. Right when that happened Hirschbeck begins to yell at Harper and walks toward him. Harper yelled back and threw his bat on the ground. Hirschbeck point at Harper, and then Harper threw his helmet on the ground. Davey Johnson sprinted out of the dugout right as Hirschbeck ejected Harper.
“I didn’t like that he put his hands up with the bat,” Hirschbeck said. “That’s kind of what I yelled at him. He continued and threw his bat. I kind of pointed like, ‘That’s equipment.’ And then, he still continued and slammed his helmet down. That’s when I ejected him. I was actually just being nice. Even the hands up in the air is showing me up, to me. I could have ejected him right then. I was nice enough to leave him in the game. And then he slammed his bat down. And then on top of that, he slammed his helmet. I had no other recourse, really.”
Again we don’t know what was exactly said, but I really just don’t see what Harper did that was overwhelming. Harper did not address any questions about the ejection after the game. Harper just said he was glad he did not cost the team a win. I feel what happened here was an umpire in his 29th year not wanting to be shown up by a 20-year old phenom of a player. After making the call I feel Hirschbeck could have just turned around when he saw Harper was not happy with the call and this would have saved everyone in the situation. Again I am not condoning Harper’s behavior, but I feel that emotions run high and egos can get large so maybe we need to sit back and understand its not personal.
But there was an upside in the ejection of Bryce Harper. He got an unexpected day off to rest his bruised ribs and the emotion of the ejection got the Nationals bats to wake up. If we have lost the game I feel this article would have been very different. And I hope that Harper will take this as a learning experience and understands he is the best player on the team and the team needs him in the lineup.