The consensus last night was that Bryce Harper, best baseball player this season, should not have been ejected by the plate umpire in his second plate appearance. The theme was that 40,000 (actually 37,648) fans did not attend the Yankee game in Washington to see the umpires. They wanted to see their home town star and the Yankees.
I disagree. No, I don't think fans show up to see the umpires. But I agree with one lone voice late on the MLB Network who suggested that the incident could be turned around, that those 40,000 fans should have been considered by Bryce Harper and that Harper would not have been ejected had he conducted himself properly.
Let's consider stuff from two recent posts.
Yankees in Washington: where are the Senators? And Joe Hardy? Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Middle-aged ... long-suffering fan of the pathetic Washington Senators baseball team ... gives up his soul ... (to) become "Joe Hardy," the young slugger the Senators need
For Joe Hardy read Bryce Harper.
Pace of play reform failed but is acceptable to owners. Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Somewhere the sun is shining
Somewhere children shout
But there is no joy in Mudville
Might Casey steps out (of the batter's box after every damn pitch!) ...
What the heck?
It's the same pointless jerking around that slowly became an integral part of baseball during the 22 mind numbing years that Allan Huber "Bud" Selig sucked the life out of what was left of baseball after Bowie Kuhn had gotten through with it.
Last night I had two TVs going and was not fully paying attention to the Yankee game. I had the Mets - Cardinals on TV 2 until the Cards broke it open and by then the Cleveland - Atlanta NBA playoff game was starting.
The ump called the first pitch to Harper a strike. No one is permitted to ague balls and strikes. That's a very old rule that is enforced sporadically. People on the Washington bench had protested the strike call and the plate ump yelled at them as he walked towards the dugout. Harper walked away from the plate. The ump clearly ordered Harper back in the batter's box. Harper then moved towards the box and put one foot on the line while saying something. My guess was that Harper had said, OK I'm back in the box. You know, the idiotic one foot in the box protocol. The umpire interpreted that as defiance and ejected Harper.
Here's the long version of Harper talking about getting ejected by Marvin Hudson.
It contains pretty much what had guessed watching it on TV. Harper showed too much attitude and was penalized. At the very least he should have realized that even if he was not upset, the plate umpire obviously was. Harper's statements to the ump were insensitive and/or inflammatory. What the heck was Harper thinking? Sure, the ump is supposed to be the adult but adults sometimes get agitated. When that happens, kids generally realize it and behave themselves. Or how about simply behaving yourself all the time?
Harper committed two violations:
1. He stepped out, walked away and did not return when ordered.
2, He mocked the umpire.
The ump could have taken another approach: signal to the pitcher to pitch and call anything close a strike. Hey, Harper was claiming that he had returned to the box.
This is exactly the mess that I predicted in spring training, that Manfred, the A-Rod Slayer, was not enforcing the pace of play rules and that players would quickly slip back into their old non-entertaining bad habits. What happened to Harper could have happened to any player. In fact, many marginal players take a very long time to jerk around between pitches.
There was consolation for Washington Nationals fans. The Nats beat the Yanks 3-2. Bonus: after the first two Yankees made out in the 9th, light hitting shortstop Didi Gregorious got his second hit of the game. Then Alex Rodriguez pinch hit for the Yankee pitcher. How quaint. Rodriguez was called out on a 0-2 pitch that appeared to be inside. Rodriguez objected a bit, then left with a good natured grin of resignation on his face. The fans seemed very entertained.