This past Monday night, Bryce Harper, the reigning NL MVP, was ejected while in the dugout during the 9th inning. This was due to a third strike called by umpire Brian Knight on the Nats’ batter Danny Espinosa.
This, however, is not the main reason Harper received so much attention and criticism. He was tossed right away, and nobody blinked an eye. Guys get thrown out all the time, and it’s sometimes even entertaining. This is especially true when it is in the bottom of the ninth and has no immediate effects on the game.
The Nationals went on to win the game on a walk-off, and while the team celebrated, into the frame ran Bryce Harper, despite the MLB’s rules of ejected players returning to the field. At first he just seemed like just another player jumping and enjoying his team’s win, but then he turned around and pointed a finger straight at Brian Knight and used “a couple choice words” to quote Mr. Harper himself. We all can make out what he said.
Bryce Harper got ejected from the dugout, then came out & gave the ump a "f*** you" during Nats walk off celebration pic.twitter.com/6O0bgcM02k
— Baseball Fam (@ShtBallPlayrsDo) May 10, 2016
Following this taunt, Harper received a one game suspension and undisclosed fine from the MLB. Did he really deserve it?
In my mind, he did not. Although you could make the argument that he was suspended for entering the field after a suspension, it was clearly due to his choice of language and attempt at “showing up” the umpire.
He should have received the punishment he was given, and I support his current appeal. Yes, it is strange for fans to see this side of the game, however you cannot deny it exists. In fact, there probably has never been a player/coach altercation with an umpire that has been swear free.
I believe that Harper was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and happened to get caught on camera saying things that are often uttered on the diamond.
However, if the MLB was more consistent in issuing these suspensions, many people’s opinions could be different, including mine. Had the MLB been suspending every player to exhibit this temper and reaction, I would be fine with Harper’s suspension. Sadly, this is not the case, as just a few days earlier David Ortiz had this reaction after returning to the field after being ejected, without and suspension or a fine.
This umpire won't sleep for a week after this https://t.co/XMOvf64r9s
— Baseball Fam (@ShtBallPlayrsDo) May 7, 2016
So was Harper coming onto the field after being ejected the difference? If so, by simple logic you could assume that MLB just suspended Harper one game and handed down a suspension because he came back onto the field after being tossed? Not much precedent there, so hard to tell.
Long story short, had the MLB been ejecting and fining players for every single swear and every single flip out, I would be all for his suspension, but due to the lack of consistency, Bryce Harper should not have to sit out of a future game.