Washington Nationals Bryce Harper ejected in latest player-umpire dustup

  • David Whitlock

A week after the Tampa Bay Rays and home plate umpire Tom Hallion got into a game disagreement resulting in an ejection for Rays P Jeremy Hellickson, followed by a Price twitter tirade, followed by Price and Hallion reportedly being fined, 20-year-old Bryce Harper was in primadonna form was ejected by what seemed to be a more-aggressive-than-usual John Hirschbeck in the first inning of Sunday’s Washington Nationals game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, both sides seemed to be looking for more trouble than they had to be:

With two outs and none on, Harper tried to check his swing on a 2-2 curveball from Pirates starter Wandy Rodriguez. The Pirates appealed to Hirschbeck, the third base umpire, who rang up Harper. “He made the right call,” [Nationals manager Davey] Johnson said.

Harper raised his hands in protest, with the bat over his head. Hirschbeck, in his 29th season as an MLB umpire, started yelling at Harper and walking toward him. Home plate umpire Bob Davidson chimed in from behind.  Harper appeared to yell back at Hirschbeck and threw his bat on the ground. Hirscbeck pointed at Harper, who then threw his helmet. As Johnson sprinted out of the dugout, Hirschbeck ejected the 20-year-old slugger.

Credit: AP

Credit: AP
Johnson comes out to argue his young slugger’s case

Yes, Hirschbeck has been umpiring games for 9 years longer than Harper has been breathing.  Let’s face it, you can’t throw your equipment in response to an umpire unless you’re looking for an early shower.  The young Harper also has to understand that he is being selfish in the protest, it wasn’t a pitch that was going to decide the at bat in his favor, nor a likely a scoring situation.  The team player expresses his displeasure with a short verbal, but civil discussion, and walks back to the dugout with a chip on his shoulder for hit next at bat.

Hirschbeck is an MLB veteran umpire and certainly had an opportunity to take a higher road, as Davey Johnson pointed out:

“I got on John a little bit,” Johnson said. Harper is “young temperamentally. [Hirschbeck] didn’t have to walk toward him. … I just told John, ‘Call him and out then turn around. Don’t keep looking at him.’ ”

Here is the video courtesy of MLB.com

Harper seemed to have settled down after 3 hours in the clubhouse, and would only reference his teams win and not comment on the dust up.  Damage control if nothing else, according to Dan Kolko of MASN:

Speaking in a calm tone after the game, Harper chose to stay out of the fray, repeatedly saying he was happy his ejection didn’t end up costing the Nats a win.

“I’m not sure,” Harper said, when asked what happened. “I’m just glad we got the W and I wasn’t the reason we didn’t.

“I really don’t have much to say on it. I’m not going to badmouth anybody or say anything I shouldn’t say. Like I said, I’m glad we got the W today.”

An irony for both the Nationals and Rays in these two brouhaha’s, they won the games.

-Dave (@lhd_on_sports)

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About The Author

David Whitlock

David Whitlock - manager

David (a.k.a. Longhorndave or lhd_on_sports) joined the staff late in the 2012 season and moved to Site Manager in early 2013. A lifelong Houston Astros fan (and mini-season ticket holder for 9 years) he attends 20+ games per year. A statistics freak, David still keeps score the "old fashioned way" on occasion (and has kept manual score of World Series games since 1986 and retains the sheets). He was a featured guest weekly on the Phil Naessens Show. He is also a Texas Longhorns alumnus and huge football and baseball fan of his alma mater. When he isn't watching or writing about baseball, he works as a contractor at NASA Johnson Space Center. He lives by the mantra "a bad day at the ballpark is better than a good day anywhere else."

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