Bryce Harper was ejected for the second time in one week Wednesday, this after protesting a strike call by umpire Marvin Hudson and apparently taking too long to return to the batter’s box.
In hindsight, both men were probably at fault. Harper didn’t have to express his displeasure, and Hudson didn’t have to have such a short fuse.
“It’s one of those things,” MLB Network analyst Cliff Floyd said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “Bryce, at this point right now, is the best player in baseball. You have to tame that. You have to put yourself in position where you give them zero chance to put you in a predicament where you’re going into the showers before the game is over. Period. We saw it in Arizona. We saw it yesterday. I just think everything needs to chill out and let him be who he is on the field. The fans come out to see him play. It’s not a good luck for nobody. It’s not a good look.
“I just think we got to get back to just the basics of what he’s been doing,” Floyd continued. “That’s what I want to talk about. I do not feel like talking about an ejection, an umpire and what happened and what transpired – because we’re sitting there trying to read the mouths of these guys and we don’t know what the heck is coming out. I think that’s the bottom line. Let’s talk about how unbelievably good this dude has been for the last 15, 16 days.”
Harper hit .535 with 10 home runs and 23 RBIs in 54 plate appearances during a scintillating 12-game stretch. The Nationals still beat the Yankees, 3-2, Wednesday, but Harper is not someone you want out of the lineup right now.
The 22-year-old didn’t take too kindly to the ejection, saying that 40,000 people didn’t come to the game to watch Hudson ump and that maybe he “had a bad morning” or “didn’t get his coffee.”
Floyd, a former All-Star and World Series champion, had a few brush-ups with umpires during the course of his 17-year major league career, but there was one that got to him more than any other.
“Mine was Angel Hernandez,” Floyd said. “I said the same thing back in the day to his face: ‘Angel, listen, no fan is paying to watch you umpire – unless your family is in the stands.’ And as disrespectful as it is – it is disrespectful – it gets to that point. That’s my point to you guys right now. It’s never about the conversation you’re having with the umpire. All it should be is, ‘Hey, how you doing? Let’s go, and let’s play this game between the white lines.’ That’s what it’s all about. The issues you have, they escalate.”
And they might come back to bite you down the road. Any bad blood between Hudson and Harper is bad for Harper.
“Now (Hudson) has a chip on his shoulder,” Floyd said. “He has control of the game when you think about it.”
Fast-forward to the next time Harper steps inside the batter’s box with Hudson behind the plate. Hudson might his expand his strike zone a little bit, just to stick it to Harper for standing him up.
“It’s going to put you in a predicament where you’re going to swing at everything,” Floyd said. “And now you’re going 0-4 and everybody’s disappointed.”