It’s been a shit year for Bryce Harper, measured against expectations, and even aside from the Nationals being an even bigger disappointment than usual. He came on in the second half, but he’s still gonna finish the year batting around or below .250, and with a growing reputation as a guy who can be neutralized by the shift.
He is going to be paid something like $350 million this offseason, which in all likelihood will start in just 10 days, and I’m guessing that will make him feel a lot better about his relative bummer of a year. But while he’s still playing out the string on this lost season, he’s evidently got some rage stored away from all the disappointment, and all the confrontations he hasn’t had with umpires. Harper was tossed in the 12th inning Thursday night for arguing balls and strikes, and just let it all come rushing out:
Paul Sewald painted the inside corner with a little help from catcher Kevin Plawecki, and Harper made a big show of his disappointment with the call. Probably that alone wasn’t enough to get him ejected, but it certainly seems to have pricked up the ears of umpire D.J Reyburn, who ejected Harper on his way back to the dugout. You can clearly hear Harper screaming “I didn’t say a fucking word,” but it’s also very obvious on the video that he did say a word, over his shoulder, immediately before he was tossed. It’s hard to guess what that word might’ve been, but it was evidently more than Reyburn was interested in allowing.
Bryce explained after his run-in with Laz Diaz over the weekend that he’d set as a goal for this season that he would not be ejected from any games, saying in Saturday’s postgame “that’s my biggest thing this year, I don’t wanna get tossed.” He’d been tossed 10 times in his career before this season, but was apparently persuaded by Davey Martinez to stay in games and let Martinez do the arguing for him, based on the rationale that the Nationals are better with Harper in the game. This one didn’t count much, in that regard—the Nationals were down a run in the 12th, and lost the game four pitches later.
Probably part of why Harper went ballistic on Reyburn has to do with this heave-ho putting the kibosh on one of Harper’s last remaining attainable goals for 2018. There’s still this, I guess: Harper’s sitting on 97 runs batted in with nine games left on the schedule, giving him a decent shot at topping 100 RBI for the first time in his career. When your team’s season is fully a bag of turds, the dipshit individual goals are all that’s left.