For the most part, Bryce Harper has avoided controversy since his call-up. But whether he likes it or not the Nationals’ rookie all-star is guaranteed to be the focus of attention wherever the team travels.
For better — and often worse — the spotlight in Miami generally belongs to manager Ozzie Guillen. And in Sunday’s inter-division clash with the Nats, Guillen’s tantrum over the amount of pine tar on Harper’s bat succeeded in getting the skipper back into the headlines — for better or worse.
Post columnist Thomas Boswell addressed the incident in his Monday morning chat.
Q: So, how much pine tar was on Harper’s bat? Shouldn’t Guillen have been arguing that question with the umpires, rather than with Harper? Or is Guillen just as much of a tool as his reputation suggests?
Boz: Ozzie is the contemporary Billy Martin, though not even half as bad. But still Guillen is a pretty lousy guy in my book. Ozzie is all about Ozzie.
Guillen is losing his grip on that Miami team and it's an easy team to lose. He's still annoyed that Harper showed up the left side of his $100M+ infield in the first inning on Friday night. Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez, both having poor seasons on huge contracts, were chatting in the infield while the pitcher rubbed up the ball on the mound — and Harper stole third while they were napping between pitches. It personified the way the Marlins are seen this year in their new stadium.
Ozzie apparently tried to upset Harper by protesting the pine tar on his bat — as if. The next time up, it's possible Harper pointed his bat at Guillen or the Marlins dugout, but he does that before every at bat. Did he look up as he did it, while he usually doesn't?
Here's what’s interesting. Guillen tried to get into Harper's head. Harper, 19, got into his. Then Harper made the sliding catch on a foul fly, while colliding with Lombardozzi, to end the game with the bases loaded. Just the kind of play Guillen can't seem to get his expensive Marlins to try very often.
Zambrano, however, pitches tonight. The only thing that will probably keep a cap on emotions is that the Marlins and Nats play each other so often that you really don't want to start a war. But, to motivate a dead team, Ozzie may think that's the best tactic he has left. With Giancarlo Stanton out for six weeks, the Fish could be out of the "race" — such as it is with them already 10 games out — very soon. Then it would be a long hot summer in Miami where crowds in that new park are already very thinned out. Paid attendance and actual attendance are pretty far apart.
Read the full transcript of Boz’s chat here.
Will there be any lingering after effects from Sunday’s tiff, or is this all just Ozzie being Ozzie?