Bryce Harper was ejected Wednesday night at Class AA Harrisburg after slamming his helmet in protest of a called third strike, the latest incident likely to cause controversy to swirl around Harper.
In the seventh inning, Harper took a 3-2 pitch low and away and began to walk to first base. Home plate umpire Max Guyll called strike three, at which point Harper ripped off his helmet and slammed it to the ground. Guyll immediately ejected Harper, who marched at him and screamed in his face before Manager Tony Beasley interceded. Beasley was later tossed, too.
Harper, 18, has started at Class AA since his promotion from Class A Hagerstown, which perhaps contributed to his frustration. In 31 games, Harper has hit .248/.306/.385 with two homers while striking out 22 times and committing three errors.
The ejection, and the intensity of Harper’s reaction, will likely create another firestorm around Harper, who has drawn scorn for his bombastic on-field behavior in the past, from getting thrown out of his final junior college game to blowing a kiss at an opposing pitcher at Hagerstown.
Harper is also a constant target of ribbing from opposing players and fans, and has an intense spotlight on him at all times. (Even that notion itself attracted negative attention to Harper when two Nationals officials compared the scrutiny he faces to what Jackie Robinson endured.)
If another controversy arises surrounding Harper’s ejection, the reaction will be overheated. Harper is far from the first minor leaguer to get tossed. He’s fiery and he needs to grow up a little. We didn’t know that already?
For more details, here’s the game story from the Harrisburg Patriot-News.