Had he left the game as is, we may have viewed him as the poised superstar and wunderkind that he's been advertised as. Instead, when he grounded into a double play in the bottom of the ninth inning in Florida, he angrily threw his helmet on the ground, which almost struck umpire C.B. Bucknor, and was immediately ejected. Harper then had the nerve to walk back to Bucknor, get in his face and question him.
After the game, Johnson spoke about the incident (Read HERE) and his post-game discussion with the rookie outfielder:
"Bryce couldn't control his emotions again. I had a little chat with him. He'll get over it. He's just a hundred-percenter. He expects great things out of himself. He breaks bats, throws his helmet, and he's just got to stop it. Can't afford to be losing him in a ballgame with that. He'll learn. He's young. He'll learn."
Harper told reporters afterwards:
"I just need to stop getting pissed off and just live with it. I just need to grow up in that mentality a little bit. Try not to bash stuff in and things that I've always done my whole life. Those need to change."
In the interests of objective journalism, it should be noted that the call was extremely close, although on replay, Harper was, in fact, out, and the correct call was made. Also, Bucknor is regarded as one of the worst, if not, the worst umpire in baseball. Despite over 15 years' experience in both leagues, he is routinely named the worst:
- In a 2003 Sports Illustrated survey of 550 active major league players, Bucknor was voted as the worst umpire in MLB, with 20.7% of the vote.
- In an updated 2006 SI survey, Bucknor was again voted MLB's worst umpire, with 21% of the players' votes.
- Most recently, a 2010 ESPN survey of 100 active players (taken after Jim Joyce's blown call that cost the Detroit's Armando Galarraga a perfect game), Bucknor was once again named the worst umpire in baseball (while Joyce was named the best).
- May 11: In a game against the Reds, Harper went 0 for 5 with 2 strikeouts. In his 4th at bat, wherein he grounded out, he disappeared into the clubhouse and reemerged with a bloodied face after going berserk with a bat. His lacerations required 11 stitches.
- July 15: After Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen had something to say to umpiring officials about the amount of pine tar on his bat, Harper felt the need to point a (clean) bat at Guillen during his at-bat. Despite going 0-for-4 that day, the Nationals won behind Stephen Strasburg.
- July 16: Harper snaps a bat over his knee after a fly out.
- August 5: Harper breaks a bat over home plate after a strikeout. A piece of the bat hits the home plate umpire, for which Harper apologizes.
- August 20: Harper breaks another bat over home plate.
Derek Jeter is not just another player, he is a role model for leadership. Harper needs to find the right person to emulate and learn from. A good start would be ruling out the most undesirable candidate: himself.
--Fox Luu, BYB Guest Writer
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