Craig Calcaterra

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 26:  Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals walks to the dugout after making the final out in the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park on April 26, 2016 in Washington, DC.  Philadelphia won the game 4-3. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
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Let’s not make a federal case out of Bryce Harper’s F-Bomb, OK?


I woke up this morning at one of those points of existential crisis in which parents find themselves from time to time. A hero ballplayer defied the authority of an umpire, came on to the field after he had been ejected and then yelled an obscenity at him. How on Earth do I explain that to my children? How?!

Oh, wait. I don’t have to. Kids don’t watch baseball anymore. Hahaha.

Eh, look. I’m not gonna say it was a great performance for Bryce Harper last night. Even if you’re squarely on board the Make Baseball Fun Again bandwagon, it’s sort of hard to go all-in with a defense of yelling “F-you” at an ump, and I suspect that Major League Baseball isn’t going to look too kindly on it. Between returning to the field after being ejected — which you’re not supposed to do even in celebration — and the F-bomb, I wouldn’t be shocked if Harper were fined or maybe even suspended for a game. Managers have been penalized for both things in the past, and if Harper is, well, so be it. It’d be in keeping with MLB precedent.

At the same time, I do hope we can agree not to make a federal case out of this. Or, worse, the F-bomb that launched a thousand thinkpieces about Harper’s character and meaning. Bobby Cox yelled F-bombs at umpires from the dugout — audibly — scores of times. Earl Weaver did way worse. No one thought to lecture them on how to be “classy” or said that they were punks or whatever. They’re baseball guys and baseball guys, young and old, get salty sometimes. Harper is no different, even if he’s in the running to be “The Face of Baseball” among people who think such things are important.

Harper, like every single baseball player who has ever played a game at one point or another, was pissed at an ump for subjective reasons. His team won a game in dramatic fashion a few minutes later, he ran on the field to celebrate and — I suspect — was told to get off the field. He said “F-You,” just like most of us have said “F-You” to someone we were mad at at one time or another. No one lectures us when we lose our composure in such a fashion. They roll their eyes at most and move on pretty quickly because doing anything else is a waste of effort.

I’m at a place in life where I don’t yell “F-you” at people as often as I did 20 years ago. Bryce Harper isn’t yet. He’s allowed to have moments like that just like anyone else. You don’t have to approve of it. You also don’t have to disapprove of it, let alone make a big show of doing so. Stuff happens.

And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 09:  Clint Robinson #25 of the Washington Nationals hits a walk off home run during a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers at Nationals Park on May 9, 2016 in Washington, DC.  The Nationals won 5-4.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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I took the kids to see “Captain America: Civil War” last night. Its plot is set in motion by a powerful and at times inspiring hero who, unfortunately, is divisive, occasionally arrogant, is prone to poor impulse control and who is really feeling the heat after he is accused of destroying an entire country. He also has at times questionable facial hair and a sidekick named Clint who is surprisingly heroic when given the chance. When I got home, I watched the last couple of innings of the Nationals-Tigers game which featured a powerful and at times inspiring hero who, unfortunately, is divisive, occasionally arrogant, prone to poor impulse control and who is often accused of destroying an entire country. He also has at times questionable facial hair and a sidekick named Clint who is surprisingly heroic when given the chance.

I guess what I’m saying is that I totally expect people to propose the baseball equivalent of the Sokovia Accords for Bryce Harper today, even if I expect him to be less receptive to it than Iron Man was. In both cases our hero is far more interesting when he’s doing the things he’s born to do than when he’s pulled into contrived controversies, so here’s hoping we can just see more repulsor beam firing from our hero and less political intrigue surrounding him going forward. And here’s hoping Iron Man’s life is simplified a bit too.

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Nationals 5, Tigers 4: For all of that Bryce Harper drama, the absolute best part of this game was Clint Robinson admitting that he thought it was the eighth inning and not the ninth and didn’t realize at first he had hit a walkoff homer. The second best part of this was that my friend who is a Tigers fan was watching it as the ninth was starting and texted me to tell me that she was going to go bed, saying “Don’t really want to see how the Tigers lose this one and I have to work early tomorrow.” Real Tigers fans know. They know it in their bones. It’s not even surprising or particularly disappointing to them anymore.

Yankees 6, Royals 3: The Yankees hit five solo homers. Carlos Beltran hit two of them. The Royals hit two homers as well. Just a dingeriffic night in the Bronx. Well, not so much for Kansas City who has lost 10 of 13 and is under .500 for the first time in forever. Aroldis Chapman made his 2016 and his Yankees debut, striking out two and flashing triple-digit heat but also giving up two hits and a run.

Red Sox 14, Athletics 7: Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a grand slam and drove in six. He’s on a 15-game hitting streak during which he’s hitting .382 (21-for-55). Brock Holt hit a two-run homer, and David Ortiz had three hits and two RBI for Boston. The Sox have won seven of 10.

Reds 3, Pirates 2: Tucker BarnhartZack Cozart and Joey Votto all went deep for the Reds’ only three runs and, shocker, the bullpen didn’t allow any runs in three innings.

Marlins 4, Brewers 1: Jose Fernandez tossed seven shutout innings but the highlight of the game was clearly J.T. Realmuto hitting what would’ve been a tiebreaking two-run home run only to have it negated because he passed the baserunner ahead of him on the basepaths. That’s the kind of thing that would be excruciating in a loss, but they can joke about it in a win. Maybe whoever bats ahead of him in the lineup tonight should be designated “line leader” like my kids had in preschool.

White Sox 8, Rangers 4: Todd Frazier had been slumping, but a grand slam in extra innings will turn that frown upside down. It was Frazier’s second homer of the game. He, like Bradley in Boston, had six RBI on the night. They were all needed as the White Sox pen blew leads in the eighth and ninth innings before having their bacon saved.

Astros 7, Indians 1: The Astros bats beat up the 2014 Cy Young winner for five runs in two and two-thirds, propelled by Jose Altuve‘s three RBI and a pair from Colby Rasmus. Altuve is putting up MVP numbers — .323/.408/.654.

Diamondbacks 10, Rockies 5: Jake Lamb homered and drove in four. A lot of baseball writers won’t admit it, but I will because I’m all about transparency: I’m gonna like Lamb for the rest of his career because he gave me a really fun and funny interview in spring training. I didn’t even use the best part for any story. The upshot was that he was talking to his dad over the winter and he mentioned some famous player like Paul Goldschmidt and his dad was all impressed and talked about what it must be like to be a big famous major leaguer. Lamb was like “dad, you know I am a major leaguer too . . .” And Lamb’s dad told him “Well, yeah, but you know what I mean.” I understand, Jake. I totally understand.

Mariners 5, Rays 2: Felix Hernandez is now the all-time wins leader for the Mariners, passing Jamie Moyer. I bet a lot of people would’ve thought it was Randy Johnson. It’s easy to think that — he spent parts of ten seasons in Seattle — but he wasn’t RANDY JOHNSON yet for the first few and ended up with only 130 wins in an M’s uniform while Hernandez now has 146. Ketel Marte hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the sixth here to ensure King Felix’s place atop the team leaderboard.

Mets 4, Dodgers 2: Steven Matz won his fifth after allowing two runs and six hits in six innings and striking out five. Scott Kazmir continues to allow a lot of homers — he now has surrendered nine on the year, which is a 46-HR pace if he’s allowed to pitch all season — and the Dodgers continue to reel. Chase Utley pinch hit and came to the plate twice, but there was no hint of retribution for the infamous slide from last year’s playoffs.

Blue Jays 3, Giants 1: Aaron Sanchez allowed only one run and three hits in seven innings. Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run homer in the third which provided the winning margin. The call on that homer was pretty impressive.

Padres vs. Cubs; Orioles vs. Twins — POSTPONED: Rain down, rain down
Come on rain down on me
From a great height
From a great height… height…
Rain down, rain down
Come on rain down on me
From a great height
From a great height… height…
Rain down, rain down
Come on rain down on me

Must-Click Link: Remembering Reggie Jackson’s lost year in Baltimore

COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 27:  Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson is introduced during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Clark Sports Center on July 27, 2014 in Cooperstown, New York.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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Everyone either remembers or has seen highlights of Reggie Jackson as a New York Yankee. Everyone who knows even a bit of baseball history knows that he came up with the A’s, won an MVP award and three World Series rings in Oakland. Anyone who has seen “The Naked Gun” knows that Mr. October played for the California Angels.

But there are a lot of baseball fans, even some pretty avid ones, who don’t realize that Jackson played for the Baltimore Orioles. It was just one season, 1976, and not even the whole season due to a holdout. But he played there while he bided his time between the late 1975 arbitration ruling ushering in free agency and the first time players could take advantage of it following the 1976 season. Baltimore was a pretty great place to play baseball in the 1970s, but for Jackson, it really was his season in limbo.

Today Dan Epstein — expert of all things 1970s baseball — has an article up over at Vice exploring Reggie Jackson’s weird year with the O’s. The year in which his house burnt down. The year in which he got in a screaming match with Earl Weaver over a necktie. The year in which Dock Ellis hit him square in the face with a fastball for . . . reasons.

No one tells stories of baseball in the 70s like Epstein and no baseball stories of the 1970s are complete without some reference to Reggie Jackson, the decade’s biggest and brightest star. Must reading, for sure.