Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper was ejected from Friday’s game against the Mets in the top of the 11th inning after arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Jerry Meals. You can watch here to see how events unfolded.
Harper was angry about the strike zone all night and had a legitimate gripe in this case, as the called third strike was outside (hat-tip Mark Zuckerman of CSNMA.com). However, he let his frustration get the best of him in the situation and got right in Meals’ face. Meals gave him the opportunity to walk away, but he eventually had no choice but to eject him from the ballgame.
Harper’s ejection put the Nationals in a bit of a bind, as they ended up having to use Dan Uggla at first base for the first time in his career and Ryan Zimmerman in left field. It didn’t have an impact on the finish, as the Mets won 2-1 in the bottom of the 12th on a walk-off homer from Wilmer Flores, but Nationals manager Matt Williams told James Wagner of the Washington Post that Harper’s actions were unacceptable given the circumstances.
“He needs to stay in the baseball game,” said Williams after the game, visibly frustrated, perhaps by the 2-1 walk-off loss, Harper’s ejection or that two relievers were unavailable. “He needs to stay in the baseball game.”
Harper said after the game that he was ” sticking up for my team and myself,” but he does a lot more good for his team when he’s on the field as opposed to sitting in the clubhouse. Williams said he plans to remind him to keep his cool, which is important with the Nationals playing some crucial games down the stretch.
Over the past several weeks we’ve heard a lot of news about teams furloughing front office and scouting staff, leveling pay cuts for those who remain and, most recently, ceasing stipends to minor league players and releasing them en masse. The message being sent, intentionally or otherwise, is that baseball teams are feeling the pinch.
The Kansas City Royals, however, are a different story.
Jon Heyman reported this afternoon that the Royals are paying their minor leaguers through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended, and unlike so many other teams, they are not releasing players either. Jeff Passan, meanwhile, reports that the Royals will not lay any team employees off or furlough anyone. “Nearly 150 employees will not take pay cuts,” he says, though “higher-level employees will take tiered cuts.” Passan adds that the organization intends to restore the lost pay due to those higher-level employees in the future when revenue ramps back up, making them whole.
While baseball finances are murky at best and opaque in most instances, most people agree that the Royals are one of the lower-revenue franchises in the game. They are also near the bottom as far as franchise value goes. Finally, they have the newest ownership group in all of baseball, which means that the group almost certainly has a lot of debt and very little if any equity in the franchise. Any way you slice it, cashflow is likely tighter in Kansas City than almost anywhere else.
Yet the Royals are paying minor leaguers and front office employees while a great number of other teams are not. What’s their excuse?