Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper made yet more headlines on Monday night when he was thrown out of his team’s game against the Tigers in the bottom of the ninth inning by home plate umpire Brian Knight. As fate would have it, Clint Robinson immediately drilled a walk-off home run. As he ran onto the field to celebrate with his teammates, Harper appeared to shout “F— you!” at Knight.
Harper, the defending NL MVP, has seemed to embrace his role as someone people love to hate. He was featured in an ESPN the Magazine article before the start of the season in which he lamented how baseball stifles younger players’ ability to express themselves. Hall of Famer Goose Gossage and Giants reliever Sergio Romo were two of many who excoriated Harper for the remarks. Teammate Jonathan Papelbon choked Harper in the dugout at the end of last season because he didn’t like Harper’s lack of effort.
Will veteran manager Dusty Baker, in his first year with the Nationals, have to keep Harper in line? It sounds like it. Via Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post, Baker said he doesn’t mind Harper’s emotion, but added, “Will I have to spank him sometimes? Maybe.”
Certainly, Baker was speaking metaphorically. But someone, somewhere is cooking up some spicy slash fiction with that imagery.