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.