Nobody From Nowhere (@i8dc)

Occasional Common Sense

Bryce Harper Gets Run By Marvin Hudson

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I was finishing a project last night and couldn’t do one of my favorite things: go to Nats Park and watch the umpires practice their craft.

Let’s get one thing straight: Harper was not thrown out for arguing balls and strikes; when he was thrown out, he wasn’t saying a thing about umpire Marvin Hudson’s awful strike one call. Here’s a timeline of what happened. Quotes are my best guess based on my limited lipreading skills, but I’m pretty sure of most of it.

It all happened in 28 seconds.

  • 0:00 First pitch of the plate appearance hits the glove.
  • 0:01 Hudson calls strike. Harper steps back with one foot.
  • 0:02 Harper: “Not even close.”
  • 0:03 Harper: “That is so f—ing bad.”
  • 0:06 Harper steps back with his other foot out; note, I don’t think he’s out of the batter’s box–more on that below. I haven’t seen what happens at this point, as MASN replayed the pitch. I think Hudson told Harper to get back in the box and Harper said something back, perhaps that he wasn’t out of the box. At this point, if Hudson felt Harper wasn’t following his direction, the rulebook says he could call strike two, but he didn’t; again, maybe because Harper wasn’t out of the box. I suspect Hudson then said, more loudly, “Get in the f—ing box.”
  • 0:11-2 The MASN feed cuts back to Harper stepping into the batter’s box, perhaps muttering one last word. Matt Williams is surely yelling at Hudson now, I think about baiting his player.
  • 0:14 Hudson takes off his mask and calls time, and yells at Matt Williams: “Don’t tell me not to [unintelligible]…” There was an exchange where neither was on camera. Then the camera switched back to Williams.
  • 0:20 Williams: “Get in the f—ing box!” This, I think, was Williams yelling at the umpire the same thing that the umpire yelled at his player.
  • 0:21 Hudson: off-camera “___________”
  • 0:22 Williams: “Don’t bait him!”
  • 0:23 Harper: “I was in the box the whole f—ing time.” (This from a later replay)
  • 0:24 Hudson: “Bryce  _______ [and] let’s go.”
  • 0:24 Harper: “But I was right there.”
    0:25 Hudson: “You get your ass in the box.” (I may not have this exactly right. I think he said ass.)
  • 0:26 Harper: “I was right…” [walking towards the box]
  • 0:27 Hudson: “Don’t…”
  • 0:27 Harper: “…here.”
  • 0:28 Hudson ejects Harper.

Clearly, Harper was thrown out not for arguing with the bad strike call, but for “showing up” the umpire.

Now, it may be that the Nats’ bench was griping about calls; PITCHf/x recorded that two strikes Hudson called on the batter before Harper, Yunel Escobar, were both inside by more than two inches.

But when Matt Williams yells “Don’t bait him” at Hudson, he’s not talking about the strike call.

Absolutely, Harper should have kept his mouth shut and focused on hitting, and he didn’t. And he shouldn’t have marched up so fast to put his foot in the box. He wasn’t hurrying to get in the box like ESPN’s Eduardo Perez said, but he wasn’t tiptoeing up to just barely put a foot in to show up the umpire either. He was showing that he never left the batter’s box before Hudson stopped the game to spar with Williams.

I don't know how widespread this is, but this is Bryce Harper "staying in" the batter's box in accordance with the new pace of play rules. Technically, the pitcher could make a pitch with him there.

Bryce Harper “staying in” the batter’s box, in accordance with new pace of play rules.

In the 1st inning, MASN showed the view at right of Harper between pitches: he has stepped away from the plate, but he has not left the batter’s box. Baseball’s new pace-of-play rules say the batter must keep one foot in the batter’s box between pitches unless he swung, or had to dodge the pitch, or there was a play, or one of some other events happened. So Harper takes a step back, but remains in the box. And while opposing teams could in theory throw a pitch with him standing there, nobody’s tried to do it yet.

So Harper was legitimately (and provocatively) showing the umpire that he actually was in the box when he was being told to get in the box.

In his postgame, Harper said he told Hudson he’d take the fine rather than hurry back in the box. I’m skeptical; his timeline of events isn’t supported by the video I’ve seen, and I don’t know if there was a time that bit of conversation could have occured.

Harper’s 22. He’s still learning the limits. Hope he learns fast.

—–

SportsCenter had an interesting take on the whole thing, pairing the ejection coverage with video of Harper not running out a grounder to first base in the first inning. Jay Crawford was the talking head for the episode I saw.

“Bryce Harper with a bit of an issue here. Hits a ground ball to first, Mark Teixeira tags… Look, I know it’s an out, he touches the bag right away. But no manager on the planet wants to see his best player though just walk back to… RUN THAT OUT. You’re paid to run that out.”

No mention of the fact that the ball was fair by 12 inches or less and a one-hopper. It was, literally, the easiest play in baseball. Harper was called out less than two seconds after he hit the ball.

Now, if Teixeira had been clever, he wouldn’t have stepped on the bag; he should have thrown to second for the force out; with Harper slow out of the box, the double play would have been easy. Instead he went for the tag play at second, and didn’t get Escobar. Why did ESPN focus on Harper rather than this mental miscue? Gee, I wonder.

“Later in the 3rd another issue… we blurred the lips there of harper because he used some inappropriate language. Now Hudson steps out and he tells the manager Matt Williams ‘you better control your guy or he’s going to the showers.'”

This fires me up. Crawford is speaking as an authority, as if he knows what was said, but he clearly has it wrong, since Harper was in the box, not talking, ready to go when Hudson responded to Williams. But I guess Crawford is a mystical mind-reader and can hear things from great distances.

“Now Hudson just telling Harper to get in the box. Get. In. The. Box.”

Just. Oh yes, Hudson was just telling to get in the box. No salty language there, huh? Apparently not, since they didn’t blur Hudson’s mouth when he may have said “f—ing” and almost certainly said “ass.”  I’m surprised Crawford didn’t claim Hudson said “please.”

“And watch what Harper does – ‘there, I’m in the box.'”

Again, Crawford says with authority something completely untrue.

“No you’re not – you’re in the shower. Gone… I can tell you what Jim Joyce thinks: he’s not impressed, the eye roll as Williams walks past him.”

Hey Jay – I bet you a dollar Joyce was rolling his eyes at Hudson’s action, not Williams’s.

Sorry for the rant.

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Written by David Clayton

May 21, 2015 at 6:48 pm

Posted in Baseball

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