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Harper sparks bench-clearing incident

Apr 28, 2011, 2:18 PM EDT

Bryce Harper has had quite an eventful week. After his pro career got off to a sluggish start, the 18-year-old outfielder has gone on a bit of a tear. He's homered in three of his last five games, this after getting contact lenses upon learning his vision wasn't so great. He crashed into the wall in Hagerstown making a catch and missed the second half of a doubleheader because of it.

Last night, Harper squared off against Jameson Taillon, the right-hander selected by the Pirates one spot behind him in last summer's draft. Taillon, in his minor-league debut, walked Harper in the top of the first, then didn't face him again because heavy rain forced the suspension of the game after two innings.

Harper had already made headlines the previous night when he exchanged some words with West Virginia's catcher after crossing the plate upon homering. When Harper struck out looking later in the game, he and the opposing pitcher started jabbering back and forth,Read more »

  1. sunderland - Apr 28, 2011 at 2:37 PM

    You can make a reputation quickly, but it takes a lot of time to shed a reputation. This needs to be nipped in the bud. The kid will learn to keep his thoughts to himself or he'll find his professional baseball life a lot more difficult.

  2. erocks33 - Apr 28, 2011 at 2:46 PM

    I had seen another video (shot by a fan in the stands from far away) and to me it looked like once Harper struck out, he was just standing in the batters box taking off his helmet and gloves. Then after a couple of seconds he looks over his shoulder and the opposing pitcher is saying stuff to him as he (the pitcher) is walking towards his dugout. That's when Harper starts walking over towards the pitcher. My guess is that the pitcher said some naughty stuff to Harper, who didn't like it and decided to say something back.

  3. HHover - Apr 28, 2011 at 2:50 PM

    Agree with sunderland–and in Harper's case, he doesn't start with an entirely clean slate.Remember back before the draft, when there were murmurrings about his character and "makeup"–which he only encouraged when he got suspended in his JC world series for challenging an ump on a strike call. He behaved well in ST, but now that he's in low A ball, his less mature side seems to be on display again. I don't put this just on Harper–he's only 18 and he needs the adults around him to set him straight.

  4. Anonymous - Apr 28, 2011 at 2:51 PM

    I too saw the other video and while it's too distant to see if Harper's lips were moving, everything about the situation — both players' movements and body language — suggest that the pitcher made an unnecessary detour by Harper and said something that Harper took exception to. Certainly the incident with the catcher earlier contributed. So I'm not ready to condemn him for the bench clearing, although he needs to learn that teams are going to try to get under his skin and that he needs to rise above it.

  5. Hotdiggitydog - Apr 28, 2011 at 3:04 PM

    Sheesh, people, let's not jump to conclusions so quickly about the kid's character. He's gotten so much publicity, every opponent is looking for him, probably trying to get under his skin. In the face of that, all he has done has exchanged a few words. What do you want him to do? Just turn the other cheek? Walk meekly back to the dugout? This isn't tennis for crying out loud. I think the kid has shown the proper amount of restraint while also demonstrating that he has a backbone.He's NOT charging the mound, throwing punches, talking smack in the press, hitting his girlfriend, going on beer benders, etc.Just take a breath and enjoy the ride.

  6. PAY TO PLAY - Apr 28, 2011 at 3:13 PM

    Anon @10:51, well said! Also, if this wasn't Bryce Harper we all wouldn't care. It also isn't anything as intense as one of Nyjer's dustups.

  7. alexva - Apr 28, 2011 at 3:22 PM

    Among other things, he's making a name for himself as a hard nosed player who hustles all the time, doesn't take failure well and won't back down. As I watch the big club play, that seems to be just what the doctor ordered. There are lines that he needs to be respectful of crossing but so far all is okay with me.

  8. Will - Apr 28, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    It seems like Taillon was talking trash after striking him out, and Harper turned and yelled some choice words at him. He probably should have let it go, but it appears as if he wasn't the one to initiate.Here's a video of it from the first row behind the Harper. You can hear the fans explain what Harper yelled at Taillon in the video. Iit does look as if Harper was just taking his gloves and helmet off. It didn't appear as if he was saying anything but muttering to himself, before being instigated by Taillon (or another Pirate player).http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r10CruyEGHc

  9. sunderland - Apr 28, 2011 at 3:38 PM

    Folks, it's pretty clear to see that Harper was jawing with the catcher after crossing the plate on his 1st inning HR. It's unnecceary and unhealthy for anyone in professional baseball.

  10. Anonymous - Apr 28, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    Yes it is clear, and you know for a fact that the catcher was not jawing at Harper while he was at the plate?

  11. The Joker - Apr 28, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    He's the Rick Tocchet of baseball.

  12. Canada's #1 Nats Fan - Apr 28, 2011 at 3:51 PM

    I sure don't mind seeing Harper show a little spunk, especially if it can be backed up by his performance on the field. Can't wait til he's in the Bigs.

  13. S.U. Sasskuash - Apr 28, 2011 at 3:57 PM

    I'm not worried about this at all. First, he's only 18 years old. He's a teenager, and we have to expect he's going to behave like a teenager from time to time. With proper mentoring and parenting (which, from the articles I've read, it sounds like he has a very supportive, value-oriented family to guide him) he'll learn to grow out of some of these mistakes. Second, he is an intense, aggressive player. These are personality traits that make him as good as he is! Maybe that will sometimes lead to disputes with opposing teams, but it will also drive him to make the most of his talent. Don't take that away from him, teach him to focus it on his play and accept the bumps along the way. I, for one, can't wait to see him in D.C., ego and all!

  14. Anonymous - Apr 28, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    i'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. The catchers back is to the camera so we don't know if he said something first and Harper replied in kind. Also, in the second clip it clearly looks like the pitcher said something first. Either way, I like the fire. Good for him. I don't think this makes him look bad at all.

  15. neato torpedo - Apr 28, 2011 at 4:26 PM

    In another shocking turn of events, two 18-year-old boys had hot tempers. I miss those halcyon days when Ty Cobb entered slid into second with perfect, Oxford-style debate form.

  16. Jaxpo Nat - Apr 28, 2011 at 4:29 PM

    Frankly, that kind of attitude is exactly what the Nationals need more of. I am actually happy to see this happen. This isn't Romper Room, it's hard-nosed professional baseball. Anyone who thinks Harper needs to "correct" this attitude obviously wants to be rooting for a team of pansy pushovers. Not me. Good job Harper.

  17. joemktg - Apr 28, 2011 at 4:42 PM

    neato torpedo with the comment of the week.

  18. Anonymous - Apr 28, 2011 at 5:02 PM

    Harper's got some old school in him andI say good. Giggleman's island needs tobecome more like Ithaca Isle with Ulysses and friends putting the hammer decidedlydown. If Harper wants to lead that chargehopefully with help from Werth I'll be rightthere behind him.

  19. SonnyG10 - Apr 28, 2011 at 5:05 PM

    I would need more information to really judge whether this is a problem for us, but from what I could tell, I don't have a problem with his actions. A little fire is a good thing.

  20. N. Cognito - Apr 28, 2011 at 5:27 PM

    Testosterone flare-up.Nothing to see here.Move along.

  21. Manassas Nats Fan - Apr 28, 2011 at 5:44 PM

    This really is a non story to me. However I agree with those a little fire on the team is not a bad thing. Don't need gasoline on the fire like Nyjer, but a little fire is fine.

  22. Les in NC - Apr 28, 2011 at 5:49 PM

    Personally, I think it's great!While whether or not the catcher started the bad mouthing is unclear, Bryce has shown that he can give as good as he gets! Is it immature? Almost certainly, but I would not want him meekly backing down to any confrontation. Better he gets what he has to say off his chest than to have it fester. Better out, than in and all that…Yes he is building a rep for himself, but one that has yet to be a detriment to himself or his teammates. So until that date, he is still the best prospect in minor league baseball right now, IMO.

  23. Les in NC - Apr 28, 2011 at 5:55 PM

    Also, the title to that clip is misleading…The incident in question occurred on 4/26 IIRC not 4/27.

  24. Anonymous - Apr 28, 2011 at 6:53 PM

    Wow everyone who thinks Harper's attitude was great thought Nyger Morgan's aggressive attitude was a cancer.

  25. A DC Wonk - Apr 28, 2011 at 7:17 PM

    Anony — if Bryce had bowled over a catcher who wasn't in the play, then there might be a comparison.

  26. HHover - Apr 28, 2011 at 8:10 PM

    Let’s not mistake thunder for lightning, folks. “Intensity” and “fire" matter only when they affect the things that appear in the box score–you know, hits, runs, etc. Which it turns out, are a much better way for a player to manifest his intensity than by jawing at the pitcher who just struck him out, and following said pitcher back to the wrong dugout.Put another way — the problem with Laynce Nix, Alex Cora, Todd Coffey, etc., isn’t that they lack “fire,” but that they’re mediocre ballplayers. And the problem with the Nats is that those are often the best players they have to send out on the field. The reason to look forward to Bryce Harper isn’t because he’s “intense,” but because he’s a much, much better ballplayer.

  27. Ribuld - Apr 28, 2011 at 8:50 PM

    A lot of trash talking was directed Harpers way in college and it's still going on. Harper has to stand up for himself even though that might not seem pc to some people. It's about time someone in this organization showed a little fire.

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