Bryce Harper had a very quick afternoon during the Washington Nationals’ 6-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday. Harper had only one at-bat, as he was thrown out by umpire John Hirschbeck in the top of the first inning for arguing over a check swing. The call looked questionable and the ejection even more so.
Harper reportedly dropped his bat after staring at Hirschbeck, but it sure looked like Hirschbeck was antagonizing him. Instead of turning the other way, the veteran umpire threw his arms up at Harper and kept staring him down. It seemed obvious he was waiting for a reason to throw him out.
“First of all, he put both arms up in the air,” Hirschback explained after the game, via Bill Ladson of MLB.com. “To me, I felt like that’s showing me up. I yelled at him and warned him to stop. And then he continued and he slammed his bat down. I actually warned him again and then the next thing he slammed his helmet down and I felt three warnings are more than enough.”
For his part, all Harper said was that he was happy he didn’t cost his team a win. Last season, Harper was ejected after he slammed his helmet when he was angry with himself for grounding into a double play, so it does seem like umpires try to make an example of the youngster at times.
Perhaps Hirschbeck was still frustrated after being nailed in the groin by a foul ball a little over a week ago. That type of experience can stick with a person.