For the second time in two weeks, the duo of Bryce Harper and Matt Williams managed to get themselves ejected from a game. Last week, it was for arguing balls and strikes. Wednesday night, the reason seemed a little more unclear. At first, it appeared to be due to Harper stepping out of the batter’s box, But, after the game, home plate umpire Marvin Hudson explained that it was arguing calls once again.
Regardless of what you think of the ejection, the real lesson that needs to be taken away from this is simple: Matt Williams and Bryce Harper cannot continue to let their emotions get the best of them.
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For Harper, that’s easier said than done. Every single move he makes, especially on the baseball diamond, is instructed by unbridled passion. Harper likely laces up his cleats with more enthusiasm than half the league plays the game. Asking him to get his emotions in check is no small favor. If you do get him to corral his competitive fervor, you risk taking away the element that makes him great.
However, when it comes to dealing with officials, Harper has to know what’s best for the team. No one’s going to discount his eye at the plate given his walk rates for this season, but if an umpire disagrees with his discerning judgement of the strike zone, Harper has to live with it. If you need to disagree, say it calmly and respectfully, and then move on. Getting yourself thrown out of the game isn’t going to prove a point to anyone. All it does is put the Washington Nationals down their best hitter, and that’s not something they need.
As for Matt Williams? He simply has to know better. Admittedly, the situation on Wednesday was borderline. There are times to stand up for your players, and a situation in which an umpire was ostensibly baiting your superstar into an argument seems like one of those situations. The problem is, Williams has already shown during his brief tenure as a manager a tendency to get himself thrown out whenever his players do. It happened in the tenth inning of the NLDS last year and it was completely inexcusable. This pattern needs to stop.
If there’s anything encouraging about this pair of ejections, it’s the fact that Matt Williams at last looks to be embracing his superstar. Last season, the pair’s contentious relationship was under constant scrutiny. Now, Matt Williams is fully in Harper’s corner.
Still, the pair of them have lessons to learn, and the first one is this: when the calls aren’t going your way, take a page out of that mildly popular Disney movie, Frozen, and just “Let It Go.” Tell yourself it doesn’t matter. Tell yourself, “The call never bothered me anyway.”