Bryce Harper expressed his feelings on the unwritten rules of Major League Baseball when divisive reliever Jonathan Papelbon, his teammate with the Washington Nationals, threw up high at Manny Machado after the Baltimore Orioles' infielder took Max Scherzer deep for a tide-turning home run late last season.
Papelbon was eventually suspended for the purpose pitch which Harper said immediately after the game was "pretty tired" in his opinion.
"I mean, Manny freakin' hit a homer and walked it off and somebody drilled him," Harper told reporters.
"I mean, it's pretty tired. So, it's one of those situations where it happens and I don't know, I'll probably get drilled tomorrow, so we'll see what happens."
Harper didn't get drilled the next day, but the O's swept the three-game set in the nation's capital, which was probably a more enjoyable/meaningful form of retribution than the proverbial pound of flesh.
Harper talked about the unwritten rules of the game again in an ESPN feature by Tim Keown entitled, "Sorry. Not Sorry" that is currently blowing up the internet, in which he discusses his desire/mission to change baseball forever...
In discussing the game's unwritten rules, Harper acknowledges that he probably should have talked to Papelbon behind the scenes last season rather than saying what he did to reporters.
"If I had a problem with Pap, I should have gone up to Pap," Harper says, but then he goes on to say that things need to change:
"Baseball's tired," he says. "It's a tired sport, because you can't express yourself. You can't do what people in other sports do. I'm not saying baseball is, you know, boring or anything like that, but it's the excitement of the young guys who are coming into the game now who have flair. If that's Matt Harvey or Jacob deGrom or Manny Machado or Joc Pederson or Andrew McCutchen or Yasiel Puig -- there's so many guys in the game now who are so much fun.
"Jose Fernandez is a great example. Jose Fernandez will strike you out and stare you down into the dugout and pump his fist. And if you hit a homer and pimp it? He doesn't care. Because you got him. That's part of the game. It's not the old feeling -- hoorah ... if you pimp a homer, I'm going to hit you right in the teeth. No. If a guy pimps a homer for a game-winning shot ... I mean -- sorry."
He stops, looks around. The hell with it, he's all in.
"If a guy pumps his fist at me on the mound, I'm going to go, 'Yeah, you got me. Good for you. Hopefully I get you next time.' That's what makes the game fun. You want kids to play the game, right? What are kids playing these days? Football, basketball. Look at those players -- Steph Curry, LeBron James. It's exciting to see those players in those sports. Cam Newton -- I love the way Cam goes about it. He smiles, he laughs. It's that flair. The dramatic."
Can Harper, Keown asks, help to, "... create a game in which players respect each other and retain the right to express themselves fully without fear of a fastball to the ear hole?"
If that's the game the majority of players wanted they could create it themselves, right? But is it?
There are plenty of other interesting tidbits in the article, like Harper expressing a desire to return to ask his sixth grade classmates if they became what they said they wanted to be when a teacher asked what they wanted to be when they grew up and suggested Harper choose a profession other than his choice of Major League Baseball player.
He also recalls a conversation he had with a fan in San Francisco's AT&T Park before he launched a towering homer into the drink.
Love him or hate him... just don't make a comment about how he'll be a New York Yankee after 2018, please.
Check out the entire article here:
Bryce Harper is out to break baseball's unwritten rules, writes Tim Keown. https://t.co/l5WINYzOlE— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) March 10, 2016