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Temper, Temper: Harper Loses Cool, But Phillies Lose More

Bryce Harper

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Let’s begin by reaffirming our position about Bryce Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies.

We believe the team was absolutely nuts to sign Harper for 13 years and $330 million in late February. The move was ill-advised and financially imprudent.

It was the dumbest thing we’ve seen since the Baltimore Orioles gave Chris Davis, Mr. 0-for-53, $161 million in 2016.

Harper is not worth that kind of money and Phillies are going to be very sorry about all of this sooner rather than later.

On the subject of sooner, let’s talk about what Harper did Monday night in New York.

There is a reason fans other than Phillies fans (at least for now) despise Harper. He’s something of a lunkhead. He struts and preens around the playing the field. That’s a very bad vibe for a guy with a career .279 average and 863 career strikeouts.

He also has a monstrous temper and it doesn’t take long for his fuse to light. And when it does, it’s never pretty and has usually been detrimental to the Washington Nationals and now the Phillies.

Everyone was a little on edge Monday because there was a one hour, 35-minute rain delay before the first pitch against the New York Mets. You could sense the impatience from the wide strike zone the home plate umpire Mark Carlson was using. He wanted to go home, too.

In the top of the fourth inning, four batters after being angered by strike calls in an at-bat that resulted in a strikeout, Harper got tossed for continuing to bitch about it from the bench during the middle of Cesar Hernandez’s plate appearance.

Not long after manager Gabe Kapler rushed out to argue the ejection, Harper shot from the dugout in much the same fashion George Brett launched himself after being called out after hitting a homer at Yankee Stadium in the famous “Pine Tar” game in 1983. Google it, millennials. Hilarious.

Bryce Harper

(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Anyway, Kapler had to push Harper away from Carlson to keep the dude from clubbing the umpire. There was finger pointing and gesticulation and likely more than a few very bad words before he recoiled and sheepishly left the field.

“It just can’t happen,” Harper said. “In a game like that against the Mets, division rival, things like that, it just can’t happen. For myself and this team, as well. We’re a better team with me in the lineup, and I gotta stay in that game.”

Sure Bryce. Right. You think so?

This type of behavior costs the Phillies in more than one way.

“We need him in right field,” Phillies starter Jake Arrieta said after the game. “I don’t care how bad (the ump) is, I need him in right field, I need him at the plate and he wasn’t there. So that hurts. He missed some pitches but for both sides. If that’s the case, that happens on a nightly basis usually. The umpire is going to miss some calls. So what? Next pitch. We’ve got a game to play.”

Let’s do some math on Harper to illustrate exactly what getting thrown out of a game in the fourth inning costs the Phillies.

Harper is making $30 million this season. Based on a 162-game schedule, that’s $185,185 per game. Based on nine innings per game, that’s $20,576 per inning. Based on the 695 plate appearance he had in Washington in 2018, that’s $43,165 every time he walks to home plate.

So, not only did Harper cost the Phillies his services for five innings in a 5-1 loss, he cost them $232,375 in lost innings and plate appearances.

Maybe his agent Scott Boras will ask for a raise next season.

This is Harper’s eighth Major League season and he has already been thrown out of 12 games. While this is not Earl Weaver-Bobby Cox territory, it does demonstrate an inherit lack of self-control that immediately separates him from the true stars of the game, like Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels.

According to MLB, only Cincinnati’s Matt Kemp, who had been ejected 14 times in 14 seasons, has been thumbed more times among active players.

We repeat: 13 years, $330 million for a player who hit .249 last season with 169 strikeouts in 159 games and is hitting .272 with 29 Ks in 22 games this season.

“I have to stay in that game for the organization, the fans. I have to do better,” Harper said. “These games matter. They matter now, they matter in September.”

Good luck with that, Phillies.