We've seen some of the best in Harper, and we've seen some of the worst in him all in just a small period of time.
We got to see both the best and worst once more on Wednesday night in Miami. Harper hit two mammoth home runs to help the Nationals erase a five-game losing streak. He was also ejected in the ninth inning after grounding into a double play. He slammed his helmet to the ground out of frustration, and first base umpire C.B. Bucknor gave him the heave-ho.
See it below.
First of all, it was a garbage ejection. It looked more like Bucknor – one of the game's worst umpires — was just trying to get on SportsCenter while making an example of out of Harper. It's not unlike when Cole Hamels threw at Harper earlier in the year just because.
Harper is young, and he's a phenom. He's going to rub people the wrong way with the way he goes about his business, and it's not just people like Hamels or Ozzie Guillen in the other dugout he's going to tick off. Umpires, especially ones like Bucknor, are paying attention, too.
But expecting umpires like Bucknor to be better is like expecting the bus to be on time — it's just not going to happen.
However, we can expect Harper to change, and he'll have to. He's a really good baseball player. The Nationals can't afford him going bonkers and being ejected. They especially can't afford that with the playoffs around the corner, where emotions will be running even higher. The Nats also can't afford Harper injuring himself while going cuckoo over something like a flyout in the third inning. The 19-year-old basically broke a bat over his face this season, and the result could have been much, much worse.
"Bryce couldn't control his emotions again," Washington manager Davey Johnson told reporters after the game."I had a little chat with him. He'll get over it. He's just a hundred-percenter. He expects great things out of himself, breaks bats, throws his helmet. He's just got to stop it. We can't afford to be losing him in a ballgame. He'll learn. He's young."
He'll figure it out eventually. He's still a kid for crying out loud. But he won't be able to take his game to the next level until he takes some of the anger out of his game. It's not condusive in a sport like baseball where failure is the name of the game and umpires have rabbit ears.
Being a "hundred-percenter" is will what make Harper one of the best players in baseball before too long. He just needs to learn where to apply that hundred percent first.