Unfortunately, I fear that the one play tonight which will generate much of the national attention was Harper getting ejected in the top of the ninth inning.
Harper grounded into a double play with no outs in the ninth, and the play at first was a close one. Harper was ruled out by first base umpire C.B. Bucknor, and as soon as he saw the call, Harper spiked his helmet in frustration.
Was he spiking his helmet because of the call? Was he spiking his helmet because he was upset at himself for allowing the Marlins to turn two late in the game?
Bucknor couldn’t have known. But he immediately ejected Harper anyway.
The decision to eject Harper was an incorrect one, and I’m not saying that in any type of biased way. In situations where a player throws a bat or a helmet, he is hit with a league-imposed fine, which is called an equipment violation.
That should be the only punishment that Harper should have suffered after his mini-tantrum. Bucknor ejecting him was an overreaction, and another case of an umpire injecting himself into a situation in which he wasn’t needed.
If Harper comes up to Bucknor to argue the call or says something inappropriate, that’s one thing. But Bucknor made his decision to eject Harper strictly on the helmet toss, which was not the right move.
Of course, Harper shouldn’t have put himself in that situation in the first place. He’s an emotional player and sometimes that emotion gets the better of him, as it did in that instance. The rookie needs to do a better job of keeping his emotions in check and not getting so upset anytime something doesn’t go his way.
But he should have been allowed to continue playing. The Nats, and Bucknor, for that matter, are lucky the ejection came in the ninth inning of a four-run game. If it had come earlier, Harper’s actions and Bucknor’s incorrect decision could have ended up costing the Nats dearly.