Things to know about Bryce Harper: He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated when he was fifteen years old. He is, by most measures, an excellent Major League ballplayer at the age of nineteen, which is almost unheard of. He has a really awful hair-cut — the kind that your worst teenage cousin who still wears JNCOs might have. When he plays, it’s all the announcers talk about, ever. He stole home the other night — his first major league steal. He wears copious amounts of eye black. For baseball people, he seems to present an inexplicable paradox: he is both an utter joy to watch and yet impossible to really like (unless you’re a Nationals fan).
And last night, after a disappointing ground out, he grabbed his bat, walked into his team’s dugout tunnel, and swung at the wall. The bat bounced off the wall, hitting Harper above his left eye, drawing tons of blood and a golf-ball sized welt. When he returned to the dugout, none of his teammates asked what had happened — they just knew.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson said “I didn’t think much about it. We put a band-aid on it, one of those butterflies. That’s what ballplayers do — break bats, throw helmets. That’s not anything new.” But he did continue, “It’s an easy way to get rid of your frustration. I’ll speak to him about it, because evidently he went a little overboard. That’s not what you want to do. The equipment is supposed to take the brunt of it. We’ll address that.”
Harper insisted on staying in the game, trotting back to the field for the bottom of the seventh with blood streaming down his face. In the ninth inning, he struck out for the third time, blood still visible on his cheek.
After the game, Harper expressed little regret. “I guess I won’t do it anymore, but I don’t know.”
“I just got caught up in the moment. I want to do so well. It just got me.” -Bryce Harper