Bryce Harper, Marvin Hudson, and the gift of time

No, I wasn’t watching the Nationals and Yankees Wednesday night when things got chippy. But that’s the great thing about Twitter! Somebody’s always watching. So in the space of about three minutes, I learned that a) Bryce Harper got kicked out, b) Matt Williams got kicked out and c) umpire Marvin Hudson is the Antichrist.

No, really! That’s what I learned!

OK, maybe not in so many words. Here’s a representative sampling from my Twitter feed:

You want to count all the assumptions and speciousness there? I mean, with all due respect to some pretty smart guys, some of them actually my friends.

We know what Harper said. No, we don’t! And it matters. Right or wrong, there are just some things you’re not supposed to say to umpires. Part of a player’s job is to know what those things are and not say them. Did Harper say one of them? We don’t know!

Hudson missed the call. It was four inches low. Well, he probably missed the call, but it probably wasn’t four inches low. According to this plot — and granted, a two-dimensional plot can be just as misleading as the television camera — the pitch was more like an inch or two low. Take your thumb and your index finger and hold them an inch-and-a-half apart. Now tell me it’s fair to castigate an umpire for missing a pitch that missed by that much.

We didn’t pay to see the umpire. We pay to see the player. True! But I’m going to stop paying to see anybody at all if the players are allowed to do whatever they like. Was Hudson’s trigger too quick? I don’t know, because I wasn’t there. Believe it or not, umpires are human beings, too. Have you ever reacted inappropriately because someone pushed one of your hot buttons? I have. Everybody has. Umpires take a lot of verbal abuse, but rarely eject the abuser; in fact, as Schoenfield later pointed out, Hudson hadn’t ejected anyone since 2013. But there are emotional and practical reasons to occasionally give someone the heave-ho.

Finally, there was this postgame brilliance:

No. They didn’t. But 40,000 people didn’t specifically come to see you, either. Nearly all of them purchased their tickets well before anyone had any idea that you would look like an MVP in the first two months of the season. Most of them came to see baseball and more specifically their local team.

By the way, their local team wound up winning, which I suspect left most of those 40,000 people pretty happy afterward.

The umpires are official representatives of the game. No single player is bigger than the game, with the possible exception of Babe Ruth in the 1920s. And even then, only in the American League.

With apologies to Jack Curry, baseball’s not basketball. Steph Curry plays a huge role in almost every Warriors game. Harper’s obviously been on one hell of a tear; he entered Wednesday’s game with 10 home runs in his last 12 games. But even when a guy’s on a run like Harper’s, we go to the ballpark hoping to see something special. Not expecting it.

Which is why Harper needs to get over himself, just a little. At least when it comes to the umpires.