Nationals superstar Bryce Harper on Monday night won the 2018 Home Run Derby in his home ballpark and in front of tens of thousands of adoring Nats fans. Making it all the more dramatic is that Harper prevailed over Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber in a hotly contested final round. And that's where the plot thickens. 

Per Derby rules, the pitcher is supposed to wait until each batted ball lands before delivering the next pitch. In Harper's case, he was off Schwarber's final-round pace of 18 home runs by five with less than one minute on the clock. Harper began closing the gap, and as the clock wound down, Harper's pitcher -- his dad, Ron, it should be noted -- appeared to break that "wait until the ball lands" rule on multiple occasions. Have a look:

(Yes, there's a seemingly earnest #Justice4Schwarber hashtag making the rounds, and -- in another modern inevitability -- there's a petition to recognize Schwarber as the rightful Derby champ.) This kind of thing, it should be noted, was not a particularly isolated reaction: 

What's interesting is that there's an ump positioned far behind home plate who signals to the pitcher when it's OK to throw again. By way of example, here's that ump letting Rhys Hoskins' pitcher know that he's free to serve up another one (as said other one has already been served up):

Did you know there is an umpire for the Derby? screengrab

So was Harper's dad ignoring the hold sign from the ump or was the ump "going rogue" and giving him the green light before those baseballs had landed? That, people, is the ultimately unimportant question. 

Also, let it be known that other 2018 Derby participants where not spared from such accusations: 

And, yes, Schwarber himself as at least one righteous accuser out there: 

At this point, two key takeaways: 

  1. Ditch the stupid rule, and let participants pitch and swing with all the haste and impunity they can muster.
  2. It's the Home Run Derby. It's an exercise in fun. If you're Mad Online about any bending of the rules, then your interior life is your own punishment. 

Bryce Harper won the 2018 Home Run Derby.