Earlier this week, the Philadelphia Phillies clinched a wild-card spot, and because they're locked in as the No. 4 seed, their remaining regular season games are meaningless. They can't improve their postseason position (or hurt it) any further.
That doesn't mean their games will lack excitement, however. Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates (GameTracker), Bryce Harper was ejected for arguing a rather egregious check swing strike three call. He let third base umpire Angel Hernandez have it, and, as he walked back to the dugout, Harper flung his helmet into the crowd. Check it out:
Mr. Harper can expect a fine for that, possibly even a suspension. A suspension would cover regular seasons games only, it should be noted. He would not have to miss games in the postseason, not that a lengthy ban should be expected. One game, maybe two.
"Angel in the middle of something again," Harper said after the game (per NBC Sports Philadelphia). "It's every year, same story, same thing. It's the same thing over and over and over again. I'm probably going to get fined for being right, again."
For what it's worth, a check swing is not defined in the rulebook. A swing is defined as an "attempt to strike the ball," and that's it. All that stuff you hear about "breaking the plane" or "rolling your wrists" is made up. That's not in the rulebook. Hernandez determined Harper attempted to strike the ball, so he called it a check swing. To each his own.
As for the helmet, a 10-year-old fan caught it, and Harper signed it for him. Check it out:
Here is Hayden Dorfman, age 10, who caught the helmet Harper threw after he was ejected tonight. A few security guards approached him and told him Harper wanted to sign it.— Alex Coffey (@byalexcoffey) September 29, 2023
He said Harper is his favorite player and added that this is “the best baseball game he’s ever been to” pic.twitter.com/uq4J3Ylhwf
That's a good day at the ballpark for that kid. Harper made a baseball fan -- and a Bryce Harper fan -- for life.
Harper entered Thursday's game with a .296/.402/.503 with 21 home runs in 124 games since returning from Tommy John surgery. That includes a .300/.415/.593 batting line in the second half.