Bryce Harper Ejection Shows Why John Hirshbeck Is Worst Umpire (Video)

Fire John Hirschbeck. Or at least start Don't believe me? Just watch this video.


Fire John Hirschbeck. Or at least start Hirshbeck has been a major league umpire for more than a decade, and he is known for making himself the story when he really doesn't have to. Sometimes you can justify it with the notion that it's fun to have cartoonish umpires once in a while, but in practice, cartoonish umpires work better in cartoons, and when they have a real impact on real games (ignoring any oxymoron in "real games" for the timebeing), they don't belong in major league baseball.

Here's the scenario for the video above. First inning, 2-2 on the Washington Nationals best player (and potentially the best player in baseball) Bryce Harper. Harper waves at a breaking ball from Wandy Rodriguez, but tries to hold up. It's a legitimately close checked swing. The catcher asks for an appeal to third base, gets it, third base umpire, the aforementioned John Hirshbeck, calls Harper out, and Harper throws his arms in the air, not speaking, but clearly pissed off.

Let's freeze time there for a moment. The standard protocol for an umpire here is to give the mostly vacant, "sucks for you," stare, and, if he feels like it, explain the call. That explanation would be mostly in gestures in this case, seeing as Hirschbeck and Harper were 120 feet away. Harper's arm gesture was kind of douchey. There are less showy ways to express your displeasure. Here is a gif of said arm flail, provided by Business Insider:

Unfreeze time: here's where things get stupid. Hirshbeck immediately responds to Harper's arm thing with an equivalent arm thing, and starts walking towards Harper and yelling. Harper gives a couple of shoulder shrugs, and seems to be saying "Come on." It's also instructive to look at the body language of the other people involved. Rodriguez doesn't seem to expect anything in particular. He was ready for the next pitch. The home plate umpire is not reacting to Harper. He walks by Harper as if he were a stranger at a bus stop.

That's not what got Harper tossed, however, at least it wasn't the final straw. What pushed Hirshbeck over the edge was that Harper "slammed down his bat and helmet," according to the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore. Have those words in mind, particularly "slammed" when you watch this gif (also from Business Insider) of the slamming in question:

Ah, so by "slammed" he meant "removed in a manner indistinguishable" from most other baseball players. Frustration is evident, to be sure, but evident frustration is nothing close to justifying an ejection. This ejection, however, easily crosses the threshold for disciplinary action against Hirshbeck. And the starting of You start, I'll write for it.

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