The big news yesterday and today should have been the MLB Entry Draft. Unfortunately, Washington Nationals uber-prospect Bryce Harper took matters into his own, well, lips, garnering attention not for the home run he hit yesterday against the Greensboro Grasshoppers (Grasshoppers? Really?), but for the kiss he blew toward Greensboro pitcher Zachary Neal as he trotted toward home plate.
Harper continues to dominate the South Atlantic League, as his .342/.435/.623 slash with 14 home runs, 42 RBIs and 12 stolen bases will attest. Today, he was selected to the SALLY All-Star game in Salisbury, MD on June 21, along with teammates Blake Kelso, David Freitas, Taylor Jordan and Christopher Manno.
But all anyone wants to talk about is "The Kiss".
It is yet another mark against Harper and his on-field attitude. He has garnered nothing but glowing reviews from his teammates and front office personnel, and he's been fantastic with young fans in Hagerstown and stops all across the league. But he continues to taunt opponents when provoked. And he is being provoked. Every pitcher that faces him wants a piece of him, and this series with Greensboro has been especially contentious, with three batters -- including Harper -- hit on Sunday.
But it's no excuse.
Earlier this season, he stared down a pitcher after he crossed home plate on a home run, prompting both benches to clear. This type of continued activity is only going to come back to bite Harper -- or one of his teammates. He going to taunt the wrong guy at one point and either he or a teammate is going to get a fastball in the earflap. No one's been hurt -- yet. But it's only a matter of time.
Baseball has always found a way to put players that think they're above the game in their place. Harper will be no different. It's one thing to be competitive. It's one thing to show emotion and play with fire and intensity. It's another thing completely to taunt your opponent in a professional setting. I know he's only 18-years old and he's still growing emotionally. But the time for these antics to stop -- once and for all -- has come.
Harper needs to realize that every single thing he does on the baseball field -- good and bad -- will be posted on YouTube before that game is even over. Someone he respects needs to sit him down and tell him to turn the other cheek when challenged on the field before someone gets seriously hurt.