There seems to be something about the Nationals, Florida, and pine tar because they can never seem to get away from the stuff, which always inevitably proves to make an interesting story. Add Ozzie Guillen–who has a known volatile personality–to the mix and you’re bound to end up with something crazy with a slight mix of an explosive feeling.
During yesterday’s game at the Miami Marlins, while Bryce Harper was at-bat in the top of the first inning, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen didn’t take a liking to how much pine tar the 19-year old rookie had on his bat. The umpires had Harper change his bat, and when he came to bat in the top of the fourth inning Harper pointed his bat to the Marlins dugout.
Guillen apparently didn’t like Harper directly addressinghimwith the issue. He began yelling at Harper, then manager Davey Johnson and grabbed a bat, shaking it at the direction of Harper and the Nationals. Somewhere in between Guillen’s antics, he spewed profanities at Harper and the Nationals as well.
After the game, Guillen didn’t directly address what he said to Harper, only saying that “I was just telling Harper how cute it was. Something happened there the inning before and I didn’t like it and I was talking to the umpire about it.”
Guillen went further to call Harper “unprofessional” when Bryce pointed his bat and mockingly examined it.
“What he did [today] was unprofessional. I’m not going to tell you guys what he did because I’m not going to be talking about it on ESPN, Baseball Tonight, what happened again. I’ll just leave it like that. I’ll talk to his manager in a little while.”
Bryce Harper, to his credit avoided the controversy and verbal war the best he could, saying “He battles for his team, and that’s the type of manager Ozzie is. He’s a great manager to play for. He’s going to battle for you, no matter what. That’s a manager you want to play for.”
The debate of pine tar on bats isn’t new and is most notably associated with George Brett. However, unlike the Brett’s situation (in which he hit the go-ahead home run against the Yankees), Harper didn’t do anything in his controversial at-bats and ended up going 0-4 in the Nationals win.
At the time that Ozzie Guillen got worked up over the supposed excess of pine tar, the game was scoreless. It seemingly would have made more sense for Guillen to bring the pine tar to the attention to the umpires if Harper had done something during his at-bat that could have possibly been considered suspicious.
But perhaps was Guillen trying to get under Harper’s skin? Considering the Nationals faced the Marlins the two previous nights as well as in other season match ups, it wasn’t methodically well timed either.
Guillen is already known as a loose cannon. One Nationals player even said, “Ozzie yells a lot. You don’t even pay attention.”
After the game, Marlins outfield Logan Morrison praised his manager for taking “the high road” when thinking of the situation that occurred in the game and the one earlier in the summer between the Nationals and Rays. However, it was Guillen who made (and blew up) the pine tar an issue before it should have become one. Also, it was Guillen who began yelling profanities at Harper and the Nationals after Harper simply pointed his bat.
While there are those who could consider Harper pointing his bat to Guillen cocky or “unprofessional,” think if this would be nearly as big of a deal if another player made the same motion to Guillen. It wouldn’t be.
All of this just begs the question of who really handled things professionally–or unprofessionally–for that matter.
Other good stuff:
- The Nationals and Marlins wrap up their four game series tonight.
- Your eyes weren’t deceiving you, Danny Espinosa was at shortstop yesterday with Ian Desmond getting some time off to rest that oblique.
- Separate troubles in closer paradise yesterday. Drew Storen’s having a tough go of it out there. Plus, Tyler Clippard made a mess of things in the ninth, but magically escaped.
- Bryce Harper, the garden gnome. The resemblance is uncanny!