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Dear Eli,

I know I haven’t seen you in a couple of weeks. I’ve been traveling a bit and was with your Auntie Elizabeth in California, Oregon, and Washington. We got to see three Red Sox games, and they won two of the three. Not too bad.

Then when I returned, your Washington Nationals were playing two games against that *#!^x* Yankee team. So, of course, I had to go to those two games, Tuesday night and Wednesday night. The Nats won both games by close scores (4-3 and 3-2).

In fact, the Nats are playing really well and with the victories over the Yankees they are now in first place in their Division.

That’s pretty good because in their first 20 games, they only won 7 and lost 13 and were in last place. Then, in their next 21 games they won 17 and only lost 4. So they have gone from last place to first place.

And your favorite player, Bryce Harper, has been a big part of both their losing at the beginning of the season and winning now. In fact, he is now doing so well he has been named “Player of the Week” two weeks in a row. That rarely happens. But he’s been “on fire”, hitting lots of home runs, knocking in runs, and getting on base with a lot of walks.

But that’s where there’s a bit of bad news too.

In the last week, he’s been thrown out of two games for arguing with the umpire. That’s bad news for his team because they need him in the games all the time.

As you may know, one of the rules in baseball is that you cannot argue with the umpire about balls and strikes. If the umpire calls a pitch a strike, even if you think it was not a strike, you cannot disagree. (There are OK ways to let the umpire know you disagree — ask me what they are, and I’ll explain — but you just have to stay in the batter’s box and wait for the next pitch.)

Something happened in the game last night that ended with both Harper and Manager Matt Williams getting thrown out of the game in the third inning (when the Nats were losing 0-2).

The Nats were already upset because they thought umpire Marvin Hudson was calling certain pitches “strikes” that they thought were really “balls”. Harper came up to bat and the first pitch was called a strike. Harper didn’t like that and said so to the umpire, who let him disagree (without throwing him out or warning him).

Then the Nats’ manager and others in the Nats’ dugout were yelling at the ump, who got mad, took off his mask and warned the manager not to argue balls and strikes. He then told Harper to get back in the batter’s box. And that’s where Harper made the mistake that got him thrown out of the game.

Rather than understanding that the umpire was angry and just getting ready to hit again, Harper took his time and confronted the umpire by just going to the edge of the batters box and not getting in it. That’s when the umpire threw him out of the game. (Basically, he ‘argued’ some more — ask me to demonstrate what he did.)


The umpire threw him out and then when the Nats’ manager tried to defend Harper, he threw the manager out too.

As you can imagine, most of the 37,000 fans (not the Yankee fans tho) booed the umpire and seemed to feel the ump was wrong. They wanted Harper to stay in the game.

And the reason I’m writing all this to you is that I know Harper is your favorite player, and I would guess if you had been at the game, you too would have been mad at the umpire.

But I watched closely what was happening, and I disagreed with Harper, the manager, and all the fans who were booing. While I think it’s good that Harper is passionate about baseball and particularly about how good or bad he’s playing, sometimes he goes too far.

Last night was too far. Perhaps his being named “Player of the Week” twice in a row and his terrific hitting is making him think he’s special. But he still has to live by the rules. And the rules say, “No arguing balls and strikes.”  He has to understand that even if he thinks something is unfair, he can’t overreact. The team needs him. And getting thrown out twice in one week is not something a good player can let happen.

Harper is young (just 22 years old), and sometimes young people make mistakes. (Actually people of all ages make mistakes, though young people sometimes make more mistakes and have to learn about how to handle themselves better in difficult situations).

Anyway, your Nats are now in first place. Harper is leading in home runs, runs batted in, and in walks and is a big reason the Nats have gone from last place to first.

Hopefully, he won’t get thrown out of any more games. His team needs him to keep winning.

See you soon,


Grand Papa