Header photo: Kelley Cox, USA Today
By the time you read this, you’ve probably read a few hundred, if not thousand, words on the Bryce Harper/Hunter Strickland hair fight and ensuing bench-clearing brawl. I want to submit a theory on a specific aspect of the brawl that I’m not sure anyone has mentioned yet (warning: this is facetious).
A bit of background on the brawl. Way back in 2014, when Strickland debuted for the Giants and threw 7 innings in the regular season, he allowed multiple dingers to Harper in the NLDS, a series that ultimately did not matter because of #EvenYearBlackMagic. Since then, Harper and Strickland have not seen each other in a professional setting, but things boiled over today when Harper stepped in this afternoon, late in a close ballgame between the Nats and Giants. Strickland put one right in Harper’s hip pocket, a pitch so accurate that there’s no way it couldn’t be unintentional, but at the same time, it’s hard to believe any pitcher is petty enough to bean someone in a close game two and a half years later. Whether you find it intentional or not, Harper took exception to the pitch and charged Strickland, “throwing” his helmet at Strickland and then throwing punches at the air until the rest of the team got involved. Both will likely be suspended for multiple games.
A few things I found so interesting:
- Hair. I’m growing my hair out until my wedding, so I’ve had a growing appreciation for hair in the past few months. I tweeted out a poll of who had the best hair in MLB (hint: it’s Taylor Motter) and watching all the hair fly between these two teams was quite enjoyable.
YOU’RE ON THE SAME TEAM pic.twitter.com/3OK1qMh4HQ
— Hannah Keyser (@HannahRKeyser) May 29, 2017
- The above tweet not only has great hair but leads me to my next point: teammates. There were so many camo jerseys flying around that no one knew who was who. Punches were thrown and players were tackled but outside of the first riff between Strickland and Harper, they weren’t all productive. In the heat of the moment, though, hitting the opponent isn’t always important, just hit ANYTHING!
- Check out my boy Buster Posey just let it happen. Those knee savers must weight too much for him to run.
Buster Posey: “Nah.” pic.twitter.com/qf4oVFvVTi
— Drew Silva (@drewsilv) May 29, 2017
- If I had to declare a winner, I’d give it to Strickland. Harper charged the mound and did get a punch in on Strickland’s cap (?) but, Strickland got the first blow to Harper’s head and facial region. That said, it was NOTHING compared to Nolan Ryan’s decimation of Robin Ventura in 1993. Who in their right mind would challenge 46-year old grumpy Texas man Nolan Ryan?
The title says I have a serious (not really that serious) theory about Harper’s fighting, and that’s what you came here for. After Harper charged the mound, he attempted to throw his helmet at Strickland, rightfully so given the frustration. The thing is, the throw was absolutely horrible; we’re talking about throwing with your non-dominant hand bad; we’re talking trying to throw yogurt bad; we’re talking teaching a young otter to throw bad.
A+ helmet throw from Bryce Harper here pic.twitter.com/tZYsrThyMR
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 29, 2017
My theory: Bryce Harper reverted to dodgeball in gym class tactics here – and if that’s the case, he deserves a promotion to five-star general for battlefield strategy. Every dodgeball game has different house rules of course, but one of the obvious rules states if a player catches a thrown ball on the fly, the thrower is out. To take advantage of this rule, players will often lob a ball softly into the air to distract the other team – they see a ball that is easily catchable and camp under in order to eliminate an opponent. Once the ball is lofted into the air, however, the same player will quickly get another ball and throw a laser at the opponent attempting to catch the lob. Their attention is diverted to the lob and they don’t see the cannon coming at their face (the no headshots rule is a farce if you ask me, thanks Obama).
That’s what I think Harper was doing with his helmet. Harper doesn’t have a bad arm by any means; he has 47 career assists from the outfield, and his arm has positively influenced his DRS totals throughout his career, so it’s not like his arm is a total liability. It’s a conundrum that his helmet went further to the right than it did forward, so I think he used the bad throw to distract Strickland, or at the very least, get him off balance. If he can get Strickland to flinch and bring up one of his legs to protect his manhood, then it makes for an easier target because he’s off-balance. Ever heard of a boxer that chooses to fight on one foot? No, he/she has no balance (unless it’s kickboxing, in which case you can’t kick with both feet on the ground).
Whatever Harper’s intentions, it didn’t work. I think his helmet hit the first base umpire. And he still ended up getting punched in the face. Are they even now?
Thanks for reading.