When Bryce Harper cracked on baseball needing to loosen up and have more fun, in a magazine profile published during spring training, he had players like Jose Fernandez on his mind as one of those who stood as evidence for the defense. Harper rather admired Fernandez’s ability not to take himself or the game so seriously that it became a job alone, an admiration that came slowly to others.
Before you decide that Bryce Harper needs to beat his gums a little less, when he unhorses a schpritz against baseball getting tired, remind yourself that he really earned his bones on the matter last September. When he called out Jonathan Papelbon for throwing twice at Manny Machado’s head, after Machado had bombed Nationals pitching otherwise, then took it on the throat from Papelbon in a disgraceful incident for which Papelbon got, essentially, a season-ending slap on the wrist.
Dig a little further into just what transpired between Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez and practically the entire Atlanta Braves team Wednesday night. The deeper you dig, the more you begin to get the impression that the Braves’ idea of enforcing proper field decorum is to look even more stupid than the enemy offender does.
And you may also have fallen upon a big key to beating the Braves out of the postseason in the early going, too. Get them rattled enough over actual or alleged infractions against the unwritten rules, actual or alleged, and they’re yours. Just make sure you don’t get any of your players hurt.