Washington Nationals teenager Bryce Harper had a petulant moment Sunday afternoon when he smashed his bat on home plate during a moment of anger against the Florida Marlins. Harper was mad at himself for missing a nasty pitch by right-hander Ricky Nolasco in the fourth inning, so he took out his frustrations on the piece of equipment that was obviously responsible:
Just like Bamm-Bamm Rubble. Bo Jackson used to break bats over his knee, and that's often the preferred method today. But it's not too often you'll see a lad smash his bat so effectively. Ah, but it was a self-teaching moment for the kid, who realized that his actions made Marlins catcher John Buck flinch from the splintery fallout. Harper apologized his next time up, as reporter Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel noted:
"I saw it hit and that's why I kind of jumped away," Buck said. "He told me he was really sorry, it was terrible. I told him, 'Don't worry about it. I did the same thing, but when I was your age it was a metal bat and I was in high school.' It's a learning experience for him. He's just having to do it in front of the eyes of the whole country and the world. I bet you he probably won't do that any more."
The nickname hasn't gotten a lot of traction yet, but some on the Nationals call Harper "Bamm-Bamm." They presumably do it for his youth, his strength and his enthusiasm — traits shared by the famous cartoon character. Also, by accident or not, Harper's given names — Bryce Aron Max — happen to spell out "B.A.M." (It's nearly perfect. His folks just needed to give him one more middle name. Marshall, perhaps.)
It's also worth noting Nolasco's reaction after Harper shattered his bat: See him shaking his head? Not because Harper made Buck flinch, but because Harper had the audacity to imply, through his actions, that it was a bad pitch. While it was out of the strike zone, it was a great breaking ball, something any good hitter could have missed. From Nolasco's point of view, Harper was showing Nolasco disrespect, and he was still upset about it afterward. From the Palm Beach Post:
Nolasco didn't appreciate Harper's reaction after the strikeout. "No comment,'' Nolasco said when asked about it.
Ah, jeez, somebody bring Harper back here. He's got one more apology to dole out. To be fair, Nolasco might have been a little grumpy because the Nats won 4-1.