Culture

The Corner

Of Course Bryce Harper Was Right To Charge the Mound

In response to Coming to a City Near You

I’m not saying that my good friend and colleague Alexandra DeSanctis hates America, but I suspect she might just hold it in mild contempt. After all, who’s against sports moments like this: 

Too much, you say? A stretch, you say? Hardly. A mound-charging fight is as American as baseball itself. It’s part of the unwritten rules of the game. This is no choke-slam of a bespectacled Guardian reporter, it’s part of the inevitable and time-honored tradition of the sport. In fact, every sport allows for players — aggressive athletes who are laying their bodies on the line each time they take the field — to enforce norms (which often exist for player safety) through actions which would be otherwise unacceptable outside the lines and after the game. Let’s not forget, Hunter Strickland hit Harper with a 98 mile-per-hour fastball. A man’s got a right to defend himself.

What’s a “no layups” order in basketball other than a directive to commit barely disguised assault on an NBA athlete? Doubt me? Try clotheslining a rude stranger in a parking lot and see how long you remain a free man. And, by the way, each sport has unwritten rules that govern how even the unwritten rules are enforced. It’s one thing to run up to the mound and engage a man in a fair fight. It’s another thing entirely to run up with the bat. That would be absurd. I’d join Alexandra in the chorus of condemnation.

That’s not to say that Harper’s charge was the only way to punish Strickland. It would be acceptable to crush Strickland’s next fastball into the upper deck, follow the home run with a majestic bat flip, and then spend the entire trip around the bases verbally humiliating him, but that’s no sure thing. If the past is any indication, it might be years before Harper faced Strickland again. Harper knew he could charge the mound, so he charged the mound. 

Alexandra does have a powerful ally in her corner – corporate baseball. Major League Baseball suspended Harper, thereby proving it can be as big of a killjoy as the NFL (No Fun League), NHL, and NBA. Let the players play. 

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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