Bryce Harper wasn't exactly in love with third base umpire John Hirschbeck's call in the first inning of Sunday's game between the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park, resulting in the second ejection of Harper's young career.
Harper was facing Pirates starter Wandy Rodriguez with two outs and a 2-2 count in the first inning when ejected. Rodriguez threw Harper a curveball that appeared to be a strike regardless, but the home plate umpire did not make the call.
The appeal was made to Hirschbeck, who proceeded to call strike three.
As you can see from video linked above, it was a close call. He did lunge for the baseball, but it was definitely a borderline swing. The issue here isn't the call, though. The issue is that Hirschbeck appeared to seek out Harper with intentions of ejecting him.
I can't put words in his mouth, nor can I put thoughts in his head. All I'm suggesting is that Hirschbeck could have handled the strike three with much more professionalism. Harper simply threw his hands up in disgust at the call, at which point Hirschbeck mimicked the motion and took a few steps towards him.
Hirschbeck then got visibly (and likely audibly, for those who were on the field) upset with Harper and tossed him from the game. Davey Johnson then rushed onto the field to settle the situation down.
In response, Harper simply slammed his bat to the ground and stormed off the field without a word.
Did Hirschbeck go too far?
It did not appear as if Harper did anything extraordinarily offensive to deserve an ejection. Arguing balls and strikes is certainly a no-no in baseball, but that doesn't mean you can't show a little disgust at a questionable call.
This is not the first time this season there has been a questionable player/umpire encounter. Just recently, David Price and umpire Tom Hallion got into an argument over whether one of Price's offerings was a strike or not. Hallion ejected Price from the game (along with Matt Moore and Jeremy Hellickson) and called him a "liar" in a postgame conference.
I'm sure more information will come out later on in the week in regards to Harper's ejection. Hirschbeck did appear to take things to the extreme rather quickly, but we'll have to hear both sides of the story before making any assumptions.