Just when I was about to put aside my feelings about Bryce Harper and accept him as perhaps the best player in baseball, which he may very well be, and look upon him as the new Face Of The Game, he pulls a stunt like he did this weekend by barking at an umpire and earning himself a well-deserved one game suspension.
Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with him bitching over a strike call and getting tossed from a game. Happens to everyone. I do have a problem with him coming on to the field at the end of the game to celebrate a walk-off win and then seeking out and barking out an obscenity to the umpire.
Harper is the kind of player (Pete Rose, Tom Brady, Hines Ward) that you love if he plays for your team and intensely dislike if he plays for the Other Guys. If he played for the Pirates, I would probably be defending him, but he doesn't, so to me, he's nothing but a spoiled brat punk, and if MLB wants HIM to become the Face Of The Game, they better think again.
The Players Championship tees off today in Ponte Vedre, always a fun event to watch. It is doubly in the news because this will be the first event in which Jordan Spieth will compete since his fourth round back nine meltdown at Augusta. It has been well reported that Spieth spent a portion of his time after the Masters "recovering" while on a golf vacation in the Bahamas with fellow pros Rickie Fowler, Smylie Kaufman, and Justin Thomas.
It was reported that this foursome played at times while shirtless and not wearing shoes, and while it was not reported, I am willing to bet that large quantities of beer were involved. Now, it you were on vacation and playing top dollar greens fees at a high end golf resort and encountered a group of twenty-somethings on the course acting out like this, you would no doubt report them to the marshals or pro shop and really really hope that they would be thrown off of the course.
Now, I am not ready to equate Jordan Spieth and his pals with Bryce Harper, but I wonder what people like Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus would have to say about this, and Tiger Woods has been pilloried for far less egregious on course behavior (and, yeah, I know Woods cheated on his wife; this isn't about that.). Yes, Spieth and his buddies are still just kids, and are as entitled to let their hair down as much as anyone, but they are also kids making multi-millions of dollars playing tournament golf. They should be held to a higher standard than the guys from Animal House.