After Bryce Harper and San Francisco’s Hunter Strickland squared off during Monday’s game, Nationals manager Dusty Baker defended his outfielder’s decision to charge the mound in response to being hit by a 98-mph fastball.
“It looked intentional to me,” Baker told reporters. “What’s a man supposed to do?”
Phrasing the question like that implies there’s one answer with no viable alternative – at least for a “real” man. But Harper admitted he had a choice in the matter: “You either go to first base, or you go after him,” he told reporters. “And I decided to go after him.”
I understand why batters get upset when they’re plunked on purpose. Asking them to grin-and-bear it 100 percent of the time is asking them to be robots. If that were the case, fastballs wouldn’t hurt.