Recently, I saw an article on MLB.com where Nationals manager Dave Martinez says he “has no beef with Bryce Harper” after the outfielder jogged “most likely out of frustration” during a routine double play. He went on to say that he would have a discussion with Harper over the lack of hustle.
Now, I might be new to this whole posting thing but I am not new to the sport of baseball. I have been watching it my entire life and it frequently plays leapfrog with hockey for being my favorite sport. I also remember as a child playing little league that we were always told to “run it out” when it came to any batted ball. Didn’t matter if it went right to a player, you ran it out.
What happened where so many of these players forget simple basics like this? Not saying that all of them are guilty but I see so many instances where a guy just lollygags his way down the line on a pop-up, or my personal favorite, stand in the batters box thinking you just hit a home run and you end up with a single because you didn’t start running immediately. Had the batter taken off from the beginning, they could have had a double or even triple depending on speed. But instead, much like in football, the player had to take a few moments to revel in their own glory over a fairly routine play. If you want to admire a home run that clears the stadium itself, feel free. That doesn’t happen often.
I don’t care how much money these guys are making while playing a game. Not talking about the Mets vs. Nationals game. I’m talking about the fact that they make millions of dollars playing a game that children can play too. When you break down some of these salaries, they make more money per at bat than some people will make their entire year.
With that kind of money, frustration or no, you need to hustle. And honestly, money has nothing to do with it. It’s your job. No one else can decide when or if they want to do their best at the job. We don’t get that luxury.
From a practical standpoint, the more hustle you display on the bases and the faster that you run down to first, the more pressure you put on the defenders. The second baseman was able to completely set his feet and throw to first in the same way that he would play catch with his kid. There was no urgency in the throw because there was no need to have any urgency. Meanwhile, had Harper actually hustled down the line, it puts more pressure to make a better throw. Not saying he would have been safe on such a sharply hit ground ball, but running hard down the line maybe makes you get beat by a step rather than 10 feet.
In the end, you’re paid to perform and not be lazy because you feel frustrated or things aren’t going your way. Sometimes you gotta keep working hard to make your own breaks happen.