Bryce Harper mysteriously disappeared from the Washington Nationals game against the Cardinals. There was speculation that he had re-injured himself. But after the game, Matt Williams made it clear that Harper was pulled for lack of hustle. And Williams made quite a big deal of the decision.
Williams indicated that he had an agreement with Harper about the way the game was played and Harper did not hold up his end of the bargain. Williams then went on to say that later in the game, Harper was not in the game in a situation where Harper could have helped the Nationals win which was unfortunate with his fellow players.
I have three basic problems with this entire situation:
- Harper has always been known as a hustling player. If anything, complaints in the past have been that Harper plays too hard!
- The play in question was a when Harper hit a one bounce comeback hit to the pitcher. Even if Harper hustled, he would not have gotten half way to first before the play was over.
- Williams called out a player, or an employee if you will, in public.
Matt Williams made a classic mistake that new managers often make in the real world. Being newly in charge, new managers think they have to be tough and forget all about what it was like to be an employee.
In the real world, you never want to call an employee out in the public and in front of their peers. Embarrassment leads to inner anger as it is a blow to the ego. Discipline is always best handled in private in a closed door meeting.
Williams clearly overplayed his hand in this situation and it will be interesting to see if his actions will lead to problems in the clubhouse going forward.