Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper

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Bernstein: Bryce Harper's Bat Flip Good For The Game

More expression on the baseball diamond is what fans want.

Dan Bernstein
April 03, 2019 - 1:41 pm
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(670 The Score) If that guy in that moment can't do that thing, we're doing it wrong.

Bryce Harper returned to Washington on Tuesday night for the first time since signing with Philadelphia, and he endured the expected rough ride from jilted Nationals fans still salty about him choosing a 13-year, $330-million deal with a divisional rival. There were all the boos and all the snarky signs and louder than usual cheering when Max Scherzer struck him out in both the first and the third innings. But the night belonged to Harper after he came to the plate in the eighth inning.

With his team leading 6-2, Harper uncoiled on a Jeremy Hellickson fastball that got too much of the plate, driving it 458 feet with a launch angle of 27 degrees and an exit velocity of 111.5 mph, per Statcast. It was the fifth-longest homer he has hit since such data started being collected officially in 2015, and what resonated was how he finished it off.

As he admired the trajectory of his cannon shot, Harper held the barrel of the bat in his right hand, then released it upward and in the direction of the Nationals' dugout on the first-base side, allowing it to complete nearly four full end-over-end rotations before hitting the ground as he began his trot.

And more of this would be great, particularly from baseball's best and most naturally expressive players.  

"It's the emotion of the game," Harper explained.

And if you think the pushback is coming from opponents and colleagues decrying such showmanship, think again. Even the crusty old-timers seem to know that baseball culture is changing for the better, and they're evolving to accept the kind of flair common in other countries where it's understood that it's all supposed to be entertainment in the first place.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo appeared on Washington's 106.7 The Fan on Wednesday morning, and he made it clear that he's aware of the way the winds of change (and fun) are blowing.

"Bat flips today, I would sound too much like a dinosaur if we talk about bat flips, because everyone flips, everyone stares," he said. "You hit a ball that far, you do whatever the hell you want. The best way to stop those kind of bat flips is get him out."

Amen. An emotional player responded emotionally in a dramatic moment, and there's no longer a time or place for anyone who has some stupid problem with it.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in middays. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.​​​​