Rafael Soriano Bashes Teammate Bryce Harper For Miscue
One of three things happens when a good team starts to lose. 1. The team rallies behind a leader who portrays a greater poise. 2. The manager makes minor adjustments in the lineup to make sure the team is running on all cylinders. 3. Frustration sets in and fingers start to be pointed, in either the direction of another player or at the player himself. The latter took place after the Nationals devastating loss to the Giants last night.
Quoting from USA Today:
“With two outs and the tying run at first, you have to play the outfield so the ball doesn’t go over your head,” Soriano said in Spanish.
“It may not have been a catch-able ball, but if we’re positioned the right way, there might have been a different outcome. With two outs, I could tell my four-year-old son, ‘You know where you need to play,’ and he would go to the right spot to make the play. It’s not an excuse, and I’m not speaking badly about anybody, but I think that’s how you play the game.”
Whoa there Raf, it sure sounds like you are speaking badly of poor 20 year old Nevadan Bryce. It is understandable to see where Soriano is coming from when reviewing these comments. He is a closer, his job depends on having a 0.00 ERA and he relies on seven guys behind him to make sure his job gets done. When a closer gives up the game tying run a rush of emotions occur; failure, anger, blame, determination, and even resignation. For Soriano it was anger and blame.
The first question we must ask is if Mr. Soriano is justified in criticizing Harper. For you non-baseball fans reading this, when you have the tying run at first late in the game you should be in a defensive position that prevents no doubles. A no doubles formation is simply playing deep and cheating to the side of the field that the hitter likes to hit. Bryce was probably not playing as deep as he should have, and that can be agreed on, but there are several factors on why Bryce may not have been positioned correctly. The manager could have relayed a field position to Harper, the catcher may have made a call, or Bryce may have made the call himself. We do not know who made that call, but the catcher or the manager should have seen it and corrected it if Bryce was out of position that badly.
Let`s take into consideration Harper`s point of view. This is a rookie mistake. Many young athletic players play shallow because in high school, college, and the minors they are able to use their speed to catch up to the ball. Major league hitters are a different ball game. The ball`s velocity is much higher and harder to read. Bryce is a very good outfielder, and has made several outstanding plays, but don`t forget the play he didn’t make on the 14th.
The young Harper mis-judged the distance of that non-padded wall completely and ran full speed into it. This scary incident left Bryce on the ground bleeding for a few moments and he reassured all his fans that the play would not affect his all-or-nothing approach to the game. A week later we saw that Bryce`s sub-conscious is still trying to forget that bone jarring occurrence, and even Harper acknowledged it.
“Absolutely,” said Harper, acknowledging the fact he should have made the catch.”Of course it crosses your mind after you jam into a wall, and it doesn’t really feel very good. It sucks not making the play. I totally put that loss on me.”
As you can see, Bryce was bracing himself for the wall that was still 5 yards away. His body still remembered the brutal hit and went into a defensive stance, albeit Bryce didn’t want it to.
After all is said and done, the baseball gods look on and Bryce will still have an outstanding career. However, I must question Soriano`s method. I understand that he is frustrated on a blown save and even he admitted that the ball may not have been catchable, but you don`t sound off on a young player who is already feeling like everybody in cleats hates him. He is your teammate, your best asset to the team, and the future of the club. I know he doesn`t get a few beers with Bryce, that would be a clown question anyways, considering the fact that Soriano doesn`t even speak English, but you need to cool off and find your happy place before you create future rifts in a star studded clubhouse. C`mon Raf, you allowed the single and you admitted that you hung that sinker that Bryce couldn’t get to. Bryce is taking the criticism like a veteran, learn from his example.
For those who don`t watch SportsCenter, here is what it looked like.