Longtime radio host Chris Russo delivered another one of his classic rants Tuesday, this time taking aim at Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper. Commissioner Rob Manfred recently admitted he’s not sure if MLB will be able to revive its 2020 campaign amid COVID risks and continued bickering over player salaries and other logistics. In response, a number of MLB stars including Gerrit Cole, Harper, Mike Trout and reigning National League Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso have begun tweeting the rallying cry, “Tell us when and where,” suggesting players are willing to hold a season of any length, provided owners pay them their full freight.
Russo was fine with Trout chiming in on MLB’s continuing labor strife but didn’t want to hear it from Harper, ripping the six-time All-Star for not living up to his enormous contract. “He’s not Gerrit Cole. He got paid $336 million. If you don’t live up to the money and you stink, as he did, I can’t listen to you tell me, “I’m raring to go,’” Russo expressed Tuesday on Mad Dog Unleashed. “How about last year? You were awful. Come on. There is some accountability. Guy is the highest-paid player in the sport and didn’t even make the All-Star team for crying out loud!”
Clearly Mad Dog doesn’t think Harper has earned the right to weigh in, slamming the former first overall pick for falling well short of expectations in 2019. “Stop tweeting when you stunk,” said an exasperated Russo. “If Mike Trout tweets, I’ll live with it. He’s earned it. [Anthony] Rizzo tweets, he’s a champion. I’ll deal with that one. Harper’s done nothing.”
Russo also came at Trevor Bauer, dismissing the outspoken Reds starter for his various on-field controversies including last year’s outburst when he flung a ball into the center-field seats. “Bauer’s another one. You know I asked [Terry] Francona about Bauer throwing the ball to the center-field bleachers when he gotten taken out of game,” said Mad Dog, who lived up to his name and then some with Tuesday’s on-air explosion. “Or when he played around with a drone and broke his finger, bleeding to death on the mound in Toronto. Ask the Reds how that trade worked out.”
While Trout and Rizzo survived Russo’s rant unscathed, Manny Machado and Rockies left-hander Kyle Freeland weren’t as lucky. “Machado, I don’t want to hear from him either,” said the Sirius host. “And then they got [Kyle] Freeland, who was in the minor leagues last year and stunk up the joint for the Rockies. I gotta’ listen to him. How about win a few ball games?”
While Harper’s debut season in Philadelphia wasn’t his best, he certainly didn’t “stink.” In fact, the 114 runs Harper plated last year were a career-high. Russo may have misplaced his rage, spouting venom at Harper in Tuesday’s blowup when Manfred and MLB’s stingy owners were the ones truly deserving of his wrath. Needless to say, baseball’s stressful labor crisis seems to have everyone on edge.