MASN - The joy and charisma that so defined him when he burst onto the scene as a teenager had all but disappeared, replaced by a gruff, brooding and sometime defiant 25-year-old who quite simply didn’t seem to be enjoying himself very much.
And then came tonight’s Home Run Derby at Nationals Park. It’s a made-for-TV event, a kind of silly contest that doesn’t really prove anything and most star sluggers have decided to eschew out of fear of injury or negative impact on their swings.
But for Harper, it served as something of a reminder of what he used to be and what he still can be.
It was a show, and nobody loves to put on a show on a baseball diamond more than Bryce Harper.
“But off the field, that’s the kid you see out there tonight. And I was fortunate to share that with you guys and show that to the fans. This wasn’t only for me and my family and everything like that. But this is for, you know, the cook. The guy that works the front. And the people that work upstairs. I mean, this is the whole city of D.C. I was very fortunate to be able to bring this back to them and do it here.”
How special? How about nine homers – including eight on eight swings – in 47 seconds special? That’s what Harper did to get to 18 homers and tie Schwarber.
Yes, it’s just home run derby. In the grand scheme of things it means little to none (but doesn’t everything in life mean little to none anyway?). But last night, if you watched, it felt like more than just HR Derby. It felt special. It was Josh Hamilton going bananas at Yankee Stadium. It was Todd Frazier winning in Cincy. But it was bigger, because it was Bryce, in front of his home crowd as an All Star for perhaps the last time, reminding everyone why he became so big of a star to begin with. Yeah, his season stinks this year. And he’s under the constant microscope of “where will he be going next year?” But last night he did what everyone fell in love with him for- putting up big swings, in a big moment, with the crowd going nuts, and hair looking great. It was a moment only a guy like Bryce could pull off, hitting 8 homers on 8 swings, and staging a huge come from behind victory over Schwarber to bring home the hardware.
And the moment was made better by his father who could have finished in 2nd if he felt like lacing them up
All in all, a pretty cool night. Save for the people who take HR Derby VERY SERIOUSLY and were quite upset that Bryce may have taken a swing a half second early. We have dudes breaking down tape like it’s the god damn Kennedy assassination. We’re talking about HR Derby here, chief.
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