"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Tag: bryce harper

Toon Town

We usually refrain from mixing sports with politics round these parts but this here column about Bryce Harper by Charlie Pierce over at Esquire.com is worth a look.

Good n Lucky (Or is it Lucky n Good?)

Hard to feel confident about your team winning a game in extra innings when they are on the road. The longer the game goes, the deeper into the bullpen your team digs, the greater the feeling of doom. Which is why I stepped out to go to the grocery score when the Yankees didn’t score in the top of the 12th inning today. I’d spent the afternoon in front of the TV, missed the better part of a gorgeous afternoon, and if the Yanks were going to lose the game, I didn’t know that I had the heart to watch.

What’s the worst that could happen if I let it be?

I didn’t even bring my phone with me to the store. Yet when I got home our boys held a 5-3 lead going into the bottom of the 14th. Mark Teixeira got the big hit, a two-run double against Brad Lidge. Jayson Nix hit an infield single to deep short to start the frame and then Derek Jeter failed to lay down a bunt on the first two pitches he saw. But he fouled pitches off and took some more; soon the count was full then Jeter hit a ground ball single himself. It was a stubborn, resilient at bat, and Jeter’s first hit in seven trips to the plate.

Lidge recovered to strike out Curtis Granderson and he got ahead of Teixeira but then hung one and the Yankee first baseman lined a ball to the right field corner.

Rafael Soriano wasn’t smooth and two men were on base when he got Bryce Harper to ground out to end the game. I thought Harper, 0-6 with five strikeouts at that point, would fulfill an ESPN highlight clip that I had running in my mind, but he did not. After the game, Washington’s manager Davey Johnson said that for the first time this year, Harper chased pitches out of the strike zone, anxious to make something happen.

By the time the game was over and Freddy Garcia, sixth of seven Yankee pitchers, was the improbable winner, the startrtd, Jordan Zimmerman and Andy Pettitte were a vague memory. Both pitched well. Zimmerman reminds me of Matt Cain. He’s got great stuff but the Yankees made him work and he was out of the game after six innings.

One thing about Zimmerman, he made two excellent plays in the field. The first, after catching a line drive, had him making a pinpoint throw to the shortstop as they tried to double Eric Chavez off second. The next play was another throw, this one home, that nailed Nick Swisher (Swisher’s leg collided with the catcher’s knee and the cheerful outfielder’s day was done).

Pettitte was outstanding, again, and held a 3-2 lead after seven. He’d thrown 95 pitches but with three right handed hitters coming up in the eighth inning was pulled in favor of Corey Wade who retired the first two batters on two pitches. He got ahead of Ian Desmond 0-2 and then threw a bad pitch, a meatball that missed its target by plenty. Desmond smacked a 400 foot home run and the game was tied. After a walk to Tyler Moore, Boone Logan relieved Wade. Dwayne Wise, who’d replaced Raul Ibanez in left to start the inning, shifted to right and Nix went to left. Adam LaRoche was the pinch hitter and he singled to right. Wise fielded the ball and made a strong throw home. Russell Martin tagged Moore for the third out.

It was a stirring play for the Yankees as well as a lucky one as the replays showed that Moore was safe. But this is how it goes when you are on a wining streak–luck is on your side. Right now, the Yanks have more than a little bit of luck. Everything is going their way. We’ll take it.

Oh, yeah, this was their first win all season without hitting a home run. Tomorrow they go for their ninth straight.

Unt we am Heppy Kets.

Final Score: Yanks 5, Nats 3.

[Photo Credit: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images]

Say Hey, Dude

He’s been fun to watch so far, huh?

[Photo Credit: ktkyletaylor via It's a Long Season]

The New New King of Swing

Will Leitch on Bryce Harper in the new issue of GQ:

What makes Harper far more anticipated than your typical phenom is a sense that he not only recognizes the vastness of his potential but also feels plenty comfortable telling you about it. One minute he informs me that “baseball needs more superstars.” The next, while discussing Albert Pujols signing with the Angels, he offers thoughtlessly, “Albert and I know each other and respect each other.” In a sport in which “paying your dues” is practically in the job description—an institution that once made Michael Jordan ride around in a bus for five months—Harper seems to have emerged fully formed to piss off the baseball establishment.

On his way up, he didn’t shrink from his sometime moniker, the LeBron of baseball. He poured vats of eye black on his face to make himself look like a professional wrestler. In a minor league game last year, after hitting a home run, he blew a kiss to the opposing pitcher. (Harper tells me, “It was an ‘eff you’ from the mouth.”) That’s the sort of business that will get a major leaguer a fastball in his ear. As Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt put it: “I would think at some point the game itself, the competition on the field, is going to have to figure out a way to police this young man.”

In other words: Harper is awesome—exactly what baseball needs. He’s essentially a throwback: a cocky, ornery cuss who can back it all up. Ty Cobb minus the racism and chaw, Lenny Dykstra before the bankruptcy. He tells me Pete Rose, a.k.a. Charlie Hustle, is his favorite player and that “I want to play the game hard. I want to ram it down your throat, put you into left field when I’m going into second base.”

[Photo Via The Baseball Analysts]

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver