Harper does everything hard. During his first series with the Nats last weekend in Los Angeles, he ran into the outfield wall so hard you could hear it on television. I was reminded of Bump Bailey in “The Natural” — except Bump went right through the wall. And died.
But Harper is more Roy Hobbs than Bump Bailey, if Hobbs wore a lot of eye black and an interesting hair cut. (And let’s be clear: I couldn’t care less how he wears his hair. He’s still technically a teenager. Leave him be. Besides, if he continues to play this way, barbers across the DMV will have to learn that particular . . . I hesitate to call it a “style,” but whatever it is, because a segment of the population will be hopping in the chair and requesting “The Harper.”)
Despite Harper’s steal, the Nationals lost Sunday night, 9-3, but they won the series. In fact, they’ve won every series but one — they were swept by the Dodgers in Los Angeles. They’ve lost Werth, and they’re still without Michael Morse, but Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche return in time for the road trip that begins Tuesday in Pittsburgh. They’ve gotten amazing results from their bench, and Davey Johnson is pushing the right buttons and proving Rizzo was right to make him the manager.
The fact is, the Nationals have arrived. They have what the Phillies used to have: a stellar rotation. (Hamels probably remembers that from the old days he loves so much.) They will be a factor in the playoff race in August, September and October (when they meet the Phillies 11 times). They now have a real rivalry, with plunkings and trash talk. And this fall, when things get interesting, we’ll look back at this past weekend — and Harper’s burr-under-the-saddle presence — as the start of it all.
For Tracee Hamilton’s previous columns visit washingtonpost.com/hamilton
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