Bryce Harper’s slide into second base on opening day — during which he bonked his head on Eric Young’s leg, fell prone to the ground and was assisted off the field before returning for the next half-inning — was an interesting moment. Were that Nate McLouth sliding into second, Nats fans would have been concerned and die-hard baseball fans would have seen the replay, but the moment would have quickly dissipated.
But everything Harper does becomes news, in much the same way everything Robert Griffin III does becomes news. That’s why Harper’s slide into second wound up on SI, SB Nation, Deadspin, The Big Lead, For The Win, Eye on Baseball, Big League Stew, and two Washington Post blogs, in addition to many other sites.
And that’s why after the Nats’ opener, MLB Network analysts Mitch Williams and Dan Plesac — wearing suits — reenacted Harper slide on a fake diamond while talking about the mechanics of sliding.
And this led to some truly unforgettable images, one of the byproducts of Harper’s fame.
“Most people when they slide they can slide with one foot forward,” Mitch Williams said. “I know when I slid, I had to slide left foot forward.”
“Bryce slides with his right foot forward and he goes in there good.”
“But what happens is when you slide to take out somebody’s legs, you want to kind of hook slide here to try and take their legs.”
“But what Bryce does is he plants and comes up and you know the guy’s gonna be jumping and he gets caught right there in the side of the leg.”
“If Bryce … stayed down with his head, he would have been fine. [Eric Young] would have gone over the top of him. But what happens is he plants his right foot on the bag, he goes in kind of late, trying to break up the double play like you’re supposed to, and watch his foot hit the bag and he’s gonna pop his upper body up right into the jumping EY.”
“And he was a little late getting there,” Dan Plesac said. “He slid almost right on top of the bag right there. That didn’t help him either, because that foot hits the bag and it’s gonna force your body to come up a little bit too. But listen, that’s a bang-bang decision. You’re going in, trying to figure out which way you need to break up that double play. A little bit of a late slide didn’t help either.”
“The one thing about Bryce Harper, he is always going to play this game 110 miles an hour, you can count on that,” Williams concluded.