For the second consecutive All-Star Game, Bryce Harper was mic’d up for an interview with Fox play-by-play man Joe Buck while playing the field Tuesday night at Nationals Park. This year’s chat, which included questions about whether Harper could see his catcher’s signs from the outfield and what it was like to win Monday’s Home Run Derby, figured to be brief after National League pitcher Jacob deGrom retired the first two batters he faced in the third inning on six pitches.
“This could be a quick inning with frickin’ Jacob deGrom right here,” Harper said of the Mets right-hander. “He’s lights out. The guy is unbelievable. Having to face him in the NL East all year long. He’s one of the funnest guys to watch pitch. . . . That Mets staff. You look at deGrom, [Noah] Syndergaard, I mean, [Zack] Wheeler was lights out against us the other day. He was 100. They’ve got three guys that are just lights out. It’s incredible.”
Before Harper could heap any more praise on the last-place Mets, Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout golfed a deGrom change-up on the outside corner into the left field bullpen.
“Ooop, that’s gone,” Harper said after Trout made contact and before Buck could say the same. “How good is he, huh? I love watching him play, man. He’s a special player.”
“We say it in the booth,” Buck said as Trout, a two-time American League MVP, rounded third base. “He’s the best player in the game. I know you guys are all filled with pride, but do you recognize him as the best player in the game?”
“If you don’t, then you’re not watching,” Harper said. “This guy is day in and day out, year in and year out, one of the best in all of baseball.”
Early in their respective careers, there was some debate about whether Trout or Harper was baseball’s better young superstar. Over the past few seasons, Trout has put the debate to rest. Harper has long appreciated Trout’s greatness.
“Baseball is always, ‘What have you done for me lately?’” Harper said in the midst of his only MVP season in 2015. “That’s just how the game works. I still believe Trout is the best player in the game, hands down.”
During last year’s All-Star Game in Miami, Harper spent a good portion of his half-inning mic’d up talking about his love of the Dallas Cowboys. On Tuesday, he said he treated the Home Run Derby as if he were in his backyard playing with his dad, and he joked about a photo that surfaced on social media of him winning a home run derby as a kid.
“Looking a little husky, huh?” Harper said. “That’s that football body right there.”
Trout joined the Fox broadcast while playing center field an inning earlier and discussed his first-inning battle with Nationals ace Max Scherzer. After striking out the first two hitters he faced, Scherzer got ahead 1-2 on Trout, who eventually worked a walk.
“It was fun in the box, man,” Trout said. “He’s battling, I’m battling, the crowd’s going crazy. They’re chanting his name, obviously hometown. It was electric. I told [umpire Ted Barrett] when I got to home plate, he was amped up. I love that stuff.”
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