- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 20, 2014


Bryce Harper is featured in a new set of commercials for Major League Baseball – edited into old baseball footage as if he is playing on the same field with such legends as Ted Williams, Carlton Fisk and Babe Ruth.

But the ballplayer Harper is connected with – possibly linked to for the rest of his career – doesn’t require any trick photography. He will be right there on the field at Nationals Park Monday.

Harper’s peer – his measurement of baseball greatness – is Mike Trout.

Trout and his Los Angeles Angels teammates come to Washington for a three-game series at Nationals Park, the first time that Trout and Harper will be on the field as Major League Baseball competitors.

So far, it appears Bryce Harper is playing catch up. He didn’t exactly help himself by getting benched by manager Matt Williams in Saturday’s 4-3 loss to the Cardinals for lack of hustle. He could wind up being the villain in this story.

Harper made it clear before the season that he’s in a baseball legacy race with Trout, the 22-year-old near-MVP outfielder (oh, boy, I bet that hurt the jihadists numbers geeks) selected 25th in the first round by the Angels in the 2009 draft – one year before Harper.

In a February interview with Comcast Sportsnet, Harper let everyone know he has been paying attention to the Trout comparisons – while telling you he doesn’t care — and he has perhaps a different view than everyone else.

Trout’s very good,” Harper said. “(Manny) Machado’s really good. I could care less what people think. I’ve been to the NL East title. I won it. Nobody else can say that.”

Take that, Mike Trout.

Take your MVP runner up 2012 season, with your 30 home runs, 129 runs scored, 182 hits, 49 stolen bases, .326 average and .399 on-base percentage, and your 2013 MVP runner up season, with 27 home runs, 97 RBI, 109 runs scored, .323 average and .432 on-base percentage.

Bryce Harper helped lead his team to a division title.

It may be unfair, but it’s the same argument that Joe DiMaggio could make to Ted Williams — though Harper still has a ways to go to hold up his end of that comparison.

We may be looking at that kind of career-long debate – though, unlike DiMaggio’s New York Yankees and Williams‘ Boston Red Sox, the Nationals and Angels don’t play in the same league.

But there will be All-Star Games – and interleague moments like this series. And, if baseball is fortunate enough, maybe a World Series showdown someday.

Story Continues →