Bryce Harper hasn’t participated in the [branded] Home Run Derby since it was in Citi Field back in 2013, when he finished second behind Yoenis Cespedes. Harper went into the All-Star Break with 23 home runs this season, tied for eighth among major league hitters, with the second-most homers among the participants in tonight’s Derby, behind only Milwaukee Brewers’ slugger Jesus Aguilar (24).
That earned Harper the second seed, and a matchup with Atlanta Braves’ first baseman and notorious Nationals-killer Freddie Freeman (who’s hit 16 so far this season).
Freeman said today he wasn’t thrilled about drawing Harper in the first round, just because he wanted some fan support.
“I was like are you kidding me?” Freeman said. “I needed some of the fans to be on my side, not 50,000 not on my side.”
Harper entered into the Derby this time with a goal of just having fun and sharing a moment with his father.
“If I win I win, if I don’t, it’s part of it,” he said.
“I’m just excited to hopefully share that again with my dad if I do have him throw to me,” Harper said, and he confirmed today his father would.
“But just excited for the fans, to be able to do that in front of them as well. That’s the main reason why I’m doing it.
“If we weren’t in D.C., I probably wouldn’t have done it. But looking forward to going out there and [representing] the Nationals and hopefully bring home a trophy.”
His memories of the first Derby, the 25-year-old outfielder said, mostly revolved around the fact that he got to share the time with his father and the rest of his family.
“Growing up you’re always dreaming about playing catch with your dad and enjoying those moments, and I was able to do that every single day, so I’m looking forward to just having the family around the All-Star Game, having my dad in the clubhouse, that’s really cool again. Seeing all the All-Stars and being able to have conversations with a lot of the guys you’re not able to within the year. I know my dad gets really excited as well and I’m looking forward to it.”
How will he fare this time around? We’ll find out tonight. Here’s the field:
It’s bracket szn.— MLB (@MLB) July 15, 2018
Get all the picks right in the 2018 @TMobile #HRDerby Bracket Challenge and you could win a trip to the #WorldSeries. https://t.co/s6cQC15X6r pic.twitter.com/fo63Gnwcs4
The broadcast start at 7:00 PM and who knows when they’ll actually start hitting them (it’s probably really easy to find that information but I want you to be proactive).
It will probably go on far too long, but maybe, just maybe, if we all wish for it together, just maybe, someone will finally hit the scoreboard in right-center or hit one onto the concourse in center, or find a way out of the park in the right field corner.
Who ya picking? Of course we’re picking Harper. Let’s all count the number of times some fool makes the joke about how the Derby sometimes messes with a hitter’s swing, but this time, it might actually help Harper...
Enjoy your HR Derby if I didn’t already ruin all the fun... But seriously, who read down this far?