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Eventful weekend in Atlanta for Harper

Aug 19, 2013, 9:00 AM EST

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ATLANTA โ€” Given the attention thrust upon him before the Nationals even arrived in town, it was little surprise Bryce Harper became such a key figure in this weekend's series against the Braves.

The 20-year-old was front-and-center throughout, from his first at-bat Friday night to his controversial, game-ending strikeout on Sunday afternoon.

Through it all, the crowds at Turner Field showered Harper with boos, the kind usually afforded only to a handful of visiting-team stars. And the kid relished every moment of it.

"I love when the crowd goes crazy or they boo me," Harper said after Sunday's 2-1 loss. "I live for that situation. I think a lot ofRead more ยป

  1. snopes1 - Aug 19, 2013 at 9:16 AM

    The guy's no dummy. See how inoffensive he sounded when he said, "These Atlanta fans are in the same class as the fans in Philly, New York, and Boston." Or in other words, Atlanta fans deserve to be classified with the biggest jerks in baseball.

  2. Mississippi Snopes - Aug 19, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    The truth is that Atlanta probably has the worst attendance on a per-win basis in baseball and their fan base is among the least knowledgeable about baseball in MLB.

  3. BigCat - Aug 19, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    How long is Harper locked up for? I could see him leaving.

  4. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 19, 2013 at 9:20 AM

    Snopes, good take.

  5. Camron Leatherwood - Aug 19, 2013 at 9:25 AM

    Have you even been to a braves game? To categorize braves fans in the same breath as Philly NY or BOS is so far from the truth. I can't tell you more than one or two players other than harper thatbwe boo. He comes off as a spoiled brat. Slamming his bat arguing every call. If he showed some respect we wouldn't boo. Stay classy washington.

  6. mick - Aug 19, 2013 at 9:33 AM

    Big catif nats do not at least win one NL title, harper will leave along with strastake that to the bank

  7. mick - Aug 19, 2013 at 9:38 AM

    Camron Leatherwood so not true on harper….Braves fans are classless rednecks period

  8. mick - Aug 19, 2013 at 9:39 AM

    Camron Leatherwood oh and Gen Sherman 1…atlanta 0lol

  9. BigCat - Aug 19, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    When Tehran drilled him and we did nothing I'm sure got him thinking. Then he gets clipped by a curve and then absolutely punished by a pitch intended to injure him and Davey still did nothing. His "no comment" after that game said a lot in my opinion. And believe me, his dad is taking it alllll in.

  10. NatsLady - Aug 19, 2013 at 9:44 AM

    Never been to an Atlanta game. Watched on TV. Have to put it on mute.

  11. mick - Aug 19, 2013 at 9:44 AM

    big catbut Harpe Dad knows davey is leaving

  12. Jimmy - Aug 19, 2013 at 9:49 AM

    I remember Strasburg's first start in Atlanta. He utterly dominated through five innings, then a pair of costly infield errors led him to getting yanked. He left the field to the chant of "over-rated" from the stands, leading me to wonder if it was possible that an entire stadium of people could avoid watching five innings of baseball right in front of their eyes.The reaction to the whole Harper situation is just more of the same. You can't plunk a star player three times in two games and expect nothing in return. I say that as someone who really doesn't like this whole ugly side of baseball.

  13. BigCat - Aug 19, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    Can you imagine Jeter getting drilled like this, or Paul Oneil on that 90's Yankee bunch? Remember when the Oriole closer drilled Martinez in the back after a HR, there was a 20 minute brawl. Torre didn't have to say a word. This Nats team is weak……they are sissies, most of them anyway.

  14. BigCat - Aug 19, 2013 at 9:56 AM

    Someone used the quote "….bring there briefcase to the locker room…" awhile back. That is pretty fitting

  15. BigCat - Aug 19, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    The Braves are just flat out better than us, by a wide margin, and are kicking our asses. We were lucky to win the extra inning job, after our star closer Soriano served up another one.

  16. natsfan1a - Aug 19, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    Stay classy, Atlanta.Camron Leatherwood said… Have you even been to a braves game? To categorize braves fans in the same breath as Philly NY or BOS is so far from the truth. I can't tell you more than one or two players other than harper thatbwe boo. He comes off as a spoiled brat. Slamming his bat arguing every call. If he showed some respect we wouldn't boo. Stay classy washington. August 19, 2013 9:25 AM

  17. SonnyG10 - Aug 19, 2013 at 10:15 AM

    BigCat said…The Braves are just flat out better than us, by a wide margin, and are kicking our asses. We were lucky to win the extra inning job, after our star closer Soriano served up another one.August 19, 2013 10:01 AMJust not true, BigCat. You'll see in the playoffs when the Barves get smoked.

  18. SonnyG10 - Aug 19, 2013 at 10:19 AM

    We were not as good as we played last year, and we are not as bad as we are playing this year. We have a young team and the hitters still have a lot to learn. Rizzo has some work to do.

  19. SonnyG10 - Aug 19, 2013 at 10:24 AM

    I want to see TyMo get some significant playing time at first base to see what we got. I rather not see him in the outfield. I'd like to see Clippard or Storen in the closer role and Soriano as a seventh inning guy until we can get rid of him.

  20. mick - Aug 19, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    Sonny Gi think you are correct overallthe most important thing Rizzo MUST do this off season is to find a manager who emphasizes situational hitting

  21. Theophilus T. S. - Aug 19, 2013 at 10:29 AM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  22. BigCat - Aug 19, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    Agree mostly Sonny

  23. Theophilus T. S. - Aug 19, 2013 at 10:32 AM

    "We live for this." Live for the booing and they're going crazy. It makes me a better player." No offense but you only get to say this if in fact it makes you better. If it made him better he'd be hitting .300. (Or possibly, if it is indeed making him better, without it he'd be hitting .233.) This is as much a lost season for Harper as it is others, e.g., Strasburg, Gonzalez, LaRoche and a number of others who are massively under-performing. I'm no longer willing to believe that a sore knee is at the root of Harper's problems. My personal opinion is that his head is too much into what's going on around the game – getting plugged, arguing with umpires, getting booed, acting like a star before he is one — and not enough into doing what he's been taught and has the ability to do. Just like no one expected it to take Strasburg four years to throw a shutout, no one expected it to take Harper three years before driving in more than 60 runs. He needs a major mental makeover over the off-season. Learn to concentrate on being a baseball player and less on being the Bieber of baseball. Otherwise no one's gonna care if he finishes his career as a Yankee.

  24. John C. - Aug 19, 2013 at 10:35 AM

    Not all Braves fans are classless jerks, and the ones who aren't are embarrassed by both the displays that the fans put on during the Wild Card game last year and cheering for a HBP (really?). One friend of mine admitted that he doesn't like to attend games at Turner Field anymore because of the atmosphere there. Which is a shame, because the team is good.The line between the Nationals and Braves this year is both very narrow and very wide. The games are all very close, because the teams are very close in talent; I still lean towards the Nationals on a medium- to long-term outlook (even if McCann doesn't leave as a free agent, I'm not a believer that Johnson, Gattis and others can repeat their success). But the overall margin this year is dramatic, because the Braves have been able, through a combination of good fortune and skill, to get the little things done for the wins.In some ways it's payback, because even in the dark years when the Nationals were terrible they would still find ways to beat the Braves – which Braves fans found maddening.

  25. Nats Fan 204 - Aug 19, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    On August 27, when the Nats come home and play Miami, I think that we as fans need to make young Mr. Harper know how much we appreciate his efforts and how much we are behind him. He said that he loved the Atlanta fans and the atmosphere they created. While I could never cheer if another team's player was hurt or thrown at and hurt, iIt seems incumbent upon me as a fan to make an effort to go out of my way and do a little more to try and get others in my section involved in making the young man know that his fans can create an atmosphere here in DC so that he wants to continue to be part of for many years.

  26. mick - Aug 19, 2013 at 10:43 AM

    I went to Braves opener vs Phillies in 2002. I was in Atlanta for an event I along with many Terp fans had waited a lifetime for….Terps first basketball NCAA Championship!!Gary Sheffield pounded 2 homers as Braves won huge. The opener was not sold out at all..I only went to game to kill time for the real event, lol

  27. mick - Aug 19, 2013 at 10:46 AM

    I partied with Johnny Holiday and Dr Mote until 5 am in the morning!!! one of Mick's happiest moments!!Now if only my Nats can win a WS

  28. John C. - Aug 19, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    Theophilus, I can understand most of your points in your 10:32 post, but if you think Strasburg is "massively under-performing" this year you must mean with his bat. In terms of innings, ERA, overall runs against (despite some lousy fielding behind him early in the season), and WHIP this is his best season. He's managing his pitch counts better and getting deep into games without sacrificing strikeout stuff. Perhaps you think he should have hit well enough to win some of the close games that his pitching should have already delivered. Yes, he has a 6-9 record, but he is living proof that W/L is a dumb way to judge starting pitchers. The Nats have lost 11 games (!) where Strasburg gave up two or fewer runs; in nine of them Strasburg pitched six or more innings, and when he did come out early it was not because it was ineffective, it was because they needed to pinch hit for him for offense.If you think that Strasburg is massively underperforming, it just shows that you aren't paying attention.

  29. mick - Aug 19, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    I notice Dodgers have won 42 of 50 games, breaking a 100 yr old record39 games left…is there any evidence that Nats could win 30 of 39?

  30. Depot Master - Aug 19, 2013 at 10:58 AM

    Hey, guys – I hate to say this, but I have no issue with the Atlanta fans having it in for Harper. If an opposing player had threatened or suggested that he might put one of my team's players "six feet under", I'd not only boo him, I'd make sure he never said such a thing again, with anything in my power.I know we want to support our own, but in this case, one of our own said something that I don't believe any of our others would ever say – it's one thing to say "bloody his nose", but a whole other to talk about murder, and he did.What would you want Washington and its fans to do if someone said the same thing about Stras?

  31. mick - Aug 19, 2013 at 11:01 AM

    Depotyou are putting the cart before the horseare you giving Braves a pass for starting the whole g-damn thing, hitting Bryce 3 times???

  32. BigCat - Aug 19, 2013 at 11:07 AM

    Can't believe no one has brought up that racist "chop" that they do. Where is 222 when we need him

  33. SCNatsFan - Aug 19, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    Both rendon and harper got jobbed on check swings in the ninth. As I get every brave game I've seen them for years and have never seen a team get more calls. I absolutely hate them and will root for whoever they are playing this postseason.

  34. Nats Fan 204 - Aug 19, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    Next year the Nats will have a new manager, I really do not think that this change will make as much of a difference in thee Nats lack of situational hitting and lack of playing fundamental baseball. I hope that it can and will change the Nats philosophy when it comes to holding runners on base but I am not even sure about that anymore.Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche, and Ian Desmond are established players who have been around this game many years.It is hard to believe that they are not set in their ways and that change is less likely to happen than it is to expect change to happen under a new manager. I think that there are managers out there who could agitate for this change but it would have to be a manager with a strong personality and does Rizzo really want this after Davey's stubborness bordering on obstinancy this year?No, these changes have to come from the players themselves. If the veteran players cannot follow the leadership examples of Werth in the clubhouse and on the field then the other vets such as Zim, LaRoche and Desmond need to make changes and step out of their comfort zones at the plate, in the field and in the clubhouse.

  35. mick - Aug 19, 2013 at 11:23 AM

    Bigcatagreed…here is the reality about why Native Americans are crapped on..There are two sad facts as to the hypocrisy of why the chop and racist names are still allowed or why other team names have never surfaced that would be deemed offensive, these 2 reasons are simple, MONEY and POWER. Native Americans are 1.7 percent of the population in the United States, these REAL Americans were basically exterminated slowly since 1620 and all that is left are tiny little reservations (interment camps) scattered across the Mid West and West, rampant alcoholism and low life expectancy. As a nice gesture, the US govt has thrown them a bone in the form of "gaming" to create the illusion that they are part of the American economy, while of course the gaming lobby reaps the benefits. The lobby group for Native Americans is the gaming commission period who as stated, uses them to make cash. In other words, they have NO power or representation economically or politically. The proof is this, if I wanted to begin my own football league, I wonder how far it would go if some of my teams names and logos were for example, the Washington Darkies and the logo would is that of a character of say a 1950's era Disney Black man eating watermelon. This would be similar to the current Redskin logo of the Native American with his red skin in a head dress. Or, how about the Jacksonville J-Balls, with a depiction of a Jewish looking man with a big nose, or the Baltimore Beaners, with a Latino who looks like Pancho Villa. Every phony politically correct lawmaker and pundit, some of which support the Redskin name and the chop would be all over this and I of course would be slandered as a racist. sad phoney world we live in

  36. Nats Fan 204 - Aug 19, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    Did anybody see Ryan Dempster throw at A-Rod 3 times in A-Rod's first at bat yesterday? Could you help but notice that when the homeplate ump warned both benches, Joe Giradi flew out of the Yankee dugout screaming and yelling at the ump demanding Dempster be thrown out of the game. He also must've been screaming about the warnings to both benches and how the warnings meant that his players could not protect themselves. Giradi was thrownout for sticking uo not only for his team but also for one of the most reviled players in the game today. Where was Davey, when the young and impressionable Bryce Harper was being drilled?

  37. Theophilus T. S. - Aug 19, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    John C. — If you think Ws and Ls are of no value in evaluating a pitcher then presumably you think Steve Carlton's 27-10 in 1972 was indicative of nothing. To win a game, your team must be ahead when you leave; to lose a game, your team must be behind when you leave. Whether your team is only scoring a few runs is worth only so much, as it is sometimes the pitcher's job to allow only a run or two if his team is going to win. That's the job of really good pitchers; if my ace can't beat your ace, or your number, two, three or four starters, then he isn't that great a pitcher. The killer stat so far as Strasburg is concerned is he has given the Nats barely six innings a start. Leaving the last three innings to be blown by Storen, Mattheus, Soriano, etc., or at best chew up the bullpen so much they blow tomorrow's game. He's 25 years old, strong as an ox, fit (I believe). Tell me you were willing to wait for Strasburg's fifth major league season to "dominate." To me, this season is very disappointing.

  38. NatsLady - Aug 19, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    Strasburg is a puzzlement to me. Great games, great stats. Then he just can't find it, Miami, Atltanta (not just Saturday). You sense that he has greatness in him, but can't find it, not consistently, not like Kershaw.

  39. SonnyG10 - Aug 19, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    mick said…I notice Dodgers have won 42 of 50 games, breaking a 100 yr old record39 games left…is there any evidence that Nats could win 30 of 39?August 19, 2013 10:56 AMmick, I think this is a big reason the Barves aren't going anywhere in the playoffs.

  40. EmDash - Aug 19, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    Strasburg and Harper are only underwhelming if one's expectations for them are that they're immediately the best players in all of baseball, which isn't very realistic. Or if you're only looking at batting average and pitcher wins, which is an incomplete way to evaluate a player.Harper has the 18th best OPS in all of baseball of players with >275 at-bats, and that's with playing through injury for a month when he shouldn't have been. His walk rate is up, his strikeout rate is down, his slugging percentage is higher. His OPS+ – which compares a player to the league-average offensive environment and adjusts for ballpark – is 137 (with 100 as average), while last year's was 118. He's having a better year than last year, to put it simply, he just hasn't exploded like some people expected him to.And as for looking at RBIs…the team OBP is pretty low. It's kind of difficult to drive in runs when it's not common to have people in front of you to drive in.Strasburg's having a better year than last year, too. Fewer hits per nine, exactly the same HR/9 and walks/9, slightly lower strikeouts but that could be part of his trying to be more pitch-efficient, going deeper into games. Better ERA, and an ERA+ of 129. As for taking him 4 years to throw a shutout…it's his first full year in the majors. Not like he's been pitching that whole time and just not able to manage it. He's among the least-run-supported pitchers in all of baseball – it's all but impossible to get the win when your team can't score runs.

  41. EmDash - Aug 19, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    Kershaw's hands down the best pitcher in baseball, I think. If our standard of comparison for Stras and Harper is "not as good as Kershaw and Trout, the best players in all of baseball," then it's going to be pretty hard to enjoy anyone's performance.

  42. SonnyG10 - Aug 19, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    Excellent post, EmDash @ 12:16 pm.

  43. RC - Aug 19, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    Curious, how can the Braves be racist but the Redskins are not?Also, booing Harper is a compliment. Mets always booed Chipper, and yes they cheered when he was hit in 1999 nlcs.No one was vomited on like in Philly or assaulted like in LA.Just quit all the hate and enjoy a good rivalry.

  44. SonnyG10 - Aug 19, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    Has Kershaw had TJ surgery?

  45. NatsLady - Aug 19, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    EmDash, I hear you. But why does Stras, suddenly, and without something we can understand, have 2-3 inning starts? I can kind of understand Gio, even JZ–you have a bad day, you are tired, dead arm, can't find the mechanics. One or two of these a season, OK. Stras seems to have more than that.

  46. EmDash - Aug 19, 2013 at 12:28 PM

    I don't mind the fans not being happy with Harper, or booing him in general. That's normal enough, and Harper did say something he shouldn't have. The standing ovation when a pitcher hit him up near the head – not okay, under any circumstances. Tough guy talk is not as big of a problem as actual potential for injury.As for whether Harper will stay…if "one time in Atlanta six years ago my team didn't immediately have my back" is his decision point, it'd be pretty shocking. The decision comes down to how well the franchise is set up to win (hard to say in 2019, at this point) and, overwhelmingly, the amount of money paid. His agent is Boras, after all.

  47. Manassas Nats' Fan - Aug 19, 2013 at 12:29 PM

    Off subject.After watching Joe Girardi's presser after the game, how livid he was over tge HBP if A-Rod, and knowing A-Rod has set himself up to notceasily becdefended, i am most impressed with Girardi (was. Already).If the Yanks dont re-sign hin the Nats should

  48. EmDash - Aug 19, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    Stras has had three starts that were meltdown-ish, that I remember offhand? One in Atlanta followed by his DL for a back problem, one in Miami, and this one. He said before his previous start that he has groin soreness, if memory serves. If he's in pain, it makes sense that his performance becomes more inconsistent, to me – some days the discomfort will be worse than others.Zimmermann has been less effective and more inconsistent since his neck stiffness has become more of a problem, too.

  49. NatsLady - Aug 19, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    I agree. Potatoes plenty racist name, and I am NOT a fan. Am I supposed to recisgn my job, move out of the District of Columbia? I don't go to their games. Your point?

  50. Ivan Tuski - Aug 19, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    "RC said…Curious, how can the Braves be racist but the Redskins are not?Whoever said the Skins name is not racist? I think most people on this board object to their name.

  51. Ivan Tuski - Aug 19, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    Keepin it classy in Atlantahttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45JUiwMi2OQ

  52. BigCat - Aug 19, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    The team names don't bother me like the chanting and chopping gesture with the hand. I guess that is implying an Indian brave swinging a tomahawk . I don't know… In this PC world we live in, I can't believe more isn't made of this

  53. JMU Dreamscape - Aug 19, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    I'll go ahead and say I'm a Braves fan. I found the attitude of those at Turner Field Friday deplorable. Though, I think there was no way Avilan was intentionally trying to hit him, to cheer for that bothered me. The curveball that got away from Wood was more comical effect. Harper laughed with Freeman, Wood was embarrassed, the fans cheered…that was an okay moment. But in a very important time in the game, Avilan goes in and plunks Harper. Avilan is upset, Harper is potentially hurt, and the fans cheer even louder. Awful.That said, Braves fans are paying Harper a great compliment by booing him relentlessly and I think he gets that. It means they are staying active and listening to him and watching his actions. The normally quiet Braves crowd has a rival to hate for the first time since the Mets years. Make no mistake, Harper will be pitched in several more times and might get clipped. Atlanta pitchers come in. Like every club should, they will try to own the inner half. Teheran probably tried to send a message back in DC. That one and the Upton HBP could be classified as intentional. From Strasburg's interview as he grinned while saying he was out-of-sorts, you might even say the whole mess with Simmons was intentional, too. Ignoring that, piling on with the 3-0 beanings…listen, Gonzalez nailed Freeman in the same game that Harper was hit in DC. It was a curveball, much like with the case with Wood, that got away. No one thought anything of it, no one kept count, no one cared. People get hit and it happens. Regardless…this rivalry should be good for years. Both teams have an abundance of youth. I admit the Nats aren't this bad, but the Braves are this good. Next year, the Nats will probably be back and it will be a true race.

  54. BigCat - Aug 19, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    I think the front end of the braves pen has been tremendous for them, notably Avilan n Carpenter. They have killed us all year. Of course, we haven't really hit anyone hard all year

  55. Nats106 - Aug 19, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    Yes, Nats 106 will be there/Nats Fan 204 said… On August 27, when the Nats come home and play Miami, I think that we as fans need to make young Mr. Harper know how much we appreciate his efforts and how much we are behind him.

  56. SonnyG10 - Aug 19, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    Thanks for your perspective JMU Dreamscape. Good post. I would disagree on two items. I do not believe Stras was intentionally tring to hit Simmons for several reasons. First, if he were going to continue to send a message (which was unnecessary), he wouldn't pick Simmons. He would try to get either McCann or Freeman, probably in that order. Second, he had already thrown four straight balls, walking a batter. His first pitch to Simmons was a wild hook in the dirt on the other side of the plate from Simmons. His next pitch was a fastball that would endanger the on deck batter more than Simmons. His last pitch was closer to Simmons, but probably because he was trying to correct his location, and still couldn't do it. Third, in his postgame interview, when he was asked about Simmons, he cited his mechanical difficulties after having to sit so long between innings. He was then asked about hitting Upton and he said "I'm not going to go into that", which indicates to me those were two different situations. Last, Stas has never felt comfortable on that mound in Atlanta, for whatever reason. I also disagree with you that Avilan didn't try to hit Harper.Now, one thing I haven't mentioned in earlier post. I respected the way the Braves handled the payback by Stras. Especially, Justin Upton. He took his shot, gave a slight smile at Stephen and went directly to first base. That was first-class imo.

  57. Manassas Nats' Fan - Aug 19, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    Anyone who has warch Strasburg all season has seen a pitchers who is excellent 60% of the time, goid 25% ok 13%, and 1 or 2 % mysterious. He loses his release point a period of 3 or 4 pitches at a time, usually every 2 or 3 games.Actuallt that isnt bad as it keeps hitters from digging in.

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