Does Bryce Harper really need to grow up?

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I give Bryce Harper a fair amount of hell, but it isn’t serious hell. It’s more like me shaking my head and smugly smiling at the folly of youth while simultaneously (a) understanding that young people act like young people and that’s OK; and (b) being slightly jealous that I’m an old man now and couldn’t get away with most of that stuff.

Point is: while I cringe — often — at the things Harper says and does, it’s no different than me cringing at the kids riding their skateboards around my neighborhood, imploring them to get off my lawn and the like.  Sure, it’d be cool if a young stud athlete like Harper had an unnatural maturity because it would be interesting to witness, but really, the kid is just being a kid and that’s OK.

But it’s not OK with everyone. Specifically, Jason Reid of the Washington Post, who took to his column yesterday to implore Master Harper to grow up:

Bryce Harper needs to grow up. When you’re the future of the franchise, being 19 will only get you so far. Sometimes, you need to show maturity beyond your years … Obviously, Harper is entitled to his views. After already paying Harper like a star, the Nationals want him to become one. Harper hasn’t said or done anything outright alarming. Repeatedly, though, he has exercised questionable judgment — and the Nationals know it.

The evidence cited for this is all the stuff we’ve heard about before: his desire to be like Joe Namath. The fact that he roots for teams that happened to be good and popular when he was growing up. The fact that he showboated in a couple of games last year, says goofy things on Twitter and drives an oversized Hot Wheels car.

None of which I personally approve of, of course. But as we’ve established: I’m an old man and I know it and I don’t think for a minute that Bryce Harper should do what pleases people like me because, man, that would be pretty depressing.

As long as they’re not abusing drugs and causing real chaos, let youth be young. As long as we don’t get consumed with bitterness, let old people roll our eyes at it. That’s the natural freaking order of things, and I really hope that never changes.

Struggling Francisco Rodriguez’s job seems to be secure

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Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez continued to struggle on Thursday, allowing a run in a 2-1 loss to the Mariners. It’s the sixth time in nine appearances that the right-handed veteran has allowed a run, bumping his ERA up to 6.23. He’s blown two saves and has two losses on the year.

Despite that, it doesn’t sound like Rodriguez’s job as the Tigers’ closer is in any jeopardy, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports. When asked how much of a leash Rodriguez has, manager Brad Ausmus said, “I’ll let you know.” Ausmus continued, “I think people have short memories. This guy did a pretty good job for us last year. Early on, people were worried because the velocity was down. Well, the velocity is back.”

“But at some point,” Ausmus said, “he does have to pitch the way he pitched last year, because he did an outstanding job for us last year and in a city that has been looking for a closer that was consistent for a long time, he was that.”

Rodriguez, 35, doesn’t have the stuff he once did. And the Tigers do appear to have someone who would be a better option in high-leverage situations. Lefty Justin Wilson has thrown 9 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings so far this season with 15 strikeouts and three walks. But for now, it sounds like Rodriguez will be free to work through his issues.

The Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field

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Don’t look now, but the Nationals have the best record in baseball at 16-6. They’re coming off a 10-game road trip in which they went 9-1, including sweeps of the Braves and Mets and a 3-1 series against the Rockies at Coors Field. During that series with the Rockies, the Nationals scored 46 runs, which is nearly as many as the Royals (54) have scored all season long. The Nats scored double-digits in all three wins.

The first game at Coors, an 8-4 loss, saw a three-hit game from Anthony Rendon and a homer from Ryan Zimmerman.

The second game featured Trea Turner hitting for the cycle and driving in seven runs. Daniel Murphy had three hits and five RBI.

The third game saw Turner finish a triple short of the cycle. Bryce Harper had four hits. Zimmerman had three hits including a homer. Murphy homered, too.

The fourth game featured homers from Adam Eaton, Harper, and Murphy. Seven members of the lineup had multiple hits and six had multiple RBI including pitcher Gio Gonzalez.

The series helped the Nationals bring their run differential to +34, the best in the National League. The Yankees are the only team with a better differential at +35.

Indeed, the Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field. They return home to open up a three-game set with the ailing Mets on Friday night.