Bryce Harper is simply toying with the Sally League

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Bryce Harper is 18-years-old. Most guys his age will just be getting drafted next month or heading to college in the fall. As such, he is painfully young to be playing full-season A-ball right now, but there he is in the Sally League. And he’s making a mockery of it.

Yesterday he went 4-for-5 with a grand slam. He currently has a 15-game hitting streak going. Overall he’s at .396/.472/.712, with a league-leading 1.184 OPS.  Eight of the top ten guys in that league in that department are 22 or older.  Indeed, the only other player in the top 100 in OPS in that league who is 18 is Manny Machado, and he at least played rookie ball last year.

This doesn’t change the call-up calculus. The Nationals aren’t going to win the division with Harper there this year so they can fail to win the division him still in the minors too.  But it does remind one that, if you want to see Bryce Harper play in the minor leagues, you best get to it while the gettin’s good.

Alex Bregman shows how easy it is to manufacture “controversy” in baseball

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In most sports it takes legitimate trash talk to create off-day “controversy.” In baseball, it takes the weakest sauce. We saw how weak that sauce was yesterday.

Alex Bregman and the Houston Astros are going to face off against Nate Eovaldi and the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of the ALCS tonight. It’s worth noting that earlier this season, they hit back-to-back-to-back home runs off of Eovaldi when he was pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Yesterday, in an act which was likely somewhat inspired by self-motivation, somewhat inspired by getting in Eovaldi’s head and somewhat inspired by a simple interest in having fun, Bregman took the video of those back-to-back-to-back homers off of Eovaldi and posted it to his Instagram:

Of course, since this is baseball, where even farting off-key can be construed as “showing up” the opposition or somehow disrespecting the game, it became a thing. Or at least people tried to make it become a thing.

Indeed, it took them a bit to find someone who would help them make it a thing, because Eovaldi himself didn’t care about it a bit, nor did Astros manager A.J. Hinch or Red Sox manager Alex Cora. Eventually, however, they hit pay dirt. Here’s Sox infielder Steve Pearce talking to WEEI.com:

“Wow. I don’t know why he would do that. We do our talking on the field. If he wants to run his mouth now we’ll see who is talking at the end of the series.”

My guess is that almost no one on the planet, Steve Pearce included, would care about this in a vacuum or if they allowed themselves to think through it for more than a second. Baseball culture, though — and let’s be clear about it, baseball media culture — has conditioned most of its players and participants to think that stuff like this is supposed to be controversial, so it actually takes effort not to start dancing to this kind of tune on auto-pilot.

Kudos to Hinch, Cora and Eolvaldi for exerting that effort and not dancing to it. To the press that automatically sought out comment on this and Pearce who dutifully gave it: hey, I get it. It’s hard to resist one’s conditioning. Maybe you’ll be able to resist it next time.