Tonight is Round 2 of Bryce Harper vs. Cole Hamels as the Nationals and Phillies square off in Philadelphia, but both sides are trying their best to downplay the situation that resulted in endless headlines and a suspension for Hamels the first time they met.
Hamels has declined to comment other than to now claim that his hitting Harper on May 6 was actually unintentional–sorry Cole, that ship has long since sailed–and Harper told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that he doesn’t expect another incident:
I don’t even think about that. It’s a new series, a new day. I have a lot of respect for everybody in that other dugout. They’re an All-Star team … guys who are All-Stars who have been in this league for a long time.
Earlier this week Harper also praised Phillies fans while joking about their battery-throwing past and Philadelphia added extra ballpark security in the outfield to avoid any issues, so on paper at least Round 2 might end up being just another matchup between one of baseball’s best left-handers and one of baseball’s best young hitters.
Assuming, of course, that no one feels the sudden urge to be “old school.”