Bryce Harper torn between All-Star Game and vacation

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Bryce Harper’s chances of going to next week’s All-Star Game got a lot better when fellow Final Vote candidate Chipper Jones was named to the team today. Still, he wouldn’t mind missing out and going home to Nevada for a few days.

“I’m excited to go home,” he told the Washington Post. “If I don’t make the team, I think it’d be good for me to go home, get away from the world and be Bryce, be normal, just hang out with the family and get some good home-cooked meals and hit with my pop and just hang out.”

One imagines Harper is thinking about Swag. No, not all of the All-Star goodies he’d miss out on, but the puppy his parents gave him for Christmas that’s still at home in Nevada.

Nationals manager Davey Johnson also said he wouldn’t mind seeing Harper miss out on the game, partly because the 19-year-old has been nursing a sore back. Johnson added that he hasn’t gone to MLB.com to vote for Harper.

“I go online for a lot of things and that’s not one of them,” he said.

Bryce Harper defeats Kyle Schwarber 19-18 to win the 2018 Home Run Derby

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Bryce Harper, who said he was tired after taking his cuts in the first round, certainly appeared gassed in the final round. So, too, did his dad, who was throwing to him. But Harper caught fire, going on a tear and tying Kyle Schwarber with 18 home runs before time expired in the final round of the 2018 Home Run Derby. Harper unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time by hitting two home runs at least 440 feet. With his second swing in bonus time, Harper homered to straightaway center field for No. 19. He tossed his bat in celebration, grabbed his trophy, then gave it to his dad before he was mobbed on the field by his All-Star teammates.

Harper hit 13 home runs in the first round, eliminating Freddie Freeman and advancing to the semifinals. In the semis, Harper topped Max Muncy 13-12 to advance to the finals. On Schwarber’s side of the bracket, he bested Alex Bregman 16-15, then defeated Rhys Hoskins 21-20.

Harper is the first member of the Nationals (or Expos) to win the Home Run Derby. Harper participated in the 2013 Derby but finished in second place behind Yoenis Céspedes. Harper is also the first left-handed hitter to win the Derby since Prince Fielder in 2012. The only players to win the Derby in their home park are Todd Frazier in 2015 and Ryne Sandberg in 1990.

As a spectator, the 2018 Home Run Derby was tons of fun. The four-minute clock adds a lot of tension and intrigue even to the initial rounds. Seeing teammates cheer and get excited for their teammates in the Derby is really fun. Of course, watching dinger after dinger is cool, too. Can’t wait for next year.