Bryce Harper strikes out against Max Scherzer in return to D.C.


Following nearly an hour-long rain delay, Tuesday’s series opener between the Phillies and Nationals in Washington, D.C. The big news, of course, is that it is Bryce Harper‘s return to Nationals Park after signing a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies.

The build-up to Harper’s return has been nothing short of glorious. Fans have destroyed or otherwise defaced the Harper jerseys they spent actual money on. The mayor compared Harper to Benedict Arnold. Fans have been instructed to boo Harper or take a hike.

After Andrew McCutchen and Jean Segura each hit singles to start the ballgame, Harper at long last stood in the batter’s box facing Max Scherzer. Harper was booed lustily by his former home fans. Scherzer started off with strike one, a fastball that caught the corner. Harper swung and missed at a cutter for strike two, fouled off a 97 MPH fastball, then took two balls to even up the count. Scherzer then tossed a change-up that dipped under the strike zone, getting Harper to swing over the top of it for strike three. The crowd at Nationals Park erupted in cheers.

Fortunately, everyone is being cool about it.

Harper struck out again in the third inning:

(Reference 1 and Reference 2, for the uninitiated.)

MLB and MLBPA announce first set of COVID-19 test results

MLB COVID-19 test results
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

On Friday evening, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association announced the first set of results for COVID-19 testing as part of the mandatory intake screening process under MLB’s COVID-19 Health Monitoring & Testing Plan. Per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Athletics are not part of this data because their testing has not yet been completed.

There were 38 positive tests, accounting for 1.2% of the 3,185 samples collected and tested. 31 of the 38 individuals who tested positive are players. 19 different teams had one or more individuals test positive.

Sports Illustrated’s Emma Baccellieri notes that the positive test rate in the U.S. nationally is 8.3 percent. The NBA’s positive test rate was 7.1 percent. MLB’s positive test rate is well below average. This doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is wrong with MLB’s testing or that it’s an atypical round of testing. Rather, MLB’s testing population may more closely represent the U.S. population as a whole. Currently, because testing is still somewhat limited, those who have taken tests have tended to be those exhibiting symptoms or those who have been around others who have tested positive. If every single person in the U.S. took a test, the positive test rate would likely come in at a much lower number.

Several players who tested positive have given their consent for their identities to be made known. Those are: Delino DeShields (link), Brett Martin (link), Edward Colina, Nick Gordon, and Willians Astudillo (link). Additionally, Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodríguez has not shown up to Red Sox camp yet because he has been around someone who tested positive, per The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey.