One for the Ages
Baseball is a funny game. It has a way of testing its most patient and passionate of fans, yet rewarding them in the end. There is no doubt that Boston’s 2004 World Series title was that much sweeter for Red Sox fans who waited 86 years for it to finally happen, the same way Chicago Cubs fans will finally revel in glory when their curse is broken (someday…maybe).
Fans flocked to Los Angeles, then to Washington, then to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, all in hopes of watching baseball’s youngest star, Bryce Harper, launch his first home run. They all came away without such a memory. They saw him live up to expectations by crashing into walls, firing opposite field missiles for doubles, even stealing home. But they never got that ultimate payoff.
No, that honor was reserved for the hearty souls who made their way to Nationals Park Monday night in the wake of dismal weather forecasts, who remained in their seats through the light rain into the third inning, when suddenly Harper jumped on a slider that just didn’t slide enough, driving it on a line to the deepest park of the park in dead center field. The hard-hit ball landed softly with a thud on the grass below the batter’s eye, and there it was. Harper hustled around the bases, took his curtain call, as demanded by the fan base that had waited for this moment.
It may not have been the most dramatic blast anyone’s ever seen. But it came in a game the Nats would go on to win, one that would put them back in sole possession of first place in the NL East. That alone made the dinger crucial beyond its obvious historical relevance. For those who love the compelling storylines, though, do not despair. If we’ve learned anything from Harper’s first few weeks in the Major Leagues, it’s that he will provide plenty of exciting moments in the months and years to come.