Grantland logo

About Last Night: Harper Doesn’t Clown Around

Bryce Harper

In case you were busy enjoying the satisfaction of ripping the perforated sides off of dot matrix printer paper, here’s what you missed in sports on Thursday:

  • Despite blowing a four-run ninth-inning lead, Washington beat the Pittsburgh Pirates as Bryce Harper hit his first walk-off home run in the Nationals’ 9-7 win. “These are the situations you dream of as a kid,” Harper said after the game. “Two outs, bottom of the ninth, tie ballgame, you’re on the Nationals, up against the Pirates, everything’s on the line. Just you, a corner outfielder for the Nationals, and the Pirates’ closer facing each other down with the whole nation watching. A mano a mano battle at Nationals Park, the house that Walter Johnson Didn’t Really Build. The history, the tradition, the pressure, the rivalry: One nation, against Pirates, with liberty and justice for me.”
  • Reds starter Mat Latos was sharp into the eighth inning as Cincinnati topped the Dodgers, 5-2, stopping Los Angeles’s winning streak at six. The game was also Vin Scully bobblehead night, honoring the broadcaster for his 64th year with the Dodgers organization. Now as you know, we here at About Last Night are all about debate, but I think the Vin Scully issue is a clear one: It’s time to call games for another team. Am I saying that Scully’s career is suspect if he doesn’t join up with the Red Sox or Yankees? Yes. Sure he used to call World Series games, but until a broadcaster has handled the heat of an entire AL East season, can we really call them the greatest of all time? In a career that has been so improbable, is it impossible to suggest that Scully hasn’t joined up with the Yankees because he can’t handle the New York heat? Go east young man, fulfill your destiny, and for once in your otherwise unblemished career, try working out of New York City, Vin. Then, maybe, when you’re calling the greatest city in the world, we’ll call you the greatest announcer in the world.
  • Mark Buehrle was in vintage form, throwing a two-hit shutout as the Toronto Blue Jays eased past Erik Bedard and the Houston Astros, 4-0. “Wait, Mark threw all nine innings?” Bedard asked after the game. “How? Oh my god, that’s insane. Why would he do that? Is he OK?”
  • Two runs were enough for Hiroki Kuroda and the Yankees bullpen as they combined to shut out the Texas Rangers, 2-0. Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was honored by Texas before the game and given a pair of cowboy boots by John Wetteland, the man whom Rivera set up in the Bronx before taking over the closer’s role himself. “Now, in the tradition of passing the mantle of Yankees closer,” Rivera said as setup man David Robertson bounced giddily in the corner, “it’s time for these boots to get their chance.” A crushed Robertson said after the game, “Boots are good, boots deserve a shot, boots are made for walking, puss and boots, Bootsy Collins, I don’t know.”
  • Matt Ryan joined fellow 2008 NFL draftee Joe Flacco among the latest franchise quarterbacks to cash in, signing a five-year $103 million extension with the Falcons that’s comparable to Flacco’s deal with the Ravens. Meanwhile, 2007 NFL draftee JaMarcus Russell was paid $40 million to play in parts of three seasons … which … huh … well, it looks like the joke is on me for setting him up as a punch line.
  • Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin has been placed on the team’s PUP list after suffering an injury that could prove to be a partial hip labrum tear. This is devastating news for my fantasy team, which is called A Seahawks Team That Actually Has Percy Harvin On It.
  • The University of Florida removed all references to and images of former student-athlete Aaron Hernandez from its playing and practice facilities while Hernandez faces murder charges related to the killing of Odin Lloyd. Among the items removed was a brick honoring Hernandez for his membership on the 2009 All-American team, beneath which was a Zodiac chart with a cryptic code on the back and a single black dahlia flower, both of which were deemed “weird, but probably nothing” and immediately destroyed by university officials.
  • Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving dominated a USA Basketball scrimmage, leading his White Team with 23 points and seven assists en route to a 128-106 win over Anthony Davis and the Blue Team. The game reunited Irving with his college coach Mike Krzyzewski, who said of Irving, “It was really exciting to get to coach Kyrie again. I think he’s the sort of guy we’re going to be counting on, until right before the FIBA World Cup, at which point he’ll suffer a minor injury, the recovery for which will drag itself out until the middle of the tournament, at which point we’ll suddenly reintroduce him to our squad, destroying our carefully built chemistry and costing us the trophy.” Krzyzewski then added bitterly, “Or something.”