One thing that Bryce Harper's major league debut wasn't: Overhyped. Though the Washington Nationals fell to the Dodgers in extra innings, Harper contributed in several areas, nearly getting game-winning RBI in his first big-league appearance. Of course, much more happened at Dodger Stadium. Let's take a look at the top 10 moments:
1. The Throw: By far the most impressive personal feat of Harper's first game was what should have been his first major league assist in the bottom of the seventh. A.J. Ellis singled to left and, with Jerry Hairston coming around third base, Harper uncoiled a laser beam toward home so low and on such a perfect line that you could have hung a baby's laundry on it. The throw made it on the fly to catcher Wilson Ramos, but he couldn't hold on as the impact with Hairston jarred the ball loose. Watch:
2. The Sacrifice Fly: He might be brash and cocky — brocky? — but Harper isn't too full of "P" and vinegar to misunderstand how the game works. Going the other way against Javy Guerra in the ninth, he got plenty of lift on a sacrifice fly to left field that scored Rick Ankiel with the go-ahead run. Way to execute, rookie.
3. The First Hit: Dodger Stadium is built into a hole in the ground, and the ball tends to not carry well there, but in his third plate appearance Harper managed to hit a line drive that hit the base of the fence in center on a very short hop for his first major league hit.
4. The Helmet Flip: What in the name of Gary Matthews?! Someone — one of you SaberCybers — need to figure out the drag coefficient of a batting helmet on a baserunner. Harper evidently feels like the batting helmet slows him down, because he knocked it off his own head, a la Sarge or Pete Rose, during his double. It's as if he were announcing his unfortunate haircut to the world.
5. The Dodger Blue Moons: Right at the first pitch of his first at-bat and later before his double, Harper was mooned (or maybe we at home were mooned) by one or more fans behind home plate at Dodger Stadium. Hey, when you sit in seats that cost hundreds of dollars, there's a good chance you'll want to get your money's worth by getting cheeky. Here's the first moon. Here's the second moon. (H/T to Jeff Sullivan of SB Nation.)
6. The Matt Kemp Home Run: Kemp stole Harper's thunder by hitting a moon shot of his own to end the game. Getting the ball over the fence is Harper's next order of business.
7. The Stephen Strasburg Performance: Both starting pitchers were dominant, and Strasburg did everything he could to help the Nats. He struck out nine and walked none (though he hit Hairston in a bit of bad luck). He even got a double to the gap single and just missed a home run. Look at all these superstars showing up young Bryce during his first game.
8. The Haircut: Oh, boy. Harper came to the ballpark with an awful haircut, perhaps to protect himself from horrible rookie hazing that inevitably comes with being new. Did a squirrel die on top of his head? And what do we call it? The Skullet?
9. The Stirrups: The kid knows how to dress, wearing short pants and red stirrups that showed a lot of leg, as God intended baseball players to be shown.
10. The Hustle/The Two-Handed Catch: Many decry a phenomenon known as "false hustle," when certain ballplayers run hard in situations where running hard is of no real benefit, in order to endear themselves to fans or coaches or whomever. The most famous example of this might be Pete Rose running out a walk. He did it just for show.
But Harper turned on the jets as he grounded back to the mound in his first at-bat. Hey, who knows? One of these days, the pitcher could bobble the ball, or take too long in getting rid of it, or rush the play because he's worried about Harper becoming the first player ever to beat a routine comebacker to first base. You know what Bryce Harper will never be accused of? Lollygagging.
Bonus: Harper used two hands on his first putout. That's how all fly balls, if possible, should be caught. Jimmy Piersall was smiling, if he was watching.