Harper vs. Strickland: Behind the Blows

Wai Sallas

At a time when America unofficially ushered in the start of Summer, the Nation’s pastime reminded us ’tis the season for beach weather, summer cook outs and a good old fashioned “BaseBrawl.”

On Memorial Day, during the Major League Baseball game between the San Francisco Giants and Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper took offense to a heater from Hunter Strickland that plunked Harper on the hip. The Nationals All-Star followed in the footsteps of Robin Ventura vs. Nolan Ryan, Pedro Martinez vs. Don Zimmer and Jose Bautista vs. Rougned Ordor and took part in an epic baseball battle. This would live up to the billing, and it’s only right that we break the fight down in a proper way.

The origin:

For one reason or another, this beef goes back to 2014. It has been said that professional athletes never forget. Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame acceptance speech was more of a call out to all the haters than an acceptance speech. In baseball, the depth to their revenge plots go even further.

October 3, 2014, with the Giants up 3-0, San Francisco reliever Strickland decides to fire up the old heater.

That was after Game 1. You can see that Strickland is…to put it lightly, upset. Harper takes this ball to the third deck, which in itself is an embarrassment, almost like hitting the bull in Bull Durham.

The two would face off again in Game 3, but this time it got personal.

Watch it again!

Harper not only stands to admire, but he then trains his eyes on Strickland as he tours the bases. That breaks chapter 27 sec. 3 paragraph 5 of the unwritten rule book. Which brings us to Monday, Memorial Day.

Let’s go to the tape.

Analysis:

Does anyone else hear Jim Lampley effortlessly screaming while speaking subtly about this epic battle? We’ve set it up, we’ve seen the tape, now let’s break it down.

The first thing that jumps out after Strickland lands the first blow, the shot to the hip (Ref ruled it was not a low blow, no points deducted), Harper points, charges, cocks a helmet in the general vicinity of said pitcher, and looks at All-Star catcher and beloved Giant, Buster Posey just stand there and leave his pitcher out to dry. This is another broken rule, although this one isn’t unwritten. It is written in the man code. Section 1, Article 2, Paragraph 1: Thou shall not leaveth your boy alone on a mound to fend for himself.

posey

How did this not become as big a deal as the fight itself!? He would later clarify his cowardice by saying, “It was a little too dangerous to get in there.” When a huge kerfuffle takes place, we all know it’s dangerous, it’s a FIGHT!

Back to the main event.

helmet throw harper

*Record Scratch* Yup that’s me, you’re probably wondering how I ended up in this situation.

If he follows through, he’s looking at a 25-game suspension, easy. He did not connect, and did not come anywhere near Strickland. They might want to check the seals near Pier 39, though.

Let the open hand brawl commence.

strickland slap

Strickland connects with the overhand right to the face of Harper.

harper hook

Harper counters with a right hook to the bill of Strickland. Looks to have left Strickland momentarily blind. Harper did not follow up with a combination. That might come back to haunt him in the later rounds if this goes the distance. On the other hand, the burly reliever will never have that perfect curve on his bill again.

I assume it is right about now that both Harper and Strickland hoped someone would step in…

Mike Morse and Jeff Samardzija kindly obliged.

Finally, what would an historic melee be without someone pulling a Jeff Van Gundy.

IMG_1863

Let’s look at the final punch-by-punch tally.

compubox numbers

Decision:

The numbers favor no one in this memorable baseball battle. Each combatant connected with a single shot. Looking back at the tape, it seems Strickland’s jab may have bloodied Harper’s nose while Harper’s hook was absorbed by Strickland’s hat. Furthermore, the suspensions have been handed down and it tremendously favors Strickland, a middle reliever who was penalized six games compared to MVP candidate Harper’s four games.

It is clear the winner of the Memorial Day Melee is…Hunter Strickland.

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