When Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels intentionally beaned Nationals phenom Bryce Harper to "welcome him" to the big-leagues, the veteran hurler should have realized he was wasting his time.
Harper's response was non-verbal but spoke louder than any thud of a 90 mph fastball between the shoulder blades. The youngest player in all of the MLB, Harper hustled down to first after being plunked. He then followed with a great hustle play going first-to-third on a hit, and reached later on a single, a double, and a drag bunt.
If he would have stopped there no one would have complained, but Harper added a steal of home on Hamels during an attempted pick-off play at third. How's that for a "welcome to the big leagues" moment?
He doesn't run his mouth, doesn't answer clown questions (bro), makes highlight defensive plays, and hustles everywhere he goes. Harper is a guy that gets it and he's a rising star. His name has gone viral in American sports so much so that he's been listed as one of the final five for the fan vote to select the last member for the NL All-Star roster in 2012.
Harper deserves every vote that he will receive and could very likely be chosen, but the reality is, he shouldn't. And if he is, Harper should refuse to accept the invitation.
Such a move might shock the baseball world and send fans into a frenzy, but it's not what you might think. How could such a promising young man of character turn his back to the fans and to the game by blowing off their invitation? Harper's exciting play and abundance of energy is something that fans love and want to see injected into a night filled with stars.
How could someone with so much promise make such a backwards decision? Is he not who we think he is -- perhaps just another selfish player?
A decision to pass on the invite would be quite the opposite for Harper. The choice, while a shocking one at first, would make sense considering the other players -- one in particular -- who are also up for the final vote.
Michael Bourn, David Freese, Harper, Aaron Hill, and Chipper Jones all rest on the final ballot for the 2012 All-Star game. If young Bryce has shown us anything at all, it's that he plays with passion, a love for the game, and has class and respect for its history and those who came before him.
If Bryce Harper wins the final vote-in, he should politely decline and give the spot to Chipper Jones.
In his final season with the Atlanta Braves, Jones has been a steady star throughout his career and one of the game's all-time great switch hitters. Chipper may win the vote outright if the history-loving baseball fan in us casts the ballot. But if we do decide to punch the ticket for the young face who is the future of the game, realize you may also be casting a vote for the game's past if Harper responds the way he should.
Bryce Harper will get multiple chances throughout his career to put on the All-Star uniform. But it may be a decision to pass in 2012 that proves to be his shining moment.
What a fitting moment it would be. The future of the game bows in respect for those who came before him.