Bryce Harper is an All-Star Starter

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Bryce Harper was elected by the fans to start in his first All-Star game today, becoming the youngest player since Ken Griffey Jr. made the lineup in 1990.

The real good read, though; is one that will tug on your heart strings. Harper spent time with a terminally ill young man yesterday prior to the Nationals game. For all the talk about Bryce Harper being a bad guy when he entered the realm of professional baseball, it just seems an inaccurate report by the unnamed scout.

When Mann asked Harper if he could meet Gavin, Harper did not hesitate. On the field, he gave Gavin the hat off his head and signed it for him. After a while, Gavin sat down in the air-conditioned tunnel between the dugout and clubhouse.

Because of where his tumor is located in his brain, Gavin has lost control of the muscles in his face. “If you ask him something, he’ll be happy, but you can’t see it,” Rupp said. “The nonverbal communication isn’t there. I was kind of telling Bryce that. I said, ‘When you talk to him, even though inside he’s happy, you don’t visually see it.’ So it’s kind of hard to have a conversation with somebody.”

Harper asked questions to draw Gavin out. Gavin sat in a folding chair in the Nationals dugout. Harper leaned forward and his elbow on his left knee so his eyes would be at the same level as Gavin’s.

The conversation meandered from topic to topic. They talked about Harper’s pregame routine. Gavin asked Harper about his favorite ballpark to play in, his most memorable home run, his hardest pitcher to hit off of. Gavin loves Ohio State football, and Harper’s girlfriend just transferred there, and they talked about that. They talked about Las Vegas, Harper’s home town. Harper’s father grew up rooting for the Reds, and Gavin likes them almost as much as the Nationals, and they talked about that.

Harper traded one of his wristbands for one of Gavin’s neon wristbands. Harper asked Gavin to sign a baseball for him. They hung out for an hour.

“I can’t say enough. A guy who is 20 years old, to take that much time,” Chris Rupp said. His voice quivered and his eyes watered. “When I was 20 years old, I didn’t have that maturity, to do what he just did.”

And then finally, there was a game played today. Davey Johnson said after yesterday’s game that he was going to give Bryce Harper ‘the rest of the weekend off’. That would have sucked for everyone, including the Nationals who are finally starting to get rolling towards that last call for the train to the World Series.

Harper did what a gamer does, text messaging his manager ‘play me or trade me’. Harper responded about how you would have expected. Lineout, bases loaded walk for an RBI, RBI single, sac fly to tie the game; 3 RBI on the day in a 5-4 Nationals win to put them 3 games over .500 on the year.

Thank them by being in the Home Run Derby, we say.