Be honest, when you heard that Bryce Harper was playing with the flu, didn’t you kind of have a notion that he would do something like this? It just adds to the legend and makes the storybook so much better. This is what the great ones do.
Everyone knows about Michael Jordan’s “Flu Game” that will live on forever in NBA lore. After a four-hit performance in Miami, Harper has his own short chapter on playing through what ails him.
Harper didn’t just simply get four hits – he worked over the Marlins through the course of nine frames. A single up the middle. A slashing line drive to left field. A smoke show double that went to the wall in right. And of course, an infield hustle-single that plated an insurance run with two down in the ninth.
Coincidentally, Giancarlo Stanton did what you would expect from a player whose make-up is the exact opposite of Harper. Don’t get me wrong, Stanton is a phenomenal player. But at some point it comes down to more than just being flashy and talented. The great ones have grit. They want to play at all costs, including cutting off a limb to get in the lineup. Stars like Stanton and Jose Bautista are constantly missing time for minor injuries and their teams fail year after year to be a winner.
Harper was clearly struggling through tonight. He could have asked out of the game after six or seven innings when the game was in hand. That’s just not how he’s molded. That was one of the gutsiest performances I’ve seen in a long time, especially in a sport where there are 162 games and guys can take nights off without too many even noticing it.
UPDATE: Harper was barfing between innings last night. He’s purely John Wayne at this point.