Washington Nationals: Bryce Harper should be en route to WPB

Bryce Harper is soaking up the last of the off-season before heading down to West Palm Beach for spring training. Despite hating the “holiday,” he and new wife Kayla had a full day on Valentine’s Day, going to the Las Vegas Mormon Temple for something with his uncle, and then enjoying dinner at Zuma, a sushi joint, on the Vegas Strip. They decided to cap off their evening with milkshakes from Chik-fil-a. Turns out, everyone in Vegas wanted to eat more chicken, and they were stuck in an endless drive-thru line, 20 minutes into their wait, Bryce checked in with Facebook live and documented the remainder of their time in line.

Much of the video is Bryce and Kayla reading the comments, so there’s a lot of downtime, but we did learn several interesting things about him. Someone asked about the Caps hockey team, and Bryce said that while they remain his Eastern Conference team, he will be rooting for his home town Golden Knights. He isn’t entirely sure how to pronounce Saskatchewan, and he’s only partially sure it’s in Canada. Kayla can’t sing, but she enjoys doing it anyway, and apparently their bathroom has great acoustics for when she belts stuff out. As many of his followers on social media already know, Bryce is a fan of country music, which is what played in the background throughout the entire video. He’s a particular fan of Florida Georgia Line and Sam Hunt, and he even requested to be in an upcoming Sam Hunt video.

While Vegas is very much Bryce’s home, he said he does miss DC when he’s home during the off-season, and he said he “can’t wait to come back.” Interestingly, he doesn’t seem to like the state of Maryland and maybe that has more to do with Angelos’ team in Baltimore, Maryland and that MASN money the Nationals are looking for. One comment must have mentioned something there, because Bryce’s reply was that he would rather keep it to DC and Virginia. He’s also excited about getting down to spring training (editor’s note: then hurry up and get down there!), and he’s happy the team has moved to West Palm Beach. He jokingly said “I don’t know if I’m ready to see all the guys, though. Just kidding. I’m excited to see JDub. Only JDub.” I share Bryce’s excitement over seeing Jayson Werth arrive at spring training [insert copious amounts of heart eyes emojis and hearts].

The biggest focus of the video was food. Anyone who follows Bryce knows that he’s a bit of a foodie. In discussing milkshakes, he said he’s not a fan of Shake Shack shakes, but he says The Hamilton (a place on 14th St NW with a late night menu) has excellent milkshakes. He also said Ice Cream Jubilee (on Water St near the ballpark) was fantastic for ice cream. He thinks McFlurries aren’t bad, but Blizzards are better.

As for actual food, he listed a bunch of places in Vegas that he’s a big fan of, including the afore mentioned Zuma. When asked if he prefers Ruth’s Chris or Morton’s The Steakhouse, he said neither, but noted SW Steakhouse is “unreal.” He and Kayla are apparently huge fans of Mexican food, and if anyone is headed to Vegas, he recommends Javier’s, Fausto’s Mexican Grill, Macayo’s, and Zaba’s Mexican Grill. His biggest complaint about DC is he can’t find really good Mexican food here. He does like Filomena Ristorante in Georgetown, and I believe Acqua al 2 on Capitol Hill (he mispronounced it, this is my best guess as to what he meant), both of which he enjoys going to after games. He was also asked about Whataburger several times, which is a chain found mostly in Texas, but he’s apparently not a fan. Anthony Rendon, however, is.

After 20 minutes of live streaming his wait, Bryce was finally able to order – cookies and cream with whipped cream and a cherry for him, chocolate for Kayla. The most amusing part of the video was the woman taking orders totally didn’t recognize him (she asked him what name to put the order under), but the woman at the food window TOTALLY did. She gushed about the truck he was driving, and said she would have LOVED to be the one to take his order. After a total of 40 minutes of waiting, I hope those were the best milkshakes the Harpers have ever had.

That was all yesterday’s news. Today is today. Today, ESPN’s Eddie Matz wrote a piece about Bryce’s 2016 season as he theorized: “Did Joe Maddon break Bryce Harper?”

“He’s so f—ing competitive,” says one National League exec. “Almost to a detriment. When the Cubs pitched around him, if he was someone who had greater maturity and self-control — which I think he will still develop — he would’ve said, ‘F— it, if they’re gonna walk me, I’ll take it.’ But what he did was, he started to feel like he needed to produce and be the guy.”

That is one executive’s opinion as to Bryce Harper’s issues in the 2016 season. This is a new season in 2017. This scout gave his opinion.

“He was pulling off the ball,” says one longtime scout. “When you see a hitter do that, they’re going for the home runs more than the hits. He was overcompensating and looking for the fastball, which made it hard for him to handle the breaking ball. The patience and the discipline weren’t quite the same, and he certainly didn’t stay in on left-handers as well as he did previously. They caused him a lot more problems than I’d ever seen. It was a trying year for Bryce.”

Everybody has opinions, and there are plenty on Bryce Harper. The 230 pound Bryce Harper will have the 2017 season to show us what he really is.

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