The Yankees Meet Bryce Harper

The Yankees head to D.C. for first look at the new Nationals

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The Yankees hope to keep Harper from getting this excited.

    First in peace, first in war and last in the American League.

    Through two iterations of the Senators, that was the way that the Yankees experienced baseball in Washington D.C. The cliche was so ingrained that they made a whole big, lavish Broadway musical about it.

    Lola will continue getting whatever she wants in revivals, but you couldn't pitch that show now without having producers throw  you out of their office. The Nationals don't play in the American League and they are no longer the laughingstock of baseball.

    They are in first place, thanks in large part to the arrival of a pair of first overall picks who have lived up to the hype. The Yankees won't get a chance to see Stephen Strasburg this weekend, but the series promises to be a good one all the same.

    Both teams enter in first place in their divisions and both of them are riding six-game winning streaks into Friday's opener. And the presence of Bryce Harper should more than make up for the absence of Strasburg.

    The best argument in favor of interleague play, something that will be a daily happening come next season, is that it allows teams (or, more precisely, fans) from the American League to see the best players from the National League. There isn't anyone in the NL more exciting on that front than Harper, who has hit the ground running as a 19-year-old.

    There seemed to be nothing but daggers waiting for Harper as he made his way to the minor leagues. Everything from his choice to skip his senior year of high school to go pro sooner to the amount of eye black he wears to his general personality sent off signals of an entitled prima donna that you would love to hate.

    Harper's pretty much spoiled that by hitting the major leagues as the antithesis to his advance billing. Not in terms of his play, which is brilliant, but his style, which is as hard-driving and relentless as anything practiced by the gritty out-of-nowhere stories that those who killed Harper love to cling to as a sign that baseball is about more than ability.

    It's pretty much the opposite of what happened when another teenaged first overall pick hit the major leagues. Alex Rodriguez came in with a lot of fanfare and then gradually became disliked around the league as his career progressed, which is probably the story of how internet/Twitter/Facebook/MLB Network and a dozen other things have changed what we know about 17-year-old baseball players.

    That story will be told another time. For now, we'll just have to settle for the story of the first time that Harper meets the Yankees.

    It should be a more entertaining one.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.