(Bryce Harper seen here asking his father, Ron, for permission to use the car. Photo by AP via Daylife.)
"Well, he's towards the top of the list. We haven't made our final, final decision yet, but we're leaning towards him. He's a terrific talent, and unless something changes between now and the draft, he's most likely our guy."
(Mike Rizzo on MASN, via Nationals Journal, 6/7/2010)
And Happy Strasmas Eve!
Although there's no "final, final decision" yet, right Mike? (*wink* *wink*)
Sounds like Rizzo is unconcerned about any questions about Harper's character after that ejection from the JUCO World Series last week for showing up the umpire by dragging his bat in the dirt to mark a bad strike-three call:
"If you took a snapshot of that incident and didn't know the kid like we do, you might have a bad impression. But we know this kid. He's a high-strung, emotional 17-year-old. I like the fire he plays with. I like the fact he loves playing the game. He will learn to control his emotions."
(Mike Rizzo, via USA Today, 6/7/2010)
According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, Harper was "crying his eyes out" in his hotel room after the incident, while his CSN teammates tried (and failed) to continue their run in the tournament. Hopefully he wasn't wearing his eyeblack -- that would be quite a mess! Here's a quote from his dad in the aftermath:
"He felt terrible. I know it was killing him not to be out there. I told him, 'You've got to forgive, you've got to ask for forgiveness, and move on.'"
(Ron Harper, via Las Vegas Review-Journal, 6/7/2010)
All is forgiven, Bryce. So there's no drama for the Nationals leading up to tonight's draft...but the drama really begins shortly after 7PM when the Nationals select Bryce Harper and the clock starts ticking down towards the August 16 deadline for the Nationals to sign him. At that moment, Scott Boras will tell Ted Lerner to kindly assume the position.
No way Bryce Harper breaks Baseball Jesus's draft-record $15.1M contract, but we're guessing he breaks Mark Teixeira's $9.5M deal.
Open your checkbook, Mr. Lerner. All this losing has really paid off!