Bryce Harper is the latest victim in baseball’s evolving culture wars … – Chicago Tribune

For as long as there has been baseball played on these shores, there has been one subset of players, generally veteran ones, that has taken it upon itself to teach another subset of players, generally younger ones, how to — say it with me now — “play the game the right way.” If that seems like a tired phrase, it’s becoming an even more tired concept.

On Monday at AT&T Park in San Francisco, Giants reliever Hunter Strickland felt he needed to teach Nationals superstar Bryce Harper that exact lesson, which he undertook by drilling Harper in the hip with a 98-mph fastball, touching off a brawl that included an exchange of punches and that will likely result in both players being suspended.

Inside the mind of Strickland must be a scary and confusing place to be, what with all those three-year-old grudges and revenge fantasies, and we won’t be staying there for long. But it isn’t difficult to discern his motivation, and it was all representative of a larger divide in baseball’s evolving culture, one that seems to create more contentiousness as the divide grows.

We’re only guessing here — because Strickland, of course, claimed the pitch was meant to be inside and simply got away from him — but the reason he decided to drill Harper was not because the latter homered twice off him in the 2014 National League Division Series, as many have suggested. Homers happen, and even a less-evolved player such as Strickland knows he has to wear them.


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