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The Hunter Strickland-Bryce Harper feud revisited: How we got here

The Hunter Strickland-Bryce Harper feud revisited: How we got here

Bryce Harper stepped to the plate in the top of the eighth inning on May 29, 2017. Opposite him, San Francisco's Hunter Strickland prepared his pitch.

Except, that pitch never crossed the plate. 

Instead, Harper wore the first pitch of that at-bat on his hip, a 98 MPH fastball that surely left a mark, and a series of events was put into motion that cleared all the benches and forced one player into retirement.

But to understand the ensuing madness, and to understand why Strickland even hit Harper in the first place, it's important to go back three years to Oct. 7, 2014...

It was the fourth game of the NLDS between San Francisco and Washington. Harper went yard against Strickland for a second time in the series, this time a game-tying knock into McCovey Cove outside AT&T Park. 

During Game 1 at Nationals Park on Oct. 3, Harper rode a 97-mph fastball from Strickland deep to right field (445 feet deep to be exact) in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Needless to say, Strickland wasn't too happy about the homer, nor the way Harper stood in the box, then strode around the bases, pretty clearly glaring at Strickland between first and second base.

Between Harper's two home runs and the hit-by-pitch, Harper and Strickland exchanges their opinions (via. the sports journalism industry, because of course). Harper was tired of baseball's "unwritten rules" hindering individual expression (like pimping a home run, etc.), while Strickland said it wasn't his "place to judge the rules."

And so, on May 29, 2017, Strickland attempted to enforce those "unwritten rules" by hitting Harper, while Harper tried to fight for himself and charged the mound.

What followed was nothing less than a total mess. Harper's way off-line helmet throw went down as one of the funniest Harper incidents to that point. The benches-clearing brawl left Strickland with a six-game suspension and Harper with a four-game suspension, plus former National Michael Morse with a career-ending concussion. 

In a Feb. 2018 interview, Strickland tabbed the "Harper incident" as a mistake.

Just over a year later, Harper signed a then-unprecedented 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies.

Then, at the trade deadline the Nationals acquired Strickland from the Mariners in exchange for minor-leaguer Aaron Fletcher. 

The two teams face off for the first time since the trade deadline on Monday, the opener of the five-game series in Washington, as the Nationals fight to maintain their position atop the NL Wild Card race and the Phillies clamber for a last-ditch grasp at a Wild Card bid. 


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Trea Turner undergoes surgery to finally fix his broken index finger

Trea Turner undergoes surgery to finally fix his broken index finger

Trea Turner finally found the time to have his finger fixed.

A Saturday Instagram post showed Turner holding up his heavily wrapped right hand and held the caption: "Only took 7 months to get this finger fixed but now my ring will fit better! 🏆 Thank you to Dr. Carlson and all the staff at @hspecialsurgery for taking care of me! World class job by everyone! Forever thankful!"

"Can’t wait to start hitting with 10 fingers..."

Turner did not play from April 3 to May 17 after fracturing a knuckle on his right index finger when he turned to bunt, and a pitch from Philadelphia starter Zach Eflin struck his finger.

Turner's absence was among several enormous blows to the Nationals' health early in the season. His replacements -- Wilmer Difo and prospect Carter Kieboom -- both played poorly. Turner finished his shortened season as a 2.4-WAR player. Difo and Kieboom combined for -2.1 WAR in limited duty. The swing from Turner to his replacements became a massive hole and coincided with the Nationals bumbling through April and May.

When Turner returned, he still was not healed. He swung with nine fingers on the bat. Often, it flew out of his hands at the end of the swing when he first began to play again. He was never able to bend the finger enough so the tip touched the palm of his hand. Turner also went to great length not to discuss his situation through the year.

There was no immediate timeline for Turner's recovery process available Saturday.


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College GameDay sign takes dig at Astros amid sign-stealing scandal

College GameDay sign takes dig at Astros amid sign-stealing scandal

The College GameDay crew is in Waco, Texas, this weekend to set the stage for the highly touted Big 12 matchup between Baylor and Oklahoma that kicks off Saturday night at 7: 30 p.m.

Baylor fans were out in full force for the live broadcast, holding countless signs that took shots at the Sooners. But one fan went outside the college football realm for their inspiration.

The Astros are facing widespread scrutiny as a result of a report that detailed allegations claiming they used high-powered cameras to steal opposing pitchers’ signs during the 2017 season, when they went on to win the World Series.

Houston can’t do much to defend itself until MLB concludes its investigation, so for now it just has to take jabs left and right from all corners of the sports world.

And apparently, even from Waco.