The line between hard nosed and bull headed can be a very fine one. The question before the house, as Bryce Harper begins his recuperation from surgery to repair a torn collateral ligament in his thumb, incurred during a head-first slide on a bases-clearing triple, is whom on the Washington Nationals has crossed it further, Harper or his rookie manager Matt Williams.
When Johnny Damon saw the writing on the Cleveland Indians’ wall, he didn’t kid himself. If the Indians hit the skids, Damon mused, he’d be the first one to go. Just past the All-Star break, Damon went, designated for assignment and released.
With the All-Star Game come and gone, you almost can’t help thinking of more once-upon-a-time comers, All-Stars and others, who didn’t—or couldn’t—quite live up to their earliest promise . . .
Pete Reiser—Pistol Pete (Reiser was hung with that nickname decades before it got hung on basketball legend Pete Maravich) won the National League batting title in his rookie season (1941) and damn near won the league’s Most Valuable Player award in his second season. He was a five-tool switch-hitter who had Brooklyn fans salivating, after Leo Durocher scotched an unscrupulous deal by which the Dodgers’ then-boss Larry MacPhail kept Reiser buried in their farm system before he could be returned to the St. Louis Cardinals, from whom he’d been liberated by commissioner’s edict.