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For a guy who is supposed to be a punk, Bryce Harper handled Hamels thing like a pro

By Scott Miller | Senior Baseball Columnist
So Bryce Harper was supposed to be a cocky, arrogant punk.

Well, he's handled this Cole Hamels thing like a pro and a champ.

If Hamels was Old School for drilling Harper with the first pitch, as he later claimed -- and go ahead and debate that all you want -- then Harper was every bit as Old School by answering it on the field and shutting up about it later.

You couldn't have asked the kid to handle it any better. He ran to first base after being hit. He took third on Jayson Werth's single. And when Hamels threw over to first, Harper dashed home in one of the coolest, most heads-up and most aggressive plays of the season.

There was some Twitter chatter that he stared back at Hamels after crossing home. You know what that was? It was people looking for something that wasn't there. It was people who remember Harper's blown kiss in a minor-league game that made him a YouTube villain.

Harper didn't stare down Hamels. He glanced quickly over his shoulder after crossing home plate and then continued on into the dugout.

But what wasn't even the notable part of Harper's reaction. Far ahead of the quick glance, here are the Bryce Rankings:

1. Keeping his head down and stealing home as an answer to being drilled.

2. Keeping his head up and taking the high road postgame.

Here is what Harper told reporters when asked about Hamels postgame:

"He is a great guy, great pitcher, he knows how to pitch. He is an All-Star. It's all good."

The rookie took his medicine, gave a nod to his opponent and moved on.

Pure Old School, and absolutely dead-on perfect. At 19, or 39.

Harper has become such a divisive character. When he was booed by 50,000 strong at Dodger Stadium in his debut a week ago Saturday, I wrote that maybe we should put aside everything we've heard -- some of which no doubt is true, and some of which no doubt has been vastly exaggerated -- and watch for ourselves before judging.

Well, I'll tell you this: A kid who came up with a target on his back because of all the hype passed his first Major League Etiquette Test with flying colors.

Hamels is going to be fined for admitting he threw at Harper. He should be, too. If you want to play Old School, great. But part of that is not bragging about it. The proper response is, "The pitch got away from me", not "I was trying to hit him."

Jordan Zimmermann was right on the money, too, in keeping the pitch well below the belt while extracting vengeance on Hamels. And I love Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo's passionate defense of Harper -- totally the opposite of politically correct -- calling Hamels "fake tough" and calling his pitch "a classeless, gutless, chickens--- act" in the Washington Post.

Mostly, I love a great rivalry and this Nationals-Phillies feud has blossomed into that practically overnight.

But out of all of this noise, what should not be lost in the din is Harper, and his behavior both on and off the field.

As I said, he handled all of it like a true pro and a champ, and good for him.
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