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Harper conducting himself like All-Star

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Harper conducting himself like All-Star

Bryce Harper hasn't played like an All-Star for the last three weeks. Since homering in Toronto on June 12 and then uttering his now famous "Clown question, bro" quote, he's hitting just .205 with one homer, three RBI, 20 strikeouts and a .558 OPS.

Harper may not have played like an All-Star during that time, but he's sure conducted himself like one.

As more and more attention is thrust upon him, and as the Nationals become one of the most-compelling teams in baseball, Harper continues to be tested off the field. And he continues to pass every single test.

He could've snapped at that reporter who asked him what kind of beer he would drink after homering in Canada. Instead, he displayed both maturity and snark with his perfect response that created an instant catch-phrase used even by the majority leader of the U.S. Senate.

Harper could have made a major faux pas when the Yankees came to town and said something that indicated his desire to someday play for his favorite team growing up. Instead, he kept his focus on the Nationals, resisted the urge to hobnob around the batting cage with A-Rod and CC and Derek and eventually professed his desire to spend his entire career in Washington.

And when MLB's All-Star teams were announced yesterday and Harper learned he was among five players on the "Final Vote" ballot, he could have bragged about his own case for a ticket to Kansas City. Instead, he repeatedly insisted the retiring Chipper Jones should win the vote.

"He should have already been in the All-Star Game, no matter what," Harper said following yesterday's 8-4 win in Atlanta. "He's an All-Star and has been an All-Star for 20 years. I think Chip should be there and ... if I had to vote, Chip's going."

Talk about knowing the right thing to say. Harper couldn't have handled that sticky situation any better. Would he like to be an All-Star at 19? Absolutely. But he understands there will be plenty more opportunities to play in the Midsummer Classic before his career ends, and he understands this is Jones' last opportunity to do it.

It's that kind of humility and respect for the game that has made Harper so popular among both his teammates and his contemporaries. Shoot, even Cole Hamels said he voted for the guy he intentionally plunked two months ago on his All-Star ballot.

"19 years old," left-hander Gio Gonzalez said. "That says it all."

Fans have until 4 p.m. Thursday to decide whether to vote for Harper, Jones or the other three NL players on the ballot (Michael Bourn, Aaron Hill, Aaron Freese). Harper's teammates say he's worthy of a spot on the roster.

"I think he's got a pretty good chance," shortstop Ian Desmond said. "Obviously he's a fan favorite everywhere he goes. Even though they boo him, I know they still love him."

Truth be told, a quiet vacation in mid-July might be more valuable to Harper than a whirlwind few days in Kansas City. He's been dealing with some lower back soreness for several weeks. He's struggled at times at the plate. The physical and mental grind of his first big-league season might be starting to take its toll.

Asked yesterday if he thinks Harper has a shot to win the final vote, manager Davey Johnson replied: "Yeah, I do, but I hope not. I hope he gets the rest. I've been playing him everyday, every inning. I hope he gets the rest."

Harper didn't necessarily disagree with his skipper.

"It'd be great," he said of an All-Star selection. "I think it'd be a lot of fun to be out there around guys like that and stuff. But taking some time off and going home for four or five days, I think, would be good also."

As has so often been the case since he arrived in the big leagues, Harper keeps saying all the right things.

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2017 ballpark foods that are way better than peanuts and Cracker Jack

2017 ballpark foods that are way better than peanuts and Cracker Jack

Back in the olden days, cotton candy or a plate of nachos were considered bold ballpark snacks. Thankfully, the olden days are over, and a new era of ballpark food has begun.

And in this era, a menu item isn't considered complete until it's fried, sandwiched between something else and then finally drizzled with some sort of sauce. 

So, what's on the menu for 2017? Well, peanuts, hot dogs and apple pie nachos, of course.

CLICK HERE TO FEAST YOUR EYES ON THE CRAZIEST BALLPARK FOODS YOU'LL FIND AROUND MLB THIS YEAR

With a new season about to begin, CSNmidatlantic.com has identified 10 of the most eye-popping and artery-clogging foods available around Major League Baseball in 2017. To see them, simply click on the link above or below to open our gallery (no fork and knife necessary).

After all, while peanuts and Cracker Jack are cute, they simply can't match up with a hot dog topped with bacon and a fried egg. 

CLICK HERE TO FEAST YOUR EYES ON THE CRAZIEST BALLPARK FOODS YOU'LL FIND AROUND MLB THIS YEAR

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Nationals Ace Max Scherzer will not be team's opening day starter

Nationals Ace Max Scherzer will not be team's opening day starter

Nationals manager Dusty Baker said that Max Scherzer is not on track to be the team's opening day starter, and will most likely open the season as the third pitcher in the rotation. 

Scherzer has been the team's starter on opening day for the past two seasons, but a stress fracture in the knuckle of his right ring finger caused him to miss the start of spring training, and the World Baseball Classic. 

Scherzer did, however, make his first MLB spring training start of 2017 on Wednesday. The 2016 NL Cy Young award winner allowed two earned runs on five hits over 4.2 innings. He added four strikeouts and one walk, and reportedly looked just like you would expect from Max Scherzer. 

"To be out there competing, throwing all my pitches, throwing them for strikes, that's a great first outing," Scherzer told Eddie Matz of ESPN after the game. "Finger's good. Finger feels like a finger. I'm getting through that injury. It's behind me now."

With Scherzer set to open the season as the third starter in the rotation, that likely means that Stephen Strasburg will start on opening day against the Miami Marlins, and Tanner Roark will slot in behind him. 

While it's nice to have your ace pitcher starting on opening day, it's not a huge deal to have Scherzer start the season third in the rotation, especially because the Nationals starting rotation is the strength of the team

RELATED: Nationals' Tanner Roark pitches four scoreless innings to help Team USA beat Japan in WBC