Ryan Zimmerman still 'good friends' with Bryce Harper, respects him as a player


Plenty could be written about why Bryce Harper is the perfect villain for Nationals fans.

The simple truth is, things like this are good for baseball rivalries, something the Nats have lacked since arriving in D.C.

That little twirl of the finger, signifying his moonshot has left the same yard where he spent his first seven years hitting them nightly, is a needle in the spine to Nationals fans and a jolt of energy to the goons in Philly.

For that reason alone, it's understandable why it might be a little unsettling for Nats fans to see Harper and Ryan Zimmerman chatting it up at first base. You can throw logic (that they were teammates for seven years) out the window when emotions take over.

Needless to say, Zimmerman probably sees the situation a little differently. As a matter of fact, he does. He shared what their conversations are like, now as former teammates, when they meet on the diamond during his weekly appearance with The Sports Junkies, presented by MainStreet Bank.

"I mean, when you played with someone for that long... we're good friends still," Zimmerman said. "We talk more about our kids and our families and things like that, other than baseball."

"I understand he's a polarizing figure for many in this area, to say the least," he said. "But I respect him as a player and obviously business decisions are business decisions, and lots of things go into that. Yeah, I mean I obviously respect him."

"So it's all good," Eric Bickel said.

"Yeah. What am I going to hold against him?" Zimmerman said. "I didn't offer him any money. He didn't turn me down."

"Yeah, but you must admit. It was kind of annoying," John Auville said. "I know he was getting heckled by the fans before, but after he launches the homer, then he does the finger twirl as he rounds first base."

"That's Bryce being Bryce, though," Bickel chimed.

"Yeah, but that's the 'let the kids play' crap," Zimmerman said. "I mean you've got Marcell Ozuna taking selfies. He's been doing that for two years. I mean this is where they want the game to go. This is what's supposed to make you guys want to watch baseball more. Doesn't it? Doesn't it? Aren't you guys just thrilled when people do that? It's so awesome, isn't it? It's so much fun."

Over time, Nationals fans will learn to take it in stride, to tip their cap to Bryce and thank him for bringing a title back to D.C. In the meantime, it won't be all fond memories for Harper of his latest trip back to the nation's capital.