Will Angels-Phillies feature rematch of epic benches-clearing Bryce Harper brawl?

Get your popcorn ready?!
San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Hunter Strickland (60) and Bryce Harper
San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Hunter Strickland (60) and Bryce Harper / Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The struggling Los Angeles Angels opened a three-game series against the surging Philadelphia Phillies on Monday night. And while the storyline could center around two former MVPs sharing the same field, there's actually a much more intriguing plot that could unfold if a certain someone emerges from the Angels' bullpen.

While both players are now on different teams, you can bet that Bryce Harper and Hunter Strickland vividly remember their ferocious meeting at the mound eight years ago. What started during the National League Division Series in 2014, culminated with Harper and Strickland throwing hands in 2017.

Let's rewind the clock back to 2014 when Harper and the Washington Nationals were playing the San Francisco Giants in the NLDS. As he's prone to do, Harper hit a towering blast off Strickland during a game at Nationals Park. A few days later, Strickland was on the mound once again and Harper sent a ball out of the stadium. This time into McCovey Cove.

Will Angels-Phillies series feature rematch of epic benches-clearing brawl?

But Harper admired that second one a bit too long for Strickland's liking. Strickland got all up in his feelings and reportedly told his then-Giants teammates that if he ever got the chance to face Harper again, he would deliberately hit him. Not only that, but Strickland was said to have told his catcher Buster Posey not to stop Harper if he charged the mound.

Well, Strickland is a man of his word. During a Memorial Day weekend series against the Nationals in 2017, the Giants reliever plunked Harper with a 98 mph fastball and it was on from there. Harper charged the mound, threw his helmet toward Strickland, and the two players exchanged blows.

The dugouts and bullpens emptied with Harper and Strickland having to be separated. It was truly the type of throwback melee that even gets hockey fans excited. Both men received suspensions for their actions that day. Harper was docked four games while Strickland served a six-game ban.

Harper, of course, now stars as the Phillies first baseman and Strickland has been one of Ron Washington's most reliable relievers for the Angels this season. Will Harper find his way into the batters' box Tuesday or Wednesday with Strickland on the mound? If he does, there's no tellling how things might unfold.

They say time heals all wounds, but Strickland waited almost three years for his first crack at Harper after he was embarrassed during the 2014 NLDS. If the Angels reliever still harbors ill-feelings towards the former MVP, don't be shocked if Strickland decides to pitch Harper high and tight.

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