All eyes are on next 1-1: Bryce Harper

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So, the eye black.

It is, for something so insignificant, a very significant piece of the Bryce Harper tableau. Every game, it runs from an inch beneath his orbital bones nearly all the way to his jawline, like mascara tears on HGH. Harper applies his eye black with the liberal hand of a 17-year-old who has yet to learn the value of moderation. He fancies himself a warrior, youthful grandeur begging for a paint job to signify as much.

These are the flourishes, of course, of which Harper must rid himself sometime between Monday, when the Washington Nationals take him with the first overall pick in the 2010 baseball draft, and a couple years down the road, when he debuts in the major leagues. In most cases, the minor leagues beat the brat out of you. Some players, like Hanley Ramirez(notes), are impervious to the lessons taught, and if Harper keeps up his eye black nonsense, they are ones that will come early and often.

Because while the modern world wants to deify players as unique as Harper – and with his size and power and tool set, he is indeed unlike any hitter in the draft since Alex Rodriguez(notes) – the baseball world remains far more insular, a vacuum in which everyday mores do not translate. So the Ultimate Warrior look will go, as will the lip.

Because the mantel of 1-1 – baseball lingo for first pick, first round – far exceeds depth of talent. It is about managing expectations and self and the point at which they meet. Scrutiny rides shotgun with the sort of hype that ensconces Harper, and the last thing he needs is to invite more, whether via a bat drawing a line in the dirt or turning functional black grease into a decorative attention magnet.

Grow-up time starts at 7 p.m. ET, when …

1. Bryce Harper and the Nationals officially start their courtship of one another. Harper will try to convince Washington to guarantee $15 million or so for the second straight year to a Scott Boras-represented amateur. Washington will try to convince Harper to take more like $12 million and not head back to the College of Southern Nevada, where he'd simply bide his time waiting to go No. 1 to a team 45 minutes down I-95 – the Baltimore Orioles – and with the center field, right field and catcher positions locked down for the foreseeable future. There is zero reason for a stalemate …

2. Just as was the case with Stephen Strasburg(notes). The relationship was mutually beneficial, and the wedding is Tuesday night, when Strasburg arrives from Super 2-avoidance purgatory – no, that's not a nickname for Syracuse – to debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The game is sold out, and not because of Phillies fans. It is thanks to Strasburg's 100-mph fastball and impeccable command and minor league destruction. It is, too, because the 1-1 today connotes something entirely different than what it used to, thanks to the Web and social networking and …

3. The televising of the draft, which started in 2007, when David Price(notes) went 1-1 to Tampa Bay. He helped nudge the Rays to the World Series the next year, struggled with command in 2009 and came back this season with a reinvigorated fastball and sharp curveball to replace the slider that was one of his better pitches during the '08 postseason.

Now Price leads the American League in earned-run average at 2.29. And while he's unlikely to top the leaderboard at year's end, Price is 24, left-handed with plus velocity and under team control for another four years. Price has acquitted himself far better than …

4. The other 1-1 on their roster at the beginning of the season, Pat Burrell(notes). The Rays tired of Burrell, cut him May 15 and watched him go to San Francisco, where general manager Brian Sabean must wield the old-position-player equivalent to the sort of high-pitched whistle that rounds up dogs.

Not that Burrell is doomed to the pound yet. He's only 33. He hit 33 home runs two years ago. He … um … hmmm. Maybe the National League will be kinder to him than the AL. After all, his .628 OPS …

5. Is only 67 points lower than the NL-best San Diego Padres', and that includes the .877 mark from Adrian Gonzalez(notes). The Padres' success gets more improbable as the days on the calendar flip, and without Gonzalez, they would be a lot closer to a .500 team than to the 95-win pace they're on.

Gonzalez is a rarity among 1-1s: the premature write-off. Florida, which selected him in 2000, traded Gonzalez to Texas in 2003. The Rangers sent him to San Diego in a lopsided deal alongside Chris Young. And since joining San Diego, Gonzalez has been the lineup's rock, a stalwart …

6. Josh Hamilton(notes) wishes he could be. His 116 total bases are ninth in the AL. He's hitting .301. He's strong, fast, smart – just what the Rangers need.

But he also took a cortisone shot in his right knee Saturday evening and didn't start Sunday. Such is life with Hamilton. Tampa Bay chose him 1-1 in 1999. He spent half the next decade in a drug haze. He was still such a talent, he returned to the game. And the biggest knock on Hamilton, 29, has been questions about his durability – and, as one GM once said, "whether all that abuse he put his body through is just going to break it down." It's pretty much …

7. The exact opposite of how Minnesota felt about Joe Mauer(notes) in awarding him an eight-year, $184 million deal this spring. Mauer won the AL MVP award. He is 27. The Twins kept him at home.

Certainly they expected more than he has delivered this season. Compared to other catchers, Mauer remains the best in the major leagues. That said, $23 million-a-year players slug better than .443 – which is in the neighborhood of Mauer's career slugging percentage before last season. His on-base percentage is down nearly 60 points from last season. He has two home runs, none since May 14.

Target Field is partly to blame. And Justin Morneau(notes) has picked up whatever slack Mauer let. Still, the season is a third of the way through, and that was enough time …

8. To let Ken Griffey Jr.(notes) realize his place in the game no longer involved a uniform. It was sad to see Griffey slink away as he did, a statement delivering the words too difficult to come off his lips. He didn't want to retire. He just had to.

Griffey was 1-1 in 1987. Other 1-1s taken after him have been retired 13 years (Ben McDonald), 10 years (Brien Taylor) and eight years (Andy Benes). That he lasted this long – that not just Junior's body but his mind somehow stayed focused with his children off in Orlando and the specter of a championship just that: always prone to fade away – is a sign of great skill and stubbornness.

While he didn't pull a Willie Mays, Griffey was close. The nap incident was embarrassing; not a career-redefiner, but an incident to purge from the home videos, and not something …

9. He'd have done back in 1994, when an 18-year-old named Alex Rodriguez joined him with the Seattle Mariners for September. All of the stuff Bryce Harper goes through today … well, that was A-Rod more than 15 years ago, when scouts were faxing in perfect scouting reports – giving him an 80 on the 20-to-80 scale, meaning they were willing to bet their jobs he would be in the Hall of Fame – and the only thing preventing A-Rod fever was the Tylenol known as dial-up.

He fulfilled every expectation and more, and though at 34 he seems to be slowing down – never has A-Rod played a full season with a slugging percentage as low as his current .491 – he remains a more-than-competent player capable of smacking a ball 450 feet with the flick of two wrists. Gone, it would seem, are the years of 50-plus home runs, not coincidentally along with the steroids. And yet A-Rod is nine shy of the 600-home run milestone and 172 short of Barry Bonds'(notes) record, a goal that …

10. No doubt has rattled through Bryce Harper's head. Thankfully, he can drop all the talk about furthering his education and valuing what he learns at some junior college in which he enrolled because it was the easiest way to the draft. Harper is a warrior, and warriors have as much use for textbooks as bodies do the appendix.

Just how much the warrior needs his eye black, on the other hand, is of some intrigue. Harper has said it's important, part of his pregame routine, a tradition he's determined to continue. And it just goes to remind us that no matter how beautiful his left-handed swing, Bryce Harper is still 17, and there are plenty of lessons left to learn.