By Mark F. Gray, Special to the AFRO

One DMV All-Star made his bid to remain the face of the franchise while another represented his for one last time in the 89th Major League Ball All Star Game at Nationals Park. Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper enjoyed his transcendent moment during the game’s ultimate skills competition while Baltimore Orioles shortstop Manny Machado played out the string one last time before an apparent trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

With the Nationals more than just a contender in the National League east Harper’s future in Washington will be debated until the team’s season ends.  With the Orioles, whose season ended in May, it was just a matter of time before a player that helped lead them to the American League Championship Series was dealt to a contender for minor league prospects.

Baltimore Orioles’ Manny Machado has reportedly been traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

In his moment to shine Harper did just that. After a disappointing conclusion to the first half of the season Harper proved that he is the face of the Washington Nationals franchise. Whether he’s worth $500 million in free agency remains to be seen.  However, with the eyes of the baseball on him and the hometown fans hanging on every pitch, Harper delivered in the clutch to win the Home Run Derby.

Pacing himself through the first two rounds Harper’s historic barrage of long balls turned Nationals Park into his world while the rest of baseball was simply living in it. The Nationals all-star caught Chicago Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber in a dramatic final round slugfest that was the stuff of legend. In a sport where history and romance are rampant Harper’s legend was solidified forever in the lore of D.C. sports.

Harper needed five home runs in the last 25 seconds and was clearly the beneficiary of the home field advantage. Chants of “Har-per, Har-per, Har-per,” reverberated throughout the Park in a manner that had not been felt at a sports event in the District since the Burgundy & Gold moved to the Maryland suburbs.

For that shining moment Harper was the face of the game.  Nearly four decades after hosting the mid-summer night’s classic his performance was mythical.  It crossed color lines and was exactly what the DMV needs as more than a summer diversion for sports fans who wait anxiously for the start of NFL training camp.

Even as Orioles shortstop Manny Machado was holding court during his media availability the sense was palpable the inevitable had finally come to pass.  With rumors circulating about his pending trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers, a player who should’ve been a Charm City lifer seemed to have already punched ticket to southern California.

The only thing separating Machado and the Dodgers while he represented the American League and the Orioles was the humid air between him and the National League dugout.  Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who led the senior circuit, couldn’t speak publicly about landing a potential game changer to the middle of the lineup for a playoff run.

However, there was no denying the excitement that Machado and Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp showed toward each before and during the game.  During batting practice, the opposing all-stars shared a brotherly, made- for-selfie embrace normally reserved for teammates ready for a run at the division title over the next eight weeks. After Kemp’s double in the second inning out came Machado’s camera phone for another selfie. Once that flash went out so did Machado’s time in Baltimore as the reconstruction of Birdland begins anew.