Bryce Harper. You love him or you hate him. But since I think that hate is a very strong word, I rather say that you like him or dislike him.
I tend to dislike him.
I do not vent my opinion too much, but in this case I had to write something about it.
I posted this article at the Facebook page of the KNBSB (Dutch Baseball and Softball Federation) and it triggered a lot of reactions, pros and cons.
The article shows a quote of Harper:
“Baseball’s tired,” he says. “It’s a tired sport, because you can’t express yourself. You can’t do what people in other sports do. I’m not saying baseball is, you know, boring or anything like that, but it’s the excitement of the young guys who are coming into the game now who have flair. If that’s Matt Harvey or Jacob deGrom or Manny Machado or Joc Pederson or Andrew McCutchen or Yasiel Puig — there’s so many guys in the game now who are so much fun.
“Jose Fernandez is a great example. Jose Fernandez will strike you out and stare you down into the dugout and pump his fist. And if you hit a homer and pimp it? He doesn’t care. Because you got him. That’s part of the game. It’s not the old feeling — hoorah … if you pimp a homer, I’m going to hit you right in the teeth. No. If a guy pimps a homer for a game-winning shot … I mean — sorry.”
He stops, looks around. The hell with it, he’s all in.
“If a guy pumps his fist at me on the mound, I’m going to go, ‘Yeah, you got me. Good for you. Hopefully I get you next time.’ That’s what makes the game fun. You want kids to play the game, right? What are kids playing these days? Football, basketball. Look at those players — Steph Curry, LeBron James. It’s exciting to see those players in those sports. Cam Newton — I love the way Cam goes about it. He smiles, he laughs. It’s that flair. The dramatic.”
In no way I am against showing emotion when hitting a homerun or when striking out someone, especially after a long battle between pitcher and hitter. But the way Harper often shows his emotion is like “In your face”. When he was still playing in the minors there was a lot to do about his attitude already. In one game he hit a homerun and while trotting towards home, he was blowing kisses to the pitcher. To me this is a no-no.
I must give Harper credit for playing his butt off at times. He has made catches in the outfield while sacrificing his body (even when that wasn’t necessary at times). But then again, when he refuses trying to run out a ground out, and someone says something about it, he gets ticked off. So he is allowed to say anything that he wants, but can’t stand criticism? C’mon.
His general attitude is like that he is the best that has ever happened to baseball. I don’t like this cockiness. Perhaps he can look at Didi Gregorius, Jonathan Schoop and Xander Bogaerts and take them as an example. Those players are good as well, but they are modest and they don’t think that they are more important than the team that they are playing for.
If he has a problem with the unwritten rules of baseball, it can mean two things: 1. These unwritten rules are stupid. 2. He has an attitude problem.
Personally I think that Bryce shows a lot of disrespect to the game and his opponents by celebrating a homerun overly excited when his team is leading with a large margin or trailing by many runs. What’s the use of rubbing in a big lead to your opponent? What’s the use of celebrating a homerun overly excited when you’re trailing by ten runs?
In such cases it is all about him and no-one else.
Once again, I am not against showing emotion. I can remember a photo of the 1986 New York Mets, who walked of the field after a victory. The looks on their faces was like they just had finished another day at the office. That’s probably what Harper means with the old feeling… There is nothing wrong with celebrating a victory. If Bryce cheers after hitting a walk off homerun, I am perfectly fine with it. He has every right to celebrate.
Harper is around in the Bigs since 2012, so he has four years of MLB experience under his belt. He broke in at an age of 19. If he still would be this old, I would have understand his attitude. But after four years one may expect that Haper has matured. But he hasn’t.
And it looks like he won’t any time soon.
I agree with Harper that players should be more entertaining.
But did Ozzie Smith ever got plunked? Smith entertained the fans with his somersaults when entering the field but he showed respect to his opponents.
Perhaps the following GIF shows that Harper is right at some point. The hitter admires his work and the pitcher is smiling. In other words: Baseball is fun.
Sure baseball is fun. For the fans it is as it should be for the players as well. But to what extend?