At the end of the 2015 season, I wrote a piece about Bryce Harper that still gets a lot of attention from Google. It was called Bryce Harper – Another Baseball Brat. As you might guess, it was not very flattering.
At the time, it irked me that while his team was limping to the finish line following an embarrassing and disappointing second place finish, Harper appeared to be in a vacuum of denial openly stating (paraphrasing) “Hey, I’ve got six more games to go, leave me alone would ya?”
Quite obviously, that bothered me because it didn’t take a giant leap to go from there to, “Hey, can’t you see I’m trying to win a MVP here?” (my quotes)
Now, I’m beginning to wonder not if I was wrong about him, but that maybe he is turning a corner this year and putting all that I/Me Me stuff behind him……..because if he is this kid is destined to have a monumental year for himself as well as being able to carry the Nationals on his back and into the playoffs……….
You own the hype if you are a Bryce Harper, a Matt Harvey, a Mike Trout, or even (now) a Trevor Story. You’ve been scouted and touted before you could even shave. You stand to make godzillions dollars when you reach free agency. You are alone in your own orbit.
And whether you like it or not, a different standard is applied to you – and it not only based on performance but how you carry yourself as a person – and as a man. Because if that were not true, Alex Rodriguez would waltz into the Hall of Fame as a unanimous inductee the first year he is eligible. Except that he won’t, for obvious reasons.
Bryce Harper is having the kind of start to a season ballplayers dream about. Moreover, his performance is accented by the outstanding start his team is having. That’s important – and by the way that’s why it’s called the Most Valuable Player Award. Bryce Harper should have won the Player Of The Year Award last year (if MLB had one)……..not the MVP he could run away with this year.
Just for the record, if we project Harpers current stats out over let’s say 150 games allowing for a minor injury and a few days off, he would have 80 home runs, and 220 RBI at the end of the season while the Nationals would win almost 120 games. None of this of course is likely to happen but it does go to show that something appears to be very different this year, for both Harper and his team.
Bryce Harper will play all of this season and not reach his 24th birthday. He is still a very young man who is bound to make mistakes along the way. And after all, how many of us can say that we qualified as full fledged adults at that age?
But nevertheless and as noted before, Harper and those like him – phenoms if you will – have a light shining on them that’s either going to shape them into Derek Jeter or Johnny Manziel. And you don’t get much breathing room in between.
And even beyond that, you can be a Rickey Henderson or even a Ted Williams and say (paraphrasing) – “Hey, I am what I am…..you don’t like it……too bad.” I don’t sense that Bryce Harper wants to be remembered that way.
But this season – his “comeback season ” will go a long way to showcasing who he really is in this context and conversation……