ESPN’s Tim Keown has a profile of Nationals superstar Bryce Harper out today, and it contains a lengthy quote from Harper that you should print out and frame.
Here’s Harper talking about how sick he is of baseball’s unwritten rules:
“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.”
I can’t recall a baseball player of Harper’s caliber ever putting forward such a direct and comprehensive repudiation of baseball’s crotchety folkways. Plenty of baseball writers and dipshit bloggers have made points like these before, but it really means something when one of the two best players in the game lays them out. If baseball is ever going to loosen up and become a more fun-loving sport than it is today, it will be because players like Bryce Harper decide to make it so.