The porn stache. The long, punky hair. Blowing kisses after home runs.
I’m in awe of his talent. But I feel the exact same way that Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk does:
Harper is a very special talent and, as such, people are going to be gunning for him. Testing him. A teammate of the pitcher he blew that kiss to hit Harper with a pitch the other day. That sucks, and it certainly explains Harper’s response yesterday. But it was the wrong response. The way to fight back is by depositing pitches in the seats and showing those who would try to take him down that he can’t be intimidated and that they — as insignificant barriers on his way to glory — don’t even show up on his radar screen. That’s a kind of high road that does not require false humility or the dulling of an edge. It’s the kind of thing, actually, that would turn him into a cold-blooded assassin. It’s also how he will be expected to handle this sort of thing when he reaches Double-A, Triple-A (if he even stops there) and the majors. Which he’ll be doing well before any of his peers, assuming he has some.
I don’t know who the biggest adult or the former player with the most gravitas is in the Washington Nationals organization. But whoever he is, he needs to have a friendly talk with Harper about how, for as unfair as it may seem, he is a unique case and as such, he has to leave his brash and arrogant 18-year-old self behind and let his bat do the talking for him. Because if he doesn’t, he’s going to represent a serious case of arrested development by the time he reaches the bigs.
And again, this idea doesn’t appeal to me because I’m an old man who wants arrogant punks like Bryce Harper off my lawn. It’s because I want to see Bryce Harper fulfill the promise he has with as little bullshit as possible. I want this kid to be everything he can be and more, because if he is, he’ll be able to do things no one else has ever done.
Now you see why the Washington Nationals are being hesitant to call up Bryce Harper. He’s physically ready to start logging big league numbers. Mentally, he’s a long ways off.
I cannot tell you the number of hits that I get daily that deal with searches like: “Bryce Harper’s teammates hate him” or “Bryce Harper won’t sign autographs” or “Why is Bryce Harper such a dick”. Where there is smoke there is certainly fire, and this guy has rubbed a whole host of people the wrong way.
The shame of all of this is that he’s only hurting himself. It might not be a huge deal at this point. But other than Bryce Harper mentally not being as mature as he can be–he has it all. There is no substance abuse problems, shortcomings in his physical ability or anything else that could stop him from being the best of our generation. But this, this anger he seems to play with and lack of general maturity, it’s going to be a problem at some point. It’s going to catch up to him.
Bryce, let the anger go. Start signing a few more autographs. Be a teammate that you’d like to have. Treat people the way you want to be treated. Generally, don’t act like a dick as a rule of thumb. Don’t show up some single-A pitcher that will be working as a doughnut fryer in a few short years after shitting all over him and hitting one over 400 feet into the seats. In the grand scheme of things, he doesn’t mean anything to you.
Be humble, or at least as humble as you can be. Because in general, I’m telling you that people right now as a whole either do not like Bryce Harper, or at the very least are starting to get the wrong idea about him altogether. Either way, stay good and quiet until the stage is yours. And even then stay simple and let your greatness do the talking rather than your foolish actions.