Washington Nationals star outfielder Bryce Harper is one of baseball’s most polarizing figures, and may be on the verge of becoming even more so. In a featured story about him in ESPN Magazine, Harper discussed baseball’s “unwritten rules” and how he wanted to make it so that nobody cared about them.
Harper mainly meant a batter celebrating a home run only to get hit by a pitch his next at-bat, or a pitcher staring down a batter after a big strikeout and despite what some may think about him, he’s right on point.
“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.”
Harper then cited Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez as a pitcher who doesn’t care about batters celebrating hitting a home run against him, and that he’ll also “stare you down into the dugout and pump his fist” following a strikeout. The heart of this conversation goes back to last season, when Harper and teammate Jonathan Papelbon got into a dugout altercation after the latter hit Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado after Machado watched a home run he hit leave the park earlier.
Anyway, I digress. The fact of the matter is that though there are some old school fans who feel that staring down a batter or a batter watching his home run leave the park is a mark of poor sportsmanship, Harper is absolutely right and doesn’t care if people disagree with him.
Bryce Harper is brash. Bryce Harper is bold. Bryce Harper is going to play the game how he sees fit and probably earn the richest contract in baseball history at some point in the near future.
Long story short, he’s going to be around for a while and doesn’t give a damn about the unwritten rules and the sooner people accept that, the happier everyone can be.